Microsoft Project is a project management system, which assist the project managers to execute and control the project activities effectively in order to meet the sponsors needs and expectations from a project.
Project management involves the planning, scheduling and controlling of the activities in a project
Planning – Defining the objectives of the project and listing the tasks.
Scheduling – Arranging the tasks in the order in which they are to be performed and allocating the resources.
Controlling – Calculating the optimum, durations of each activity and quantity of resources to bring out the successful completion of the project.
Network planning technique can be used for project management. In this technique large projects are broken down to individual jobs or events and arranged in logical network. Network planning helps in planning, scheduling and controlling, in order to complete the project economically in minimum available time with limited available resources.
The important terms related to project planning are:
An event is a specific instant of time, which makes the start or end of an activity. Event consumes neither time nor resources.
An activity is the actual performance of the task and requires time and resources for its completion. It is the work required to complete a specific task.
The activity proceeding to any given activity is called the predecessor activity.
The activity succeeding to any given activity is called the successor activity.
Duration is the estimated or actual time required to complete a task or an activity.
Earliest start time (EST)
It is defined as the earliest possible time at which an activity can start. It is calculated by moving from first to last event in a network diagram.
Earliest finish time (EFT)
It is the earliest possible time at which an activity can finish.
EFT = EST + duration of that activity.
Latest finish time (LFT)
It is calculated by moving from last event to the first event of the network diagram.
Latest start time
It is the latest possible time by which an activity can start.
LST = LFT – duration of that activity.
Float or Slack
Stack is with reference to an event and float is with reference to an activity. Float is the difference between time available for completing an activity and the time necessary to complete an activity.
It is the time span by which the starting and finishing an activity can be delayed without delaying the completion of the project. It is the additional time, which a non critical activity can consume without increasing the project duration.
It is the sequence of critical activities, which decide the total project duration. A critical path consumes maximum resources. It is the longest path and consumes maximum time. It is the one, which connects the events having zero minimum float.
PERT (Project Evaluation and Review Technique)
It is a probabilistic model with uncertainty in activity duration. It is an event oriented approach used for planning, controlling and reviewing the project. The expected time for each activity can be calculated using three time estimates-
Optimistic time (to)
Most likely time (tm)
Pessimistic time (tp)
It is used to find the applications in projects where resources(3m – en, materials and money) are always made available as and when required.
CPM (Critical Path Method)
CPM is a deterministic model with well known activity time based upon past experience. It assumes that , the expected time is actually the time taken. It is an activity oriented system and marks the critical activities. CPM is employed to those projects where minimum overall cost is important and there is better utilization of resources.
It is defined as an adjustment to the network diagram, which becomes necessary owing to departure from the project schedule laid down earlier. It is the process of incorporating the changes in the network, which have occurred due to planning and rescheduling.
A resource is a physical variable such as labour, finance, equipment and space, which will impose limitation on time for the project.
This implies scheduling the activities within the limit of their total float, such that fluctuations in the resource requirements are minimized. In resource smoothing the main constraint is the project duration time. But the activities having floats are shifted so that a uniform demand on the resources is achieved.
In resource leveling, the main constraint would be the resources and if the maximum demand on any resource is not exceed a certain limit, the activities will then have to be rescheduled so that the total demand on the resource at any time will be within the limit. The project duration time consequently is exceeded.