The submitted project as viewed from Microsoft Project office is estimated to be completed in 482.5 days. The work break down schedule for the project comprises several tasks with different activities outlined with specified durations and predecessors. This project follows the convention for normal WBS of a project. The drafts of the project outlines the initiation of the project by sourcing raw materials for the final product with the activities required for every task. The best practice of a project management is to have every task with its respective predecessor as outlined in the project management tool.
A successful project must have details of the resource allocated to every task apart from the duration (Agile Project Management, 2013). The materials have been evaluated and reviewed based on the performance as indicated. The depiction from the project management shows the role of the project manager in allocating resources based on the percentage of the overall resource allocation. This is indicated in the resource names column from the WBS. The activities have been clearly marked with their start and end dates.
The project is also well planned in terms of budgeting since every resource allocated has been placed within the budget. Budgeting is important in project management as it helps in estimating the total cost of the project before start. Starting a project without budgeting is a risk that might not have a mitigation strategy. The screenshot bellow indicates the budgeting allocation for various resources and activities.
The project also seems to be on the right track to start as there is no any overallocation of resources. Overallocation occurs when a resources is assigned more work that is able to handle. This has the ability of slowing down the project and hindering delivery within the specified timeline.
For a successful project, there is need for monitoring of the activities outlined in the WBS which can be achieved by different parameters as the network diagrams, duration and resource allocation (Snyder, 2015). Based on the standards of project management, risks are likely to happen within the course of the project. in measuring the project timeline and duration of completion for every activity, it is a good practice to have the three parametric measurement of time as pessimistic time, most likely time and optimistic time. These time variations are important in the case of an event or activity not happening as planned. The draft project has not considered such constraints which might result in problems while mitigating risks in future course of the project.
Without the three time constraints, it is difficult to come up with the critical paths in the project. a well planned project must consider the capability to monitor the progress by the project managers. Monitoring can be based on the slack and other parameters which according to the draft are hard to tell and determine.
Two plans are provided for the approval process of the draft project plan to take place. While deciding on which plan to select, it is important to review all the success factors that entail project success. The success of the project is usually determined by different constraints not limited to time, management, monitoring, resource allocation, risk management and budgeting. The allocation of resources for the activities must always go in hand with the estimated budget to meet the deliverables of the project objectives.
Option B: Improve the Draft Plan by Requiring the PM to Modify the Plan
Having reviewed and analyzed the project plan, it will be risky to approve it without making some changes. The changes must include the additional time constraints and incorporation of risk management plan. Being a big project, it could be problematic if there are no ways of mitigating risks. This is not an optional assumption to make as risks apply to almost every project. The PM will have to review the project and make adjustable changes as will be outlined in this paper.
Fix Missing Activity Durations and Resources
From the draft project, there are some activities with missing durations. An activity like the approval of raw material should have at least a resource allocated to it and a duration. The duration and the resource is missing in the current project plan as seen from the screenshot. Not only this activity but more others are missing the durations and other constraints as;
The project manager needs to append the durations for such activities to WBS to avoid future risks in the project. Having a hanging activity that has no duration might be a limitation to the expected start date of the dependent activity. This might cause lateness in the start of another activity since the activity will be consuming time that had not been allocated.
Define the missing predecessors of the project WBS activities
Some predecessors are also missing or not in the right format this is likely to affect the Gantt chart and the network diagram. The implication will be poor monitoring and wrong WBS.
The PM will need to define the predecessors for each activity in the right manner and outline them clearly. This will be important during some analyses such as PERT or CPM to find out the right sequencing of the activities that will result in the successful completion of the project. time is among the most critical constraint that has be monitored for a successful project delivery.
There are also some missing activities which have allocated durations in the WBS. Having a missing activity with allocated time duration is definitely cause of delay on the start of another activity that has been linked to the missing activity. In this case, activity 7 is missing and has some dependency and allocated resource. To fix this issue there is need to free up the resource by deleting this undefined activity in the project plan.
Activity 7 will be replaced by activity 7 reducing the project duration by 21 days as seen in the bellow screenshot.
The Expected WBS after Improvements
After correcting and fixing the missing resources and durations, the project plan is in a usable condition but then there lies more changes that need to be made and improved.
Redefine Time Constraints.
During the project management, durations are defined but there are likelihood of risks. Some of the risks and the main one is the delay in project activities (Practice standard for project risk management, 2009).In the case of delay of any for this project, there will be problems trying to sort out this issue due to the fixed time durations. It is a good practice to define the pessimistic and optimistic time durations with variations to the estimated time duration. However, PERT method can only apply to a project plan that had not been initiated before, therefore for this case since the duration had already been estimated for every activity, another method Critical Path Method (CPM) can be used to evaluate the durations for the project based on the draft. CPM is a method that was invented to help in project management and time estimation and is commonly used in all projects (Snyder, n.d.). This method uses the tasks, dependencies and durations defined in PERT to determine the longest path in the project. This path represents the critical path of the project and any delay of an activity in this path will mean delay in the delivery of the project. Therefore, appending some of these constraints to the project will help us determine the shortest time the project is likely to take.
To modify this draft, the PM will need to append some more columns to the project plan. The columns will include; Early start (ES), Late Start (LS), Early finish (EF) and late finish (LF). It will be upon the decision of the project manager and the involved team members to determine the dates for the four parameters in the project plan.
Define Milestones for the Project
For a successful project and such along project, it is important to have some check points that the PM will use to monitor the progress and performance of the project. Milestones will help the project team to identify the completion of a group of activities and determine that notable points have been reached (Snyder, n.d.). For this point it will be important to define some key milestones in the project plan.
During this process, the PM will have to consider some best practices such as;
- Set milestones to zero days, since these are just check points and not activities and therefore should not have durations.
