Despite the growth and use of capable project management software, the field of project management still encounters many issues and scheduling problems that are challenging and difficult to represent. Some of the issues arisen during project scheduling include representing task dependencies, resource leveling, quickly-changing work assignments or managing difficult-to-predict and making schedules that are easy to during the execution of the project. In addition, in a case where the project is not scheduled properly, it may end up taking a longer time than it is planned in the budget. On the other hand, due to mismanagement of resources, the budget may be large or tight. As a result of these issues, successful project managers appreciate the importance of project schedule modeling during the process of defining the project scope. A well-modeled project schedule helps in avoiding deviations and accommodates changes during the execution process. Poor project management may compromise the quality of the project results, costs, and schedule. Therefore, this paper will discuss project schedule modeling and its relevance to the project.
Project Schedule Modelling
Project management is a process of carefully controlling, motivating, organizing, and planning resources for the purpose of meeting specific success criteria and achieving defined goals. The fact that projects are temporary encourages designers to create unique results, services, or products. That is why, they require project schedule modeling that will facilitate a quality project within the set timeline, using the budgeted resources. Project schedule modeling is a communication tool that allows project managers to understand the project better by illustrating potential project results. Normally, project stakeholders use a business-oriented language while the project team uses a technical language, a factor that results in technicalities that mislead the meaning (Lawrence & Pasternack, 2002). Therefore, the project schedule modeling system provides the communication tool that facilitates communication and enhances understanding.
Project schedule modeling is a broader term that includes several approaches and techniques that predict and describe the behavior of a system from agent-based modeling, mathematical models, simple graphs to flow charts. This system modeling of the project schedule facilitates the development of the design plan that enables the project team and stakeholders to compare, analyze, and test different services or products. In other words, the modeling system improves the communication and comprehension of the project in terms of requirements and project expectations (Sangr, Duart, & Guardia, 1999).
The scheduling of a multi-model resources project is powerful and most general modeling used in mapping important situations occurring in real-world projects. The paper focuses on indicating the application of optimal baseline project schedules that ensure the effective execution of the project. For the baseline schedule to be developed, it requires a new mathematical model of a time-independent model. Further, the time-independent model (TIM) needs the modeling of activities with prior execution and relation using a Petri net. Later, the PN model is converted to an IP (integer programming) model. The solution that the IP model provides is fast and effective when it comes to computational time, unlike the existing and commonly used solution methods for handling project scheduling problems. However, the scheduling models of a resource-constrained project can handle simultaneous scheduling, alternative activity completion modes, and major scheduling objectives of multiple projects. Moreover, this approach allows for amendments of scheduling problems by commercially available linear programming software or mixed-integer. Finally, numerical values are used to permit the illustration of this approach and its advantages (Project Management Institute, 2000).
The analysis of schedule risks uses the principles of cost risk analysis that are applied to modeling general risks, opportunities, and uncertainty. However, it is necessary for it to cope with the complexity of inter-relationships modeling between different tasks in the project. Basically, project schedule modeling looks for simple building blocks, which can be used to create a schedule risk analysis. Further, modeling indicates the process of combining these elements to produce a realistic model. The realistic model helps the project team to perform their activities or tasks within the predicted budget and timeline because the schedule is able to capture dependencies between inputs. Generally, the modeling system identifies the appropriate correlation between various tasks in the project, thus reflecting the reality of the project (Project Management Institute, 2000).
In most cases, people prefer using software tools that help to run the simulations of Monte Carlo on standard project planning applications that such as open plan and Microsoft project. The advanced technology of simulation and software models provided an opportunity to learn. However, due to a lack of flexibility in modeling feedback loops and discrete risks, these tools do not work effectively in real projects. This illustration shows the relevance of project schedule modeling in real projects that develop services and products for people. Project plans contain a number of individual tasks that have a start and completion dates. The scheduling model uses these tasks in various ways. The first way of linking is called F-S or finish-start relation (Sangr, Duart, & Guardia, 1999).
The model indicates that the preceding task has to be completed for the next task to commence. Therefore, the completion of the second task depends on the completion of the first task. F-S is a commonly used project planning model where the linking ensures that one task must be finished before the beginning of the next one (Stover & Teresa, 2003). The second model is referred to as S-S or start-start. In this model, one activity cannot commence until another activity has begun too. In addition, this model implies that the performance of a certain task in the project depends on the start and progress of the first task. The third model is called S-S+ x or start-start + lag. This model requires the first task to be partially complete before the second or next task. Finally, scheduling modeling has a model known as F-F or finish-finish. This model requires that the completion of the second task depends on the completion of the preceding task. Similarly, the first task must be completed for the next one to be complete. Figure 1 below represents the model relationships diagrammatically (Alba & Francisco, 2007).
