SKIL in Project Management
SKIL's ability to influence the outcome of a project depends on its early involvement with the management of the project. For instance, perhaps 80% of the capital cost of a well managed project has been determined by the end of conceptual design stage.
Project Management must also be dynamic: able to analyse the effects of delays or changes, to predict the consequences for the project and to determine the best action to minimise them.
It is upon these premises that we have developed our project management philosophies.
Part of a Gantt Chart
PROJECT PLANNING / TIME CONTROL
Professional and comprehensive planning is essential for efficient project execution, generating the programmes that are used to control the project. The use of modern computers allows powerful networking tools to be brought to bear on the problem.
Precedence networks, breaking the project down to discrete activities and then defining how they inter-relate, are used for planning. Once the network relationships have been defined they are usually fixed for the duration but with the ability to modify time scales and resource requirements.
Generating the project programmes requires the computer to analyse the network both forwards and backwards to determine the