- The milestones must also have predecessors to demonstrate the impact on the delivery of those milestones.
- The milestones should not have deadline constrains to avoid restriction on the flexibility to re-plan the activities that are associated with the milestones.
- No resources should be assign to the milestones.
In this project, an example of the milestone is illustrated in the screenshot bellow indicated on the Gantt chart with a diamond symbol.
Expected Results after Changes
After the changes have been made to the project plan and everything implemented, there are some changes and expectations that will be expected to be seen at the end. Some of the expected results can reflected and analyzed to confirm the success of the project as will be elaborated in this section.
The PM will announce the commencement of the project on the project start date. This might involve meeting with the project team and the stakeholders for the project. This task has been marked as the first milestone in the project plan to indicate that the projected has started and every resource has to take its rightful position and get to the task. the work of the project manager will be to monitor the project plan using the work breakdown schedule to prove that the project is taking the rightful course in the implementation.
The next meeting is expected to be held on 16th February to mark the completion of the performance of the raw materials for the project. This will usher in the next stage of the project which will commence with the selection of the market. The next milestone will be the documentation of the feasibility report on 3rd of August. Monitoring will be done using the WBS and other tools such as the network diagram. Every task will run as expected and as indicated on the WBS and each task will have dependency on at least one task in the plan. Milestones will be identified in the project plan with absence of duration and resources assigned to them.
If the time constraints, budgeting and resource allocation is implemented in the rightful manner as expected, the projected will be completed in the estimated duration as indicated. The risks that might occur in the course of the project will be sustained by the time constraints added to the project plan. Some changes are expected to happen in the structure of the network diagram and the Gantt chart due to the additional predecessors on the activities that were missing predecessors before.
Changes on Implementation
If the new plan is implemented, the project duration will change as on the WBS due to the modifications in the activities. However, the project completion is more likely to be more accurate and in time since almost every risk will have been catered for. The implementation will be monitored from the start by the project manager and the stakeholders in different ways using some parameters. Successful implementation will be marked by the outputs of the project in comparison to the input and budgeting. The milestones will help in marking the sub completion of the project. Dividing a project into sub tasks and milestones helps the managers to mark the success of the project as the whole is marked by parts which are indicated by the milestones.
The final expectations will be to see the project deliver all the set goals and requirements. If the project does not perform as per the expected delivery plan, then it will mean that the plan selected was not appropriate. The delivery of the project and the new functionalities will have to compared against the planned objectives to make sure that every detail is captured. Business requirements will help to counter check the successful delivery of the project based on the plan. The implementation should be able to deliver the expected benefits to prove the success of the plan.
Measuring Successful Implementation of the Plan
In order to measure the success of this project, there will be need to carry out an evaluation in different ways to confirm that the project is delivered as expected. Some of the evaluation tactics that will be useful in confirm the success is outlined below:
- Customer and stakeholder satisfaction
Conducting a survey at the end of the project implementation will help in answering this question. The survey should include all the parties involved in the request for the business including the client and the customer (Snyder, n.d.). The client must confirm that the required changes in the business have been highlighted and reflected.
- Counter check the Project deliverable against the Objectives
The end users of the project must be interviewed to confirm that the project was able to meet the set objectives at the beginning. Sometimes the team that worked on the project might be part of the end users of the project result. Evaluation of the objectives will confirm the deliverables of the project.
- Evaluate user adoption
The users of the project deliverable should be reached to confirm that the project meets the desired deliverable functionality. If there are no changes required in the implementation, then this will be a guarantee that the project was successful based on the selected plan. High usability and adoption rate should be an indication that the implementation was up to the mark.
- Evaluate the final outcome of the project
The final delivery of the project will be evaluated to see the rate of excellence after implementation. the parties involved in the project has to be questioned on the deliverable of the final result if everything is running smoothly. If the implementation results did not reflect any confusion, then the implementation was a success. If the stakeholders complain about the delivery of the project, then this is an indication of incomplete delivery of the objectives. The project manager will have to focus on the project objectives during the implementation to confirm that the requirements are met (Agile Project Management, 2013).
- Governance requirements
The implementation of this plan should be successful if the project meets governance requirements at the implementation. it will be a good practice to compare the project outcome with other advisors to determine the credibility of the project and the reliability on the outcome. If the plan resulted to the successful implementation, the project should have been reviewed thoroughly throughout the process. If the review process did not go through well then it is most likely that the implementation will not be successful.
- Check the benefit of the project to the stakeholders.
I will also review the project to confirm the benefit it provides to the stakeholders to confirm if the plan was successful. The benefit of the project can be measured by the magnitude of the improvement the project will bring to the company. The benefit of the project will be noticeable if the implementation was successful. However, sometimes the project might have been successful but the benefits were not noticed at first instance. In such a scenario, there might be need to review the objectives of the next project in the cycle (Agile Project Management, 2013).
The selection of the plan was meant to end in the success of the project and delivery of the objectives as planned. It should be noted that the modifications and changes that are required to be made on the project was a proposal of how the PM could improve the outcome of the project and success of the planning. Improvements made on the planning of the project are a projection of successful delivery of the business requirements considering that there could be risks in the entire project process.
The plan to make changes on the project plan was intended to reduce the possibility of failures in the project delivery which could result from issues such as overallocation of resources, under estimation of the budget, underestimation of activity durations and wrong mapping and linking the activities. The success of the project can also be estimated by monitoring the milestones which were well defined in the project plan.
Agile Project Management. (2013). Practice standard for project risk management (1st Ed). Delaware, Pennsylvania: Newtown Square.
Snyder, C. (2015). A user’s manual to the PMBOK guide (5th Ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.