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    activity sequencing, activity duration estimation, schedule development and schedule control

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    Details: Ethics and Vendors

    The CRM implementation of the project has been underway for three months. Ben has been reviewing the invoices from the IT vendor that is providing design and programming services for the CRM implementation. Ben is working with this vendor on a number of different projects, and there are a handful of people that work on multiple projects for him, including the CRM implementation. He just told you that there are some problems with the invoices, and he's not sure what to do about them:

    1. George is working on the CRM implementation and two other smaller projects. His hours look o.k. when Ben first looks at them. However, when Ben adds up George's hours for the past month across all three projects, they total more than 65 hours per week. Ben knows that George is barely on-site more than four hours per day and doesn't feel that George is producing anything close to 65 hours of work.

    2. Two hours per day were billed for Louise for a week when she was on vacation. As far as Ben knows, Louise was not invited to any project conference calls, nor were any critical project emails sent to her during that time.

    3. The rate for Betsy increased by 15% half-way through the second invoice. No explanation was given.

    4. Nothing was billed for Ron his entire first month on the project.

    Provide a memo that you will send to the vendor contact. Be sure to raise your concerns and identify the next steps you want the vendor to take. Accompanying your memo, provide some guidance to Ben on what to do next. Then, respond to one other post as the vendor, addressing the project manager's concerns.

    Objective:

    Describe methods for activity defining, activity sequencing, activity duration estimating, schedule development, and schedule control.
    Develop and apply Gantt Charts, CPM and PERT techniques to project management

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    Solution Preview

    Memo:
    Dated 2nd March 2006.
    From: Ben
    To: IT vendor.
    I would like to draw attention to certain billing inaccuracies that have been observed.
    George has been working on three projects for the past three months. One is the CRM implementation project and two other smaller projects. I have observed him on site for about four hours every day; however, he has been billed at an average of 65 hours a week. This is an exaggeration. Kindly note that such billing is unprincipled and leads to loss of confidence in your company.
    Further I draw your attention to the billing of Louise at two hours for a week. During that week Louise was on vacation and did not come to the site. Moreover, no urgent e-mails had been sent to her nor had she attended to any project conference calls. This charge of two hours for the week is uncalled for and wrong.
    In addition, the charges for Betsy have been increased by 15% halfway through the second invoice. There is no evidence that Betsy's qualifications have improved or her skills updated. This ad hoc increase in charges for Betsy is irrational and unscrupulous.
    Finally, a new employee Ron has joined the project team and is seen everyday on the site. Yet, his name does not appear in the bill. Please explain the anomaly.
    Attached below are some pointers on methods for activity sequencing, activity duration estimation, schedule development and schedule control. These methods will help you to meet deadlines, complete the project in time and control the resources at your disposal.

    Activity Sequencing
    Activity sequencing involves specifying the interdependencies among these tasks and their logical order.
    Activity sequencing: Identifying and documenting the relationships between project activities.
    Activity Sequencing
    Involves reviewing activities and determining dependencies.
    A dependency or relationship relates to the sequencing of project activities or tasks.
    You must determine dependencies in order to use critical path analysis.
    Three Types of Dependencies
    Mandatory dependencies: Inherent in the nature of the work being performed on a project; sometimes referred to as hard logic.
    Discretionary dependencies: Defined by the project team; sometimes referred to as soft logic and should be used with care because they may limit later scheduling options.
    External dependencies: Involve relationships between project and non-project activities.
    Network Diagrams
    Network diagrams are the preferred technique for showing activity sequencing.
    A network diagram is a schematic display of the logical relationships among, or sequencing of, project activities.
    Two main formats are the arrow and precedence diagramming methods.

    Activity duration estimation:

    Activity duration specifies the length of time (hours, days, weeks, months) that it takes to complete an activity. This information is optional in the data entry of an activity. Work flow (predecessor relationships) can be defined before durations are assigned. Activities with zero durations are considered milestones (milestone value of 1 to 94) or hammocks (milestone value of 95 to 99). Estimating the number of work periods that will be needed to complete the activity.
    During the preliminary planning stages for a project, the uncertainty in activity durations is particularly large since the scope and obstacles to the project are still undefined. Activities that are outside of the control of the owner are likely to be more uncertain. For example, the time required to gain regulatory approval for projects may vary tremendously. Other external events such as adverse weather, trench collapses, or labor strikes ...

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