Introduction

This brief report is geared towards presenting a general overview of the several project management techniques to give easy time for all people involved in developing project plans for their organizations. Projects ought to be managed effectively using the appropriate management techniques so that the objectives and goals are achieved. Omega Metals Ltd, the case study for this report is a company involved in making available quality precision metal sheet parts designed for profit-making as well as armed forces clients. The production of these sheet metals involves three intensive processes; steel making, casting and rolling casted metal to produce the sheets. Therefore, main aim of developing project management techniques for Omega Metals Ltd is to improve on the performance and increase profit turnover through the use of the CIM system.

The activities that will be performed in this project (Table 1) will be undertaken by more than one individual and will follow specific steps which must address the following:

a) The number of tasks to be done to complete the project

b) The time that each task will take, the time each task commence and end and the order in which the tasks will be accomplished.

c)  The intermediate deadlines and what should be done about them.

d) The dependencies existing between two or more tasks must be addressed

e)  The individual(s) who will be assigned for each task considering the time, skills and knowledge that the individual posses.

Project Management Techniques

The Gantt chart, PERT diagram and/or CPM charts are the most used techniques to manage projects (Wren, 2003). In these three techniques, the task and time taken for each task are the central points of interest. The tasks have to be performed within the scheduled time to accomplish the organization goals which may include the project itself, presentations, proposals, and reports among other long and short term goals. In our case study, the project starts at 30th November 2010 and ends at 26th February 2011 spanning for 77 working days. The distribution of the tasks and time allocations for the each task will be illustrated through the Gantt chart and PERT/CPM diagram.

 Gantt Chart

In a Gantt chart, each task is allocated its own horizontal band and the calendar duration indicated by either a line or a bar. Generally, Gantt charts are used to schedule tasks and track the progress of a particular project (Russell, 2009). They are developed using bars to represent every task with the length of the bar indicating the duration that will take for the task to be completed. A project manager may choose to group the tasks into broad categories where the time duration for that category spans all the tasks in that category. Tasks are usually listed from top to bottom in the order that they are supposed to be performed and if the tasks are grouped into categories then the tasks are ordered by their dates of accomplishment. The activities for Omega Metal Ltd project are seven with no grouping but overlapped for the tasks that do not directly involve the individuals involved in this project like inspection of electrical supplies. The first task is the investigation of the manufacturing plant to establish what should ne improved, removed or added to improve performance while the last task is training of staff and commissioning the project.

Thus, Gantt is the quickest and simplest technique to undertake project personal planning especially for projects with few numbers of tasks and limited inter-relationship between tasks (Lewis, 2002). As indicated in Gantt chart below (Figure 1), the start of training staff depends entirely on completion of all other tasks thus a delay of all other tasks will consequently delay the training of staff although the Gantt chart do not represent how the tasks will affect each other.

The time span for tasks is represented on the horizontal axis. Most project managers use one day as their time resolution eliminating all days that the project is not expected to be running especially the weekend and holidays. The Gantt chart has been preferred by many organization of its time explicitly and linearity such that the time span for each task is clearly illustrated. Gantt chart has clear relationships between tasks and illustrates tasks that are depending on others and how time overlapping can be effectively done. Furthermore, the deadlines for all tasks are indicated in addition to showing the status of every task at a given time. However, the use of Gantt charts as a technique to manage projects has been criticized because Gantt charts do not present a clear relationship between the task and the persons to undertake the tasks. Individual-hours relations is not indicated with only the calendar time which cant be relied upon to tag individuals to undertake the tasks. Gantt charts also ignore other resources like finance that are crucial to success of any project.

Critical Path Analysis Diagram/PERT Diagram

Critical Path Method (CPM) is a technique similar to the program evaluation and review technique (PERT) which has been used to overcome the short comings of Gantt chart especially the relationship between tasks (Leigh, 2008). CPM diagram uses nodes to establish dependencies between tasks. This establishes the order of tasks which is conventionally from left to right through the movement to the right should not necessarily be linear. The time allocations in a CPM diagram are indicated using numbers as opposed to graphical representation in a Gantt chart. This technique allows the randomness in the choice of allocation times for the tasks. In using this project management technique, the following steps must be adhered to:

a)  The specific activities for the project must be first identified

b) The desired sequence of performing the activities must be determined

c)  Estimation of the time duration for each activity must also be determined

d)  The critical path of the activities is then determined by adding all the durations for all activities in the sequence so that the longest path of the project is established.

