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Project Planning Handbook

Project Planning Handbook

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Project Planning Handbook

ratings:
5/5 (6 ratings)
Length:
378 pages
5 hours
Released:
Mar 28, 2014
ISBN:
9781783066780
Format:
Book

Description

This is the only book that covers all the techniques used in project management under one title. These techniques include Critical Path Analysis, Progress Reporting, Bar Charts, Earned Value Analysis and Relay Analysis. It also includes a large number of diagrams explaining these techniques with working examples.
Released:
Mar 28, 2014
ISBN:
9781783066780
Format:
Book

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Project Planning Handbook - Paul Whatley

CHAPTER 1 – INTRODUCTION

The project management skills that are used today to undertake a project such as design, procurement, coordination and management of resources were always part of the construction of the impressive achievements of earlier generations. However, many of the world’s earliest projects were either religious or military, took decades to build and probably had almost unlimited budgets. Since the beginning of the industrial age projects have had to become commercially viable, they are part of a value chain and must have a budget and time period for completion - both are inextricably linked. It is unlikely that either were particularly well understood or controlled in former times which sets apart what was project management as practised by our ancestors to contemporary project management. In this respect the last few decades has seen project management develop as a distinct and recognised function and most commercial and industrial endeavours are managed as a project.

A typical construction project has also changed and now contains many more separate elements and systems than was formerly the case - from concrete to software. The breadth of technologies and the specialisation has meant that in most projects specialist Sub-contractors are undertaking more and more work. This is not only the manufacture and construction of an element, specialist Sub-contractors are also designing and building their own parts of a project and integrating them with other parts being designed and built by other specialist Sub-contractors. The consequence of this is that Contractors are no longer just builders - they cannot possibly be specialists in all the technologies that they now have to deal with; they have become project managers and manage other companies that are doing the work. Rather than simply procure materials and employ large numbers of tradesmen one of their main functions is to co-ordinate and manage the different subcontracts that are required for a modern project. This is probably one of the reasons why standard forms of contract have been developed to deal with projects where the entire scope of a project is subcontracted to specialists.

The development of project management as a function has also brought with it systems and technologies that aid the process. There is a wide body of knowledge on project management with thousands of books and journals written on all aspects of managing a project such as value, quality, risk and human resource management but relatively few on project planning. Yet, a project programme is fundamentally important to a project as it plays such a large part in organising and then controlling a project so that its objectives can be achieved and the project completed within the duration required - a vital requirement if a project is going to be successful. A programme also has functions other than simply planning a project as it acts as a baseline for the reporting and measurement of progress. Assessing and reporting progress are very important to project management as it is essential to know exactly what progress has been achieved at any particular time in order to have a starting point to establish when a project is likely to be completed - essential information for both a Contractor and an Employer. Once again there is little in current project management literature on reporting progress and predicting the likely completion date of a project.

A further important function of a programme is a claim for an extension of time (EOT) from one (and sometimes all) of the parties involved in a project directed towards the party that has employed them is not unusual. Sometimes this can develop into arbitration or litigation, but usually adjudication in the UK. In such circumstances a vital reference document will be the programme agreed for the works, the progress assessments that were produced during the course of the project and the as-built programme. In this respect a good project programme at the outset will firstly reduce the risk of a claim as some disputes have their origins in a poor quality programme and secondly, a good programme is a good starting point from which an appropriate EOT can be agreed in negotiation or if a formal dispute develops.

Project planning is one of the sciences of project management and is also an important part of Total Quality Management (TQM). Once the scope of work has been identified the process of planning a project requires the analysis of the work to be carried out and how the different elements coordinate with each other, what has to be achieved at different stages and how the project is to be organised. Once again, in books, journals and courses on TQM project planning gets short shrift. Where planning is discussed in project management books it is usually an explanation of bar charts and critical path analysis and relies on expressions such as ‘The project has to be planned’ without giving much if any practical advice as to how this might be achieved. The measurement of progress gets even shorter shrift and is frequently not mentioned at all, relying on expressions such as ‘Progress has to be measured’ and ‘Delays to progress should be corrected’ without any explanation of how either are achieved and in the case of the latter how difficult this can be. Finally, making claims for an EOT is also not mentioned a great deal in books and journals on project management yet making and responding to claims for an EOT is a fact of project management life.

