Tuesday, 22 April 2014 09:18

Decision Making Models in Project Management

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joshi apr23mainIntroduction

Project Management has emerged as a discipline of high level decision making with the help of analogue and digital tools which would help augment the intuition of a Project Manager and his team for taking decisions in favour of the future of the project.

These decision making tools are general, they are based on common sense and are used in all the trades for backing up the decisions taken by the decision making authorities.

Time, cost and scope are the triple constraints of any project. Any variation in the stipulated value of these three constraints is bound to affect the project’s outcome. So, what a project manager should do in order to keep these three constraints in check? Should he be doing work around after the risks have happened or should he be planning for the risks through these decision making models?

Through decision making models we do not essentially plan for the risks, but we perform a reality check with what should be the step which shall be taken in response to a particular situation. This situation may account for positive or negative risks and for the risks we can deduce a risk response plan accordingly.

The Decision Making Process

The whole purpose of indulging in the decision making process is to make a rational decision. Rational decision making means a tendency that is suitable to the already existing goals within the given conditions and constraints. Project

Management thrives on the rationality of decisions and here is where it is important for the Project manager to have a process which enables him and his team decide rationally about different aspects of the project.

Let us take a look at what really helps to make decisions

Facts
If you want to make a decision, the basic requirement for the same is gathering relevant information. Appropriate use of this information will be helpful in deciding about ways to reach to the goal or an objective.

Values
Decisions are primarily based on situations. An action to a particular situation is determined by values.

Means
It is the way you reach your objective based on already devised values and significances

Ends
These are the intermediate goals which add up to a final objective. Here, you can see that decision making is an iterative process.

In simple words, there are four steps in the process of decision making pertaining to the above points

  • Identify the problem, gather relevant information
  • Look out for the constraints and limitations
  • Find, analyse all the alternatives and select the best of them
  • Implement the same and establish a control and valuation system.

Here are some of the most commonly used decision making models in Project Management

SWOT Analysis

This is a very common decision making model specifically used during feasibility study of the project. SWOT analysis brings unsorted issue to a conclusion when the project is gauges based on Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat.

The steps for SWOT analysis are the same as mentioned above, but there is one caution which needs to be followed which is the emphasis on deep analysis of strength and weaknesses similarly, opportunities and threats.Joshi img1

Maslow’s Pyramid

Maslow’s Pyramid of hierarchical need has been very well spoken and discussed in the HR industry which is an integral part of Project Management. Deduced in 1943, by Abraham Maslow, this decision model speaks volumes about basic human needs and their effect on human behaviour. While working on the projects the most inconsistent variable which a project manager faces is a human resource. Understanding Maslow’s pyramid helps project manager to identify problems related to human resources.

Maslow typically says that there are five levels of human needs and it is through their accomplishment one by one that the human can reach self-actualization.

The pyramid consists of physiological needs, security requirements, social relationships, recognition and self- actualization.

This theory of understood properly can help a project manager a great deal while working with human resources.Joshi img2

Pareto Principle

This is also called as 80-20 rule wherein you prioritize your problems and then find out solutions. In order to understand the concept, this 80-20 rule can be described as an example of problems in organization created by people. We can say that the 80% of the problems are created by 20% of the people in any organization.

Let us say you have a BPO and 5 of the problems in your organization are due to lack of promptness, 3 problems are due to poor linguistic ability and 2 problems are due to poor organization skills. So you can say that major problem here is caused by the lack of training and development because if you impart training to your employees automatically promptness and linguistics will be taken care.

Joshi img3

Monte Carlo Simulation

Now here is a cache, Monte Carlo simulation is a model which essentially focusses on the numerous simulations over random sampling yielding results which are approximate. It just tells us that even models can be random and have very less reality attached to it. This Monte Carlo simulation model is interesting because of the random sampling and use of probability and statistics to determine the result. In project management Monte Carlo simulation method is used for quantitative risk analysis wherein you will be able to identify quantitative impact of a risk on project’s objective.

Decision tree analysis

This decision model is used while performing procurement analysis. The question of whether to build or buy is answered using this decision tree analysis. You can give each of the possibility a chance of yes and no in percentages and calculate the amount invested against the amount received. Based on the profits you can decide whether to build or buy for a particular project.

There are many more decision making models and those can be effectively used in professional as well as personal life. These tools are sometimes regarded highly in the sphere of project management as their capacity of backing up decisions taken by project manager is enormous. A good project manager can understand the need of these effective tools which can be used all through the life cycle of project management.

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Snehal Joshi

Snehal Joshi, PMP is currently working as a PMP Trainer/Corporate Trainer at Reputed Global REPs. Snehal is an avid blogger and is also working independently as a Content Writer specialized in Project Management, Internet and Allied technology. Prior to this, Snehal was working at Cushman & Wakefield Ltd and Gherzi Eastern Ltd

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