Project Management Methods

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It is all about planning. In the construction industry Project Manager planning tasks should always includes determination of project scope (technical specifications, architect and designer plans), budgets (what does the project owner may afford and what are his lower and upper limits), scheduling, setting performance requirements, and selecting project participants (subcontractors to make all subtasks done).
Any project manager knows how what he should do before hitting the road - it is necessary to write the road map or in other words "WBS"

Where all beginnings starts - WBS. In a same way as an architect plans and specifies a building construction project manager starts working on the project by composing the WBS (work breakdown structure) This a detailed document that lists all the project tasks in the most organized and hierarchical way, WBS defines all work activities need to be executed in order to mark the project as a full completed task.
It is very important to project manager to divide the entire project task into the subtask up to the small blocks that create a project puzzle work packages. In short - WBS is like a book contents that tells the project story from the beginning to the end, lists project cost and provides the full overview of necessary resources and time-frames.
First part of the WBS is created on the base of the customer or project owner directions (in the construction industry it is represented by the investment or real estate company that initiates the construction project) It usually lists main tasks and requirements with the specified timeframes. Main part of the WBS represents all the routine required activities project stages and its priorities, activities resources, time frame, this information is classified into work packages.

Magic solution for the deadline crashes - CPM. Interesting results of more than 1000 companies research indicated that each industry has it's specific priorities in the "magic triangle" of project basics - cost, time and performance. Banking project managers define a project cost as a main priority, while R&D project leaders care mostly about performance of the developed product. Construction Project Manager is mostly interested in completing the building in the timeframe defines by the project owner usually any delays in the project completion results in heavy financial penalties.
This is a reason that scheduling techniques of the project management are so vitally important in this industry. So what is the most frequently used scheduling technique in the construction industry? Critical Path Management (CPM) scheduling method is one of the latest developments in the project management theory; in addition it is the most widely used technique in the construction industry. First, Project Manager analyzes all planned project activities and receives the clear picture on the time of each activity, earliest and latest start and ends and resources. Secondly, he calculates the time buffers (if specific activities can be postponed in time what is the exact flexibility of activity start and end) .It is very important to have a clear visual picture of all the activities and their sequence (it is impossible to start roof construction works whether the wall is still being build) and the resources critical for the specific tasks (let's imagine that the construction crane is used urgently in another project - it becomes critical resource).

At the end of this analysis PM identifies the longest chain of the activities that must be finished without any delay, which is called "critical path". Now he needs to ensure that all the resources will be used to support the activities in critical path. In addition he may try to reduce it buy adding additional resources, extra working hours and additional budget.

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by Alex Zlidin, Project Manager.

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