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Project Management Methodology (Essay Sample)


Project management methodology


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A project is defined as a set of related activities and has known start and end points, which result in the completion of the major outcome. Therefore, project management is planning and controlling of those events, which comprise the project. The main aim of project management is to ensure that resources are effectively used, and project objectives are delivered on time and within a budget (Ginzberg 2009, p. 56).
All projects are broken down into small units called tasks or activities. These activities in a project consume both resources and time, which are controlled by a project manager. For a project to be termed as successful, it should come to completion on time, and be within the set budget, and standards that satisfy the user. Two main characteristics of a project are objectives and life cycle. The life cycle of a project comprises conception stage, design stage, implementation stage, and commissioning stage. Other characteristics include specificity in nature: every project is started with the aim of delivering a unique product.
In this study, Baldwin Water Works renovation and modernisation project is analysed. This water system was constructed in 1856. It is a water system that serves Cleveland in Ohio, USA. This water system has four treatment points and is among the top 10 country treatment facilities in terms of size. It pumps more than five hundred million gallons of clean water to Cleveland homes every day. Later in 1996, there arose the need to renovate and modernize it. The renovation project cost $750 million, the management service provider was the MWH Americas Inc. and its responsibility was to plan, design, construct and carry out quality, time, and cost management. The renovation and modernisation of this water system was meant to maximise and evaluate the supply of water into the region. It was also meant to ensure that its operation was efficient and safe.
Because of diverse characteristics of projects, the choice of project management approach should be done with caution. There are several project management approaches, which include PMBOK, AZ/NZS4360 standards, PRAM, and IQDC. PMBOK was used for the modernisation and renovation project because of its simplicity and characteristics (Kolb & Frohman 2010, p. 167).
The choice of project management approach, which was put in place during renovation and modernisation of this water system, was determined by different characteristics of the project. First, residents required a continuous supply of water even during renovation. This was a hard task for the construction crew, because they had to take more efforts during those periods, when there was little water supplied in the city. It also had to put into place an approach that could ensure that power outage was minimized when there was a high demand for water.
Another characteristic was a historical structure. Buildings were to be modernized, but ensuring that the historical structure was maintained. Construction space was another challenge that required a proper management approach. There was little space, and delicate buildings created problems in preparation and delivery of construction materials to the site. Therefore, the project management approach, which was put in place by the MWH, was aimed at ensuring that these challenges were accommodated, and the project came to completion in time.
In every project undertaken by an organisation, different planning, scheduling and monitoring techniques and tools are used. Such tools include work breakdown structures, Gantt chart, critical path analysis/method, PERT approach and others (Schultz & Pinto2007, p. 27). A work breakdown structure is a project management tool that is used to simplify work to be carried out in a project. It is actually the process of dividing the whole project into smaller sub-projects, which are then broken down into tasks, then sub-tasks and finally into work packages. Building workable breakdown structures requires communal work of project managers. In order to effectively come up with a proper structure, there should be neither too few nor too many levels. If a project is broken into few sub-projects, it will be a little bit difficult to integrate full project activities. On the other hand, a project that has been divided into many sub-projects will result in complexity in analysis; hence, more expenses and time are required to bring it to completion.
A work breakdown structure is divided into two categories: functionally-oriented work breakdown structure and product-oriented work breakdown structure. The latter presupposes dividing the project into sub-projects depending on the expected results, and sub-projects are divided into tasks until small work packages are arrived at (Hammond 2009, p. 46). On the other hand, the functionally-oriented WBS is based on functional departments: a project is divided into units of tasks depending on the department that should work on each of them. In most cases, these two categories can be combined provided work packages are made independent and meaningful.
The renovation of the Baldwin water system was divided into two sub-projects: modernisation and renovation, which were run sequentially. These two sub-projects were then broken down into tasks, whereby painting, re-piping, and reroofing were done. Work packages included delivering and mixing construction materials. This breakdown was remarkably efficient and resulted into work completion and reduced costs at the end of the project (see Table 1).
Table 1
Work Completion and Modernisation Project

A Gantt chart is another project management tool developed by Henry Gantt, a social scientist and engineer. It gives a graphical design that is used to show the schedule of every activity that should be carried out in a project. Basically, having broken down all activities that should be done as laid down in the work breakdown structure; it is easy to allocate specific time to each activity using a Gantt chart. It shows planned start and end dates of terminal activities of a project. Some activities may run concurrently and others may be started after the completion of others (Schultz & Pinto. 2007, p. 54). All these differences in dates of start and completion are well-illustrated by a Gantt chart. In addition to showing these project dates, a Gantt chart is also used to monitor the progress of a project. This will help to know whether the deadline set for particular activities will be met or not.
In the renovation and modernisation of the Baldwin water system, a Gantt chart was effectively used to show the expected start and end dates of the project as well as to monitor its progress. By means of the work break down structure, tasks and work packages were allocated to specific days or periods. Through the implementation of this project, the project manager was able to closely monitor the progress of the project and to evaluate whether the approach used was effective or not. Although a Gantt chart is popularly used currently, it has some disadvantages, which include the difficulty in following the 100 % rule if the Gantt chart design is equated to the project design. If this equalization is done, one will have a combined definition of a work breakdown structure and schedule activities. In order to follow the 100% rule effectively, one should first fully define a work breakdown structure and later design project schedule.
The Gantt chart will effectively serve its purpose if the project is small as compared to dealing with large projects. It only represents a section of constraints, which include scope, time, and cost of projects. This is because its primary focus is laid on schedule management. Because of the fact that a Gantt chart does not show a project’s size or elements’ work size, there is a high chance of miscommunication, when there is a lag in the scheduled time plan. Therefore, a Gantt chart will not indicate the cost strain that is exerted by large projects, if such conditions of being behind schedule occur.
The Baldwin water system renovation project was a small project and the use of Gantt chart was efficient. The 100% rule was met because defining the work breakdown structure and defining activities schedule were done separately.
Table 2
Activities Schedule

Critical Path Analysis is another project management tool used in this renovation project. Although CPA is more powerful, however, similar to a Gantt chart, it is used by managers for schedule projects. Although it has been developed to help in managing large projects, it accommodates small projects and provides good results. It mainly helps in planning all project tasks that must be completed.
Similar to the Gantt chart, CPA acts as a basis for both resource planning and schedule preparation. All achievements of project goals can be easily monitored using this tool. In most cases, projects come to a stand and it is at this point that the use of CPA is helpful (Lucas 2009, p 104). A well-prepared CPA will help a manager to identify where counteractive actions are required in order to ensure that the project continues to its completion. Although a final project plan can be displayed by using a Gantt chart, the use of CPA is advisable, because one develops and tests whether the plan is robust. This is easily achieved because CPA puts into account those tasks, which must be finished in time if the whole project is to come to closure at an appropriate time.
In addition, CPA shows tasks that can be delayed and done later without effects on the end date of the project. Such delays can occur if the available resources are to be reallocated in order to catch up on those tasks, which have been missed or overrun by o...
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