 Skills required for the completion of this project

Omega Metal Ltd aims to provide consistently high quality yields to capture customers’ loyalty as well as the industry’s individual rigorous standards as replicated by its International Standards Organization 9001:2000 certification. For this to be achieved, the project manager and must posses the following skills to ensure a successful project management:

a)   Making decisions on the tasks that should done and the durations for the tasks

b)  Priority skills will help in scheduling the tasks such that more important tasks that affect other tasks are done earlier.

c)  Leadership skills will assist in inspiring others to develop aims and objectives for the project and strive to achieve them.

d) Sound communication skills will help in exchange of crucial information related to the progress and status of the project in a timely and effective manner. The manager must also practice listening skills so that he/she can be updated regarding to what other people involved in the project are experiencing.

e) Conflict resolution skills will assist in solving any misunderstanding among the team members. The manager must also maintain good relations with staff involved in the project so that in case of a conflict it will be easier to solve. Additionally, good relations will help the manager in working with all the staff irrespective of their level in the organization.

f)  Team building skills and knowledge will assist the team members in understanding their roles and responsibilities on the project and work collaboratively.

g)  The manager must posses all the skills relating to the management functions of organization, planning, staffing, coordinating, controlling, directing and motivating. This combination of skills ensure that the environment in which the people involved in the project are working is conducive in terms of remuneration, relations and environment which is a source of motivation for the staff.

h) The manager must also be visionary by understanding what should be done, how it should be done and the anticipated results from the project and the measures to take in cases of negative results.

Project communication management

Project communication management is the management of processes required to ensure timely and appropriate generation, collection, distribution, storage, retrieval, and ultimate disposition of project information. Project management has four main components:.

a)  Planning for communication is the first step and it involves establishing who to communicate, how to communicate, what to communicate and to who.

b) Distributing information involves availing valuable and important information to all staff depending on their requirement.

c) Performance Reporting is another component that involves a two way communication mode such that staff can provide heir performance status and management can comment and advice appropriately.

d)  Manage Stakeholders is the other component of management communication and entails providing information to the stakeholders in terms of performance of the business.

The communication modes to be used for Omega Metals Ltd project management will include both written and verbal communication. Performance reports will be presented in both verbal presentation and written reports. Notifications for meetings and conferences will be communicated through emails, memos and notes.

Project analysis

 SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis was carried out to ascertain opportunities and strengths to exploit the use the new CIM system, and also the weaknesses and the threats. The results of the analysis were highlighted below:

Strengths

a)  The company has enough capital to deploy the solution.

b)  The staff possess adequate knowledge and staff to execute the project

c)  A large market share

 Opportunities

a)  Automating the manufacture will increase the company’s productivity by 50%.

b)  Quality of our ornaments will be greatly increased and this will lead to better sales.

c)   The CIM will help cut down the cost on labor by reducing the number of hand employees.

Weakness

a) Most of the workers are from traditional craft based organizations and may not be conversant with the computer technologies

b)  The face might face resistance from employees.

Threats

a)  Our competitors may deploy better solutions.

b)  The implementation time is long and the technology might become obsolete in the next few years

PESTEL Analysis  

Apart from the internal environment it was also necessary to look at the external business organization and the factors affecting the company with references to the implementation of the

CIM thus a PESTEL analysis was carried out;

 Political Factors

a) Current and future changes in the home and international market regulations

b)  Existing licensing and regulatory processes

c)  Government influence on production and trade

d)  Funding, incentives and issue of grants

e) Political instability incase of ethnic wars and conflicts

Economic Factors

a)  The performance of both home and international economy

b)  General and specific tax incentives in both home and international market

c)  Market seasonality

d)  Interests and exchange rates

Social Factors

a)  Population size and distribution

b)  Changes in lifestyles and consumer attitudes and preferences

c) Religion, ethnic and other social factors

Technological Factors

a) Rapid changes in technology

b) Obsolescence of old technology and replacement by newer technology

c) Technology access through licenses, patents and other regulations

 Environmental Factors

a) Locations and sites for the manufacturing plants

b)  Public opinions on the location and sites

c)   The cost of location in terms of surrounding environment

 Legislative factors

a)  European market directives

Conclusion

Although there are many techniques that have been used to manage project, great caution must be taken when allocating time and human resources to the identified tasks so that the deadlines are met as expected. When proper planning is not made, the project is likely to take longer than planned or fail to succeed. Therefore, from the two discussed project management techniques, a CPM diagram will be the best option for Omega Metals Ltd because several staff will be involved in this project and their relation to the tasks and time must be explicit.

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