A further advantage to having a good programme is that individuals and organisations will actually work more efficiently if they are working to a well thought out programme with clear objectives. It will make them aware of their deliverables, the rate at which they must produce work, the Milestones that must be achieved and when their work must be completed by so that they can organise it accordingly. By not having a programme it is difficult to monitor progress and the completion date of a project or part of a project will be inclined to drift. Although, it is not to say that many construction companies have not recognised the importance of planning to their operations as many of them have. They have purchased planning software and employed individuals to plan their operations but have discovered how difficult it can be to plan a project, progress it properly and deal with all of the issues that come with managing time in a construction project.

There is movement toward accreditation for planners but the industry appears to mainly rely on on the job training. The author believes the lack of guidance and training on the immensely difficult process of project planning and progress measurement in literature and in our colleges and universities is one of the reasons that many projects in all industries, not just in construction, finish later than planned. For many projects this frequently leads to a mass of claims and counter claims such that there is a considerable part of the legal profession and other parts of the industry who only ever deal with such matters.

The consequences to a Contractor of a project being completed later than planned are reduced or complete loss of profit or worse still loss of money. It can result in litigation or arbitration, bankruptcy and sometimes all of them. Similarly, the consequences for an Employer if a project finishes late are significant notwithstanding that there may be delay damages and other arrangements to protect the Employer from the nonperformance of a Contractor. This is because it is also not unusual that there is a limit to the delay damages that are payable of say ten per cent or twenty per cent of the contract sum (it is unusual that there is no limit to delay damages) which means that a project could be completed very late but delay damages only apply for a limited period. When this period has expired an Employer will suffer the full costs of delay until the project is completed unless that is there is some other remedy included in the contract that may be available to it.

Even if there is not a limit to the delay damages and a project is completed very late, withholding sums to a Contractor for delay damages can force a Contractor or Subcontractor into liquidation. This is the last thing an Employer wants as in such circumstances extracting delay damages will probably be impossible and a Contractor going into liquidation will make the delay even worse as a replacement Contractor will need to be procured and once appointed there will be a mobilisation period before work can resume. In short, despite the considerable efforts to do so, an Employer can never completely insulate itself from the risk of its project being completed late.

This is not a healthy state of affairs - project planning and progress measurement are complicated endeavours but are the essence of project management. If either is not done properly it will lead to the project objectives of time, probably cost and sometimes quality not being achieved.

While it is obvious that a Contractor needs a good programme to carry out its works, because an Employer cannot insulate itself entirely from the consequences of delay, it is also in the Employer’s interest that the Contractor produces a good programme and regularly provides good progress reports. This means that an Employer and its agents should not play a reactive role on the subject of programme and progress reports but be proactive in ensuring both are produced to the highest standards. Similarly, all parties have a vested interest in producing accurate progress reports and agreeing revised completion dates with the minimum of fuss, contemporaneously if possible, but failing that retrospectively in a non-contentious manner. When this occurs the pain and possibly the costs can be kept to a minimum.

With a view to addressing these issues this book will cover the following subjects;

CHAPTER 2 – THE BASICS

The Readers Knowledge of Project Planning

This book is ideally for those who already have an understanding of bar charts and critical path analysis (CPA) or critical path method (CPM). They are fundamental to project management and project planning. Most people have come across and understand bar charts and those that have had any training or experience in a project management environment may have come across CPM. These topics are subjects in themselves, well covered by existing literature and in this book it is assumed that the reader already has some knowledge of them. However, this should not put off someone who has no experience of these techniques as they are not difficult to learn and one need only spend a short time working with them to be able to understand them and start planning a project.

Gender, Projects and Capitalisation

In this book for simplicity the person carrying out the planning will be referred to as ‘he’ although it could be she or even they. Similarly, the expression man-hours and man-days will be used. It is a generic expression universally understood and sounds and reads much easier than person-hours, person-days or operative-hours. Also, the terms contract, project and the works will be used to mean the same thing, all contracts are projects and most projects are made up of a contract or contracts. Similarly, only the term Employer will be used but will also mean Client and Owner. Finally, capitalisation will be kept to a minimum.

Contractor, Main Contractor, General Contractor, Sub-Contractor and Trade Contractor

This book will not differentiate between the different forms of procuring a project and the contracts that are used such as design and build, build only or one of the standard management forms of contract. Planning a project is the same regardless of the method of procurement and the contract that is used. Also, only the expression Contractor and Sub-contractor will be used. Where the term Contractor is used it will mean Main Contractor, General Contractor or Construction Manager and where the term Subcontractor is used it will also mean Trade Contractor if the project was being undertaken using a standard management form of contract.

