Can projects always be managed with a Masterplan based not on the actual time of individual tasks?
In other words, the projects always have a Gant where the timing of individual activities is checked, i.e. the timing of individual projects or programmes?
In my last work experience I have been able to see that it is not always possible to have this kind of information.
This is because large projects or program often have to be managed where basic information is lacking for the construction of a classic Gantt or network diagram, and this is partly due to the fact that the activities are so far away in their implementation that the resources allocated to them are not fully known.
Without the resources, it is not timely to build a Gantt that monitors the progress of the times: in this case, how can the projects and program be monitored in terms of actual days spent?
How can Project or Program Manager have useful tools to control the progress of the work and give a completion forecast to the due dates of the project?
In the Anglo-Saxon world, this problem is achieved by using a system based on the economic weight of individual activities or summary activities, i.e. summary activities.
In the real case, I’m running a program of more than 40 projects and with an economic budget of sbillions.
It is a programme that takes a time frame made for almost 40 years where there are families of projects with activities that are known only at the level of planning but that from a work point of view still have to be estimated on time at the level of actual resources and times of operation.
Why is this uncertainty happening about estimating the timing of the activities?
All this stems from the fact that activities that are estimated to be carried out in 20 years have a very high degree of uncertainty in their performance, both in terms of resources and the actual engagement of companies, documentation, legislation, execution plan and so on.
This entails a level of uncertainty in the construction of Gantt very high and in this situation it would be almost impossible to build a tool that I need to monitor and control the production levels at the desired date of monitoring.
It was then thought to build a network diagram starting from the budget of the program.
The S-curve of the program, i.e. the value of the planned contract budget was known and with this it was possible to estimate the weights from the economic point of view of the various activities.
The economic weight of the individual activities was nothing more than the economic estimate that the Project Manager of each individual project had assumed for each individual task and compared it with the value of the entire program budget.
Determined the economic weight of each individual activity and related to a fictitious resource of value reference x , it was possible to enter data for each individual activity of the program in the Microsoft Project and in the end there was a network diagram and a Gantt based only on the economic weights of the individual activities of the program itself.
What did this way of building the Gantt?
What is the final tool that has been obtained and what is used in practical terms for the program?
Such a tool can be used to determine the exact progress of the programme at a given time and reference to the actual production carried out in the chosen period of reference.
That is, I can compare BCWP of the program which is the earned value of the activities carried out with respect to the BCWS which is nothing more than the estimated economic value to be carried out in a given period of time.
These two parameters can produce a SPI for projects and program; so it tells me if the program is in the back or forward or on time with respect to the planned value,, but not the exact progress of the program compared to the actual days consumed by the program itself.
Why is this problem?
This is because the individual activities have not been estimated for their actual progress by allocating the resources needed to be realized, but only by comparing the economic weight of the individual activities with respect to the budget of Program.
Consequently, if you wanted to see the progress of the program regarding the days actually elapsed, you would have an untrue parameter and therefore an untrustworthy and non-reference value for our monitoring and control.
It must be specified, however, that such a strategy for building a Gantt only with the economic weights of activities, which is very applied in the Anglo-Saxon countries, is the only strategy applicable in the case of long-term programmes in which activities are not yet really known in their entirely or have a very high level of inherent uncertainty in them.
For programmes or projects in which the sense of uncertainty is pervaded mainly due to the duration of the programme or the project itself, and in this case we are talking about more than 40 years, a realistic Gantt of the program itself cannot be made having specified all the information necessary for it.
Another way of planning may have been to have planned at a very fine and exact grain level what was being achieved in four-year time windows and leave in future planning what was as far away as time and therefore not known exactly.
What is known as progressive processing and used very often for agile approaches to projects.
This, however, would have led not to produce a document , the network diagram and the Gantt which, ,even with all its inaccuracies and not perfectly corresponding to the intrinsic value of it, is always a document that for the
Client serves to control the progress of the program with respect to the method of earned value i.e. only at the economic level of production.
You should always remember that the PM must always work with the information you possess and from there create tools that can be useful for your work; In other words, to adapt the knowledge that you have of the work for monitoring and control and draw from them the best for the management of projects.