It is always necessary for the schedule model to be clear because it avoids then complex interpretations of the model. The diagram in figure 2 below illustrates a simple network diagram of the project schedule model for a construction project. The diagram shows the flow of activities or tasks and their dependency. For example, task 2 cannot start before the completion of task 1. Similarly, the activities of task 5 depend on the completion of task 2 and task 4. The bold lines in the diagram have been used to show the links between project tasks. The time taken to complete the project can be determined by taking the amount of time every task needs to be completed in the project (Sangr, Duart, & Guardia, 1999).
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Moreover, the network diagram helps the project manager to know which task should be distributed with resources in the first place in a situation where there are not enough resources in the inventory. This kind of decision facilitated by the model is vital because it facilitates the completion of the project within the time scales despite delays of materials or insufficient funds. By the time the first task gets completed, all required materials would have been brought to continue with the rest of the project as per the schedule model (Stover & Teresa, 2003). Real projects normally contain different situations that demand specific approaches. Due to the mix of situations, the network diagram is used to indicate the flow of tasks in the project. The parallel network diagram allows the task to be performed simultaneously, especially in a situation where tasks are not dependent. This can be illustrated in Figure 2 below:-
Time phase baseline project scheduling
The development of a time-phased baseline is important in project management because it enables the project to be completed within the required time. A time-phased baseline achieves its objective through the distribution of resources, milestones, tasks, and activities within a given time scale, thus facilitating the scheduled project or plan to be completed (Li & Womer, 2009). It is always necessary for the project managers to use the time phase baseline because it enables the project team and stakeholders to examine the project visually with regard to costs and time sequence. However, the process of phase-baseline begins by dividing the project into individual tasks or activities. Thereafter, they are grouped or condensed into WBS (work breakdown structure). The WBS helps stakeholders and the project manager to visualize broken activities that are based on the project timeline. According to Lawrence & Pasternack (2002), tasks are expected to occur normally during business days. This indicates that any task executed outside normal business days is counted as done on the next working day. For example, in a case where a task is executed on Sunday, the planning process will consider the task is performed on Monday.
Incidents Facilitating Learning and Understanding
Computer technology and simulations are some of the incidents that improve the understanding of schedule modeling. In addition, other factors such as modeling techniques and methods also facilitate schedule modeling. The learning of computer simulation models helps in building mental models that are based on the model’s behavior. Moreover, computer technology enables people to interact with the computer and interface models. These possibilities provide changes of variables within the model, the factor that helps to obtain computed results due to manipulations (Alba & Francisco, 2007). These developments in project planning enhance the understanding of clients, team members, and other stakeholders because they involve them all during the project process.
Furthermore, the introduction of new technology has enabled the development of software that facilitates modeling of schedule. For example, software models require the project manager to insert the input and the software does the modeling of the schedule. The developed schedule gives a clear picture of what will be expected in terms of costs, materials, time scale. The work of the project manager will be a little bit simpler because he or she will be required to ensure that materials are available in the inventory as per the corresponding dependency of preceding activities (Alba & Francisco, 2007).
Relevance and Future Application
Modeling applications are playing a greater role in the world today. Most of the successful projects happen as a result of project schedule modeling. The effectiveness of project management has been attained because modeling has enhanced the accuracy of project managers’ performance. Moreover, new software modeling facilitates the development of accurate plans that effectively indicate the time scale, required materials, and dependency on task activities (Alba & Francisco, 2007). In the future, the new technology will enhance the quality of projects as it gives the project manager enough time to complete the project. Generally, great projects such as cities, manufacturing industries, business systems, and many others will be managed better with the help of this innovation. In the future, the new technology will facilitate project scheduling, thus enabling the completion of projects within a short period. In addition, the quality of projects will be improved due to the enhancement of project management. It has been important to make sure that the right management is involved during discussions and that team members know different types of resources required for the completion of the project. It has also been necessary for everyone in the project to understand the expected uncertainties even when the project seems to be running smoothly (Heimerl & Kolisch, 2010). Therefore, the above requirements have been attained because they have been facilitated by project schedule modeling. What is more, project schedule modeling has enhanced safety and improved the performance of the business because the qualities of projects are appealing to customers, hence creating customer or client satisfaction. Further, the advancement in technology in modeling has enabled project managers and other team members to acquire relevant knowledge necessary in the field of project management (Uyttewaal & Eric, 2001).
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Project schedule modeling has facilitated the completion of projects within the time scale and predicted budget. In addition, it has enhanced the quality of projects through the improvement of project management skills and experience. The new technology of software development and great challenges, such as changes in the project scheduling model, have also provided opportunities for learning and enhanced the understanding of project managers. The acquired knowledge, understanding, and experience in project management will improve the management of projects in the future, thus providing quality work.