Programme and Schedule

The expressions programme and schedule are used as meaning the same thing depending on the industry and the country that a project is being carried out in. In this book the expression programme will be used.

Time Unit

Project planning is all about time whether it is minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or years. In construction planning the smallest unit of time that is of practical use is usually not less than one day although sometimes hours are used - projects for the shutdown of a process plant for maintenance are usually planned in hours. In this book the smallest time unit that will be used will be one day or multiples thereof although the principles expounded in this book are the same for whatever time unit is used.

Computers

While it is possible that all the techniques in this book can be implemented without computers and the appropriate software it is not practical. Planning a project properly requires too much detail to be undertaken without the use of computer hardware and project planning software. It is therefore assumed that all of the techniques discussed in this book will be undertaken using a computer and the appropriate software. Many of the techniques described in this book are in fact much easier to understand by actually using planning software to produce a simple programme and trying out the techniques described in this book.

Software

There are many planning software that can be used to plan a project. The choice between them is very much a matter of personal choice but if there is any advice to be given it is that complicated projects will need powerful software which will be at the top end of the price range. Correspondingly, simpler projects will not need such powerful software and will be cheaper. Whatever software is selected there must be a conscious effort by the planner to explore, test and where beneficial to the project, use all of its capabilities. Often the full power of software is not used and sometimes, to the detriment of a project, software is only used to produce a programme that is never updated or progressed.

However, it is important to remember that planning software is essentially a calculator that will calculate dates and other information and then represent the results graphically. Applying project planning or a particular software will not guarantee a project will be completed on time and to budget. What is important is that planning expertise is developed within the individuals involved in the project and the Contractors carrying out the work as a whole. Whatever software is used is much less important. This is particularly the case considering that sometimes there is no choice in the matter and an Employer will stipulate the type of software that a Contractor must use for a project.

Contract Administrator, Project Manager, Employer’s Agent

A construction contract is typically administered by any one of the above. They all have the duty to administer a contract fairly and to act professionally at all times. However, a Contract Administrator (CA) is arguably more of a reactive role while a Project Manager (PM) or an Employer’s agent (EA) has to not only administer a contract they often have other specific duties as part of their appointment and have to be more proactive on behalf of the Employer in ensuring a project achieves its objectives. For the sake of simplicity only the term Contract Administrator or CA will be used in this book but it will apply equally to contracts where a Project Manager or Employer’s Agent is appointed to administer a contract.

What is a Project?

Simply put a project is an objective with a start date, duration, a finish date and a budget. This defines most business functions, not only a construction project, but an example of a simple construction project would be a brick wall of consistent height with no special features constructed on flat, firm ground with consistent ground conditions and good access for vehicles. A project such as this has negligible interfacing, there is only one principal resource, logistics are probably straightforward, the foundations can be constructed well in advance of the brickwork - the main dependency for constructing the principal work, the rate in which the work needs to be done is consistent and may be easily calculated at the beginning of a project. Also, while the work is actually being carried out the work achieved, the rate of progress and the likely completion date of the project can be easily assessed and any increase in output that is required may be easily calculated. However, projects are seldom like this. The usual scenario is there are always many separate elements to a construction project that are all inter related and interdependent. Production rates are seldom consistent for long, many different activities are happening at the same time and most activities cannot be carried out much in advance of those following to a point where a project can only proceed as fast as the slowest activity.

Furthermore, logistics usually have to be considered and this does not only mean moving vehicles and labour onto a site. It can also mean the transportation of operatives and materials up, down or through a building or the cranage required to unload and position materials. Also, an important characteristic about practically all projects is there is increasing specialisation in projects and the component parts usually have to be subcontracted by a Contractor or an Employer, depending on what method of procurement is selected to a specialist. It is not unusual for a project that very little work is carried out by the Contractor itself with the exception of management and all work is subcontracted. This has been forced on the industry, in part by the diverse and specialist technologies that are used in a typical project but it is also not unusual for traditional building trades such as brickwork to be subcontracted completely. As the criteria for selection of Sub-contractors is usually the lowest price presumably in some cases Contractors have found this approach the most economical.

