An Analysis of Project Networks as Resource Planning Tools

An Analysis of Project Networks as Resource Planning Tools| Usage and availability of resources are essential considerations when establishing Project Networks in Resource Planning. This analysis has focused on some of the risks of certain actions used to offset resource constraints, advantages/disadvantages for reducing project scope, and options/advantages/disadvantages for reducing project duration. If implemented correctly, careful consideration of the outlined risks will make managing a project a little less painless. | Following is an analysis of project networks as resource planning tools.

The analysis will be segmented into three topical areas to include: * Risks associated with leveling resources, compressing, or crashing projects, and imposed durations or “catch-up” as the project is being implemented; * Advantages and disadvantages for reducing project scope to accelerate a project and what can be done to reduce the disadvantages * Three options for reducing project duration and advantages and disadvantages to these options Risks Associated with Leveling Resources, Compressing, or Crashing Projects, and Imposed Durations or “Catch-Up” The text (Gray and Larson, 2008) gives good definitions for the risks associated with certain actions used to offset resource constraints. The act or process of evening out “resource demand by delaying noncritical activities (using slack) to lower peak demand” (Gray and Larson, 2008) is considered leveling resources.

This action ultimately increases the resource utilization, which is more than likely the desired result. Even though one may get the desired results resource-wise, leveling resources often results in pushing out the end-date of a project. In most cases, that is the extreme outcome. Another risk that bears its head when slack is reduced, is loss of flexibility which equates to an increase in critical activities. Without slack anywhere in a project network, ALL activities become critical. This means that everything has to fall perfectly in place in order to stay on the prescribed timeline. Compressing a schedule means that you will be conducting project activities in parallel. Compressing is not applicable to all project activities.

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One good aspect about crashing a schedule (just like compressing), you do not need to crash all activities. The activities that impact the schedule are those with no slack, thus being the only ones that are affected. Risks associated with this action are as follows: “Budget: Since you allocated more resources, you will not deliver the project on-budget. Demoralization: Existing resources may get demoralized by the increase in people to complete activities that were originally assigned to them. Coordination: More resources translates to an increase in communication challenges” (brighthub. com/office/project-management/articles/51684. aspx#ixzz0onfuKUmj, 20 May 2010).

These risks combined or by themselves can ultimately pose the overall risk of reducing the effectiveness of the existing resources. Advantages and Disadvantages for Reducing Project Scope to Accelerate a Project and what can be Done to Reduce the Disadvantages Reducing the scope of the project can lead to big savings both in time and costs. It typically means the elimination of certain tasks. At the same time scaling down the scope may reduce the value of the project such that it is no longer worthwhile or fails to meet critical success factors. An advantage to reducing project scope is the project is more likely to stay on schedule and on budget. It also allows for more focus being applied to the remaining deliverables in the project scope.

A disadvantage that may arise is loss of quality in work due to key quality deliverables selected to be cut in order to balance the timeline of the project. The key to offsetting the disadvantages is “reassessing the project requirements to determine which are essential and which are optional. This requires the active involvement of all key stakeholders. More intense re-examination of requirements may actually improve the value of the project by getting it done more quickly and for a lower cost. ” (just answer. com 21 May 2010) Three Options for Reducing Project Duration and Advantages and Disadvantages to these Options Reducing the duration a project can be managed by reducing the duration of an activity/activities almost always results in higher direct cost.

When the duration of a critical activity is reduced, the project’s critical path can be change with other activities and that new path will determine the new project completion date. Following are three options to reducing project duration. Adding Resources: This is a popular method to reduce project time by assigning additional staff and equipment to activities-if it is assessed appropriately. The activities at hand need to be researched accordingly and proper determinations of how much time will be saved prior to just throwing bodies at it. The first thing that comes to mind when you add resources is “double the resources, reduce the length of the project in half.

The unforeseen disadvantage that arises is the increase in the amount of time that an existing team member must spend in explaining what has been done already and what is planned. This increases the overall communication time spent by the team which phenomenally ends up adding/losing valuable time. Outsourcing Project work: A common method for shortening the project time is to subcontract an activity. The subcontract may have access to superior technology or expertise that will accelerate the completion of the activity (Gray and Larson, 2008). Additionally, significant cost reduction, and flexibility can be gained when a company outsources (Gray and Larson, 2008).

Disadvantages that may be experienced are conflict due to contrasting interpersonal interactions and internal morale issues if the work has normally been done in-house (Gray and Larson, 2008). Scheduling Overtime: The easiest way to add more labor to a project is not to add more people, but to schedule overtime. The www. businesslink. gov outlines potential advantages of using overtime working include: * a more flexible workforce * the ability to deal with bottlenecks, busy periods, cover of absences and staff shortages without the need to recruit extra staff * increased earning for employees * avoidance of disruption to jobs where the workload is more difficult to share, e. g. ransport and driving * the ability to carry out repair and maintenance which has to be done outside normal working hours However, disadvantages may include: * the expense of premium overtime rates * inefficiency if employees slacken their pace of work in order to qualify for overtime * regular long working hours, which can adversely affect employees’ work, health and home lives * fatigue, which may increase absence levels and lead to unsafe working practices * employee expectations of overtime, leading to resentment and inflexibility if you try to withdraw it. (businesslink. gov, 22 May 2010) Conclusion Usage and availability of resources are essential considerations when establishing Project Networks in Resource Planning.

This analysis has focused on some of the risks of certain actions used to offset resource constraints, advantages/disadvantages for reducing project scope, and options/advantages/disadvantages for reducing project duration. If implemented correctly, careful consideration of the outlined risks will make managing a project a little less painless. References Brighthub. com. Difference Between Schedule Crashing and Compressing, Retrieved 20 May, 2010 http://www. brighthub. com/office/project-management/articles/51684. aspx#ixzz0onfuKUmj Brighthub. com. When to Crash or Compress a Schedule, Retrieved 20 May 2010 http://www. brighthub. com/office/project-management/articles/51684. aspx#ixzz0onfuKUmj

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