Planning and Work Breakdown in Project Management

Project planning and the importance of its elements

Project planning is a managerial tool used to schedule and report the progress of a certain project (Wallace & Henry, 2002). Every manager should prepare a project chart before starting a project because it serves as a timeline for the entire plan to be documented. This can be represented in the form of a gnat chart, which demonstrates the breakdown structure, project plans, workloads, and the time frame. Once the project schedule is accepted by the project management, it becomes the baseline schedule that will form a reference point in relation to the real progress in the field. Matrix management is an element of project planning that is practiced where an individual is reporting to more than one line.

More common though is the fact that it is used to describe the management of cross-functional and other forms of work, which cross the traditional vertical business structures. In matrix management, work assignments are allocated to people who possess the same work skills, and this brings about a situation where more than one manager exists. Here, it becomes easy for the manager to supervise all aspects of the projects, whilst beating the deadline and quality of the work.

Earned value management (EVM) or performance management is a technique for computing and quantifying the project performance and following its progress in an objective way. It is able to measure the costs, scope, and schedule. The technique outlines a precise forecast of the progress of the project based on the prevailing challenges and problems making it an important control tool for project managers.

More recent research findings show that EMV and its principles are positive indicators of the success of the project (Solomon & Ralph, 2006). However, some of its limitations include the incapacity to ascertain the project quality so that it can specify a project that is under budget and ahead of the scheduled scope, but still indicates the customers as being discontented. In addition, EVM should be consistent with the project plan thus limiting its usage in research by establishing the agile software for project managers. This has made room for research whereby the application of EVM in fast-changing environments is a current area of study in project management research (Peter & Morris, 2004).

Benefits of work break down structure, project organization, and word packages

Work breakdown structure is an orderly and incremental division of the project into phases, deliverables, and work packages (Wallace & Henry, 2002). Project managers use it as a control tool for planning the project, implementing the phases, and determining success. Therefore, successful projects are guided by a breakdown structure, because of the following advantages. Firstly, a work breakdown structure provides a basis through which the subsidiary costs of the project phases and roles can be determined.

This helps in acting as a check-off and for assembling requirements for a project to take off. Secondly, through the technique, every individual terminal element can be assigned to be acted upon independently in the breakdown structure. Furthermore, the breakdown structure provides an opportunity to transfer the requirements of a given phase to the other during the project implementation process. In other words, it makes managers plan for their work more effectively and efficiently.

It helps in ensuring that planning for the project is consistent and this provides for effective project execution. Its main purpose is to reduce complicated activities and break them down into a collection of tasks. This in turn makes it easy for the project manager to oversee the tasks more easily than when they were a complex lot before. On cost issues, breakdown structures help in distributing the project budget specific to the tasks to be executed and this ensures that the total cost of the tasks does not exceed the total project cost, which could lead to failure of the project (Wallace & Henry, 2002).

Moreover, it makes the tracking of the project easier basing on the fact that in a work breakdown structure tasks are clearly defined. In addition, work breakdown helps define the scope and this leads to the project team completing all the tasks with no additional work to worry about. In a broad sense, all the small tasks that are done and fulfilled add up to a fully functional project, which is a major criterion for any project. Finally, the breakdown structure streamlines the assigning of responsibility, and the task manager responsible for the project uses it to ensure it’s completed on time, within the budget, and everything including the project is done.

An example is the performance measurement analysis, which measures the size of any variable that will invariably occur. The variance that occurs eventually calls for a corrective action to be executed. The earned value technique uses the cost control as highlighted in the project plan to assess the progress of the project and the size and impact of any variations that may occur in the course of executing the project. It, therefore, involves the formulation of each activity, work package, and any control account (Peter & Morris, 2004).

Considering the nature of the project and the work plan, the project is set to roll without major hitches as the plan at hand is to be as flexible as possible and based on the change control procedures that the team is meant to be taken through during the rigorous training period the laid out plan for the project is expected to be fruitful. The change control and the use of up-to-date methods of evaluation are meant to see the project through.

Emphasis on procedure observation and specific work allocation with a clear work description and allocation and overseeing of tasks with organized hierarchy is expected to give the project a strong start and a perfect finish. It is also expected that in the course of the implementation of the project, a series of evaluation meetings to review the progress, challenges, way forward, and effecting of the necessary changes will be done.

Apart from any arising issues that may come up during the course of the implementation, the project is expected to proceed as planned due to the nature of preparations that have gone a long way to ensure that the project has come this far. To justify all his, the implementation is keen on factoring the necessary changes as will be required, and as the situation will deem appropriate. Therefore, it is important for any project manager to develop a breakdown structure because it acts as a baseline schedule for the project. Here, every activity undertaken at the project level is measured against the set target.

References

Peter, W., & Morris, G. (2004). The Management of Projects. London: Thomas Telford.

Solomon, P., & Ralph, Y. (2006). Performance-Based Earned Value. London: Wiley- IEEE Computer Society.

Wallace, C., & Henry, G. (2002). The Gantt chart, a working tool of management. New York: Ronald Press.