Therefore, despite the simple definition given above a typical construction project is a patchwork quilt of contracts consisting of a main contract, design contracts, subcontracts, trade contracts, labour only contracts, supply contracts, the Employer’s professional team, sometimes nominated contracts and novated contracts. This diverse team, who may never work with each other again, is engaged in producing a product that includes everything from concrete to software, all of which has to be put together in a time frame that is usually not based on much in the way of an analysis. Typically, a comparison is made with similar, completed projects although sometimes this can be irrelevant as a contract duration is set not because it is a realistic period for the project in question but because of external constraints and the project must

be completed by a certain date. Regardless of a how the duration for a project is established Contractors are expected to stitch together the different elements into a programme to be able to complete a project in the time allowed.

The result of having so many different parties involved in a project is there are many fault lines. Consequently, it only takes the failure of a designer or a Sub-contractor or even a Sub-sub-contractor to delay a project. Therefore, while a project is all of the things mentioned in the first paragraph of this section, namely a particular product with a definable start date, finish date and budget, it is in fact a complicated bundle. It is practically always multi-disciplinary with progressively more and more organisations becoming involved and more money committed to the project as it progresses through its various stages. For the project to have any hope of achieving its objectives it is necessary for all the different elements to be organised and co-ordinated to come together as efficiently as possible in a timely fashion. This is largely achieved by means of a programme, which, if not prepared with care, will start the project off on the wrong foot from which it is unlikely to recover.

Things do go wrong, even in the best run project, Sub-contractors go into liquidation, there can be industrial action, inclement weather, machinery and equipment can breakdown or fail to meet their outputs to name but a few of the events that can happen. Where possible, the contractual agreement should take account of these risks and the pricing of a project should include for them accepting that no project is without some element of risk.

Despite the compelling reasons to plan a project properly some in the industry may feel that the inevitability of serious problems during a project makes a serious attempt at planning pointless with a reliance on a claim to take account of any delay to the completion date of the project and any costs arising. This negative attitude is incorrect and even dangerous for the following reasons:

What is a Programme?

If a programme is so fundamental to a project it is important to define what a programme is:

A programme is a time based method statement. It is produced as a document or documents or even software where the activities required to complete a project or part thereof by a particular date are represented. It can include design, procurement, manufacturing, construction or whatever the element of work is. In it shortest form it could be a title with a start and a finish date. On the other hand, it can be several thousands of activities constructed as a CPN in an electronic format or in hardcopy.

There are no rules for what detail or information that a programme should contain. There are also many types of programmes and some of them are listed in Table 1.

What are the Functions of a Programme?

If a programme is defined as above it is necessary to describe the particular functions and requirements of a programme as follows:

By achieving the above a programme becomes one of the main tools to organise and manage a project - but these are all tangible functions. A programme, particularly when displayed as a bar chart, also permits those involved to get a feel for the project - to be able to understand in broad terms the scope of the project and to see the flow of work and how a project will be constructed. It does not do this in isolation as models, logistic schemes, sequence diagrams and method statements also contribute to this objective but a programme is arguably the most important of them all.

To be able to create a programme for a project requires the input from many disparate groups whose individual contributions must come together in a co-ordinated fashion to produce a plan. For a small project it requires only a limited amount of work, for a large or complicated project the process of planning becomes considerably more complex and is seldom achieved at the first attempt. It includes producing a critical path analysis, identifying critical path(s), splitting the work into design programmes, procurement programmes, sub or trade contract programmes and logistic schemes. The resources to carry out the works must be identified and then scheduled to achieve as much as possible a consistent level of resources. Contingencies must be built in where possible and method statements produced for the project and for each element. Contracts and Subcontracts need to be tendered, the bidding Contractor’s programmes and method statements analysed, taking on board the selected Contractors or Subcontractors programmes and methods. Once the project has started progress has to be monitored. Progress reports then have to be produced, variations or delays have to be taken account of and claims for EOT made or assessed.

This is not an easy process and many teams that have endeavoured to produce this information may have found on occasions that the task is so difficult that they end up with a simplistic scheme. It is however better to persist and produce a workable scheme that assists the team in delivering the project. The best programmes are often produced as a result of several abortive attempts and when this occurs there is always a better understanding of what is required to undertake the project. It is a truism that if you know the programme you know the project.

The Job of a Planner

The essence of a planner’s duties is to create a scheme that shows how the scope of work of a project can be designed, procured and built within the duration required. This means identifying, usually with others, the activities that will summarise the scope of work, accepting that it is impractical to identify in a programme every single item of work. Also, relationships between these activities and the methods in which the work will be carried out need to be identified. This includes producing the following deliverables namely:

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  • (5/5)
    excellent book. Thank you very much for sharing this valuable info.
  • (5/5)
    The book covered a lot on planning and scheduling what you cant find in any other book