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Resources and Activities Planning

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Project Activities, Resource Planning and Scheduling

Activities Planning

The project planning of activities is aimed at determining the required size, types of work, and time for their implementation to obtain the final results and achieve the project objective. Activity planning covers:

  • Description of the scope of project activities;
  • Structure of activities;
  • Developing a sequence of activities and the relationships between them;
  • Identification of key (and critical) activities;
  • Assessment of the duration of the activities.

The action plan takes account of the problem analysis guidelines and is based on goal analysis. In describing the scope of project activities, the activities to be carried out within the project must be clearly defined and specified. An accurate picture of the project activities is formed, and the appropriate environment is created for the next planned actions - time and cost.

Work breakdown structure (WBC)

A useful tool for activity planning is the work breakdown structure (WBC). The basic concept is to break down a complex activity into smaller tasks - into their smallest and most manageable units. The structure of work packages can be presented as a detailed list of project activities and tasks.

Activities should be geared towards completing tasks in a logical sequence according to their technical feasibility. Each task can consist of one or more activities. Linking activities ensure feasibility. The task description is a description of the status of the project at a certain stage.

Particular attention should be paid to the task of expressing the state, i.e. what the project should achieve, not process or action. The structure of activity packages is a management tool for identifying all work, assigning tasks, tracking activity development, and evaluating it.

In the process of implementing this tool, it is essential to note its role for other management activities - time planning, quantification of accounts, project valuation, project organizational and personnel support, risk management, and information and documentation, and reporting system of the project.

The scheduling of implementation deadlines and the optimization of the project implementation time is related to the preparation of implementation preparation schedules and the optimization of the deadlines.

Based on the scope of activities and the structure of work packages, time planning is carried out. The expected duration of each activity is evaluated, and a project timetable is developed. The schedule defines the start and end dates of each activity defines their logical sequence and the relationship between the activities. This information is used in the planning, financing, and management of resources. 

Schedule 

A schedule is a tool for managing and executing the project. It is used as a basis for assigning responsibilities and for monitoring and controlling project implementation. The schedule is updated on an ongoing basis throughout the project life cycle and reflects its actual progress.

A basic approach to project planning is to develop a scheduling system. There are two types of techniques used for time planning: linear scheduling and network scheduling.

Gantt chart

A line graph (Gantt chart) is a tool for charting and monitoring its implementation. It illustrates the duration and chronological order of tasks that can be submitted weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. It sets the start and end times for each activity on a horizontal timeline. The linear graph is used to illustrate the plan. It shows the status of the project, the expected completion time, the forecast of the duration of the tasks, and their sequence.

The Gantt chart is easy to build and read. It shows the development of the project and facilitates the process of its monitoring. It also serves as a useful tool for communication between project team members. However, this technique does not allow the interdependencies between different tasks to be established, and it is almost impossible to assess how a change in one area affects the rest of the project.

Network Schedule (Bar chart)

The network schedule (bar chart) depicts the relationship between the activities and the sequence of their implementation. This model consists of two elements - activity and event. The activity is the main task in the project, which must be carried out during its implementation. The start and end times of each activity are defined as events. Each activity ends with a specific output. The most important (key) activities are those that determine the entire duration of the project. They must be completed in time to meet deadlines. It is necessary to define a time reserve that will allow flexible time planning and efficient use of resources.

The Network Schedule outlines milestones as a sequence of key events that allow for monitoring and control feedback and form the basis of funding, planning, and resource management. With the development of the project, the model should be updated to take into account the inclusion of new activities, the successful implementation of other changes to the project, new needs.

The network schedule establishes the main tasks of the project at its beginning, beginning and end of each task, time for its completion, each dependence between results, tasks, and events. Unlike the line chart, this model shows the progress in the execution of each task or the whole project and enables much better knowledge of all its parts.

Critical path method and the PERT method

Several basic methods are applied when planning deadlines for implementation and for optimizing project timelines. For example, construction projects use the critical path method to analyze the logical constraints and relationships between different activities. Logical schemes (schedules) are drawn up, showing the dependencies and relationships at the beginning and end of the project. The method can be used to construct a logical task chain before the deadlines are set and before the resources are known. For the preparation and implementation of large projects, for example, preliminary research projects, the PERT method is used to evaluate and monitor the implementation of projects.

Resource planning

Resource planning is a logical consequence of planning activities and timing for their implementation. It is based on an assessment of the resource provision of the defined activities within the specified time.

Cost planning

Cost planning takes place at different stages of the project. The planning may be linked to a preliminary justification for the cost-effectiveness of the project, as well as to the true justification for cost-effectiveness.

Resource and cost planning covers the following basic processes:

  • Identification of all resources needed to carry out the planned activities, incl. Management and support activities;
  • Calculation of the costs of providing the necessary resources - economic evaluation (valuation) of the resources;
  • Classification of expenditures by source of their funding - for example, government financial instruments, state and local budgets, loans provided by banking and financial institutions, or other sponsors.

Resource planning begins with identifying the resources needed to complete the project activities. It is based on information from the description of the scope of activities and the developed structure of work packages that details the components of the project.

The list of activities should be copied to the resource and cost schedule. For each activity, a detailed statement is created as a pledge of its assurance with the means necessary for its implementation. The detailed description of the required resources is subject to refinement and changes in the early stages of the project.

As a result of this process, a specific description of the type and amount of resources provided for each element of the project is drawn up.

Cost estimation

Cost estimation requires the valuation of the resources needed to complete the individual tasks and activities and the calculation of the approximate cost. Cost forecasting and cost estimation should include an analysis of cost alternatives, as due to uncertainty, the inclusion of new activities, or other reasons, schedule changes may occur.

The cost estimate is presented as a quantitative amount of the cost of the individual resources needed to execute the project, such as human resources costs, organization, and management, construction, acquisition of facilities, equipment, intangible assets, etc.

Cost estimates are expressed in monetary units to facilitate cross-project comparisons. It is essential to determine the unit cost values, which must be based either on statutory amounts or real market prices.

When evaluating a project, it is appropriate to follow the rules proposed in the project management standards. The valuation must be following the requirements of the sponsor in terms of how the project is defined - as a whole or on a cost basis.

When determining project costs, account must be taken of the financing conditions of the project established by the financing party for the types of expenditure - acceptable, eligible or ineligible, ineligible. Also, contributors are required to co-finance project implementation costs. Valuation features of many projects are related to the duration of the project and the need to consider inflation.

The cost plan is the basis for forming the project budget

The cost plan is the basis for forming the project budget. Budgeting is one of the important management activities. The budget is drawn up through an estimate of activity and resource costs and is linked to the calendar. It lists the planned values ​​in measurable quantities, indicates the prices of the resources required and the expected returns within a specified time.

Once the budget is developed, it serves as the main financial instrument for the project. As the project progresses, information on actual costs is accumulated and compared to the budget, which forms the basis for cost control.

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Author: BVOP™ Published on: Wednesday Dec 4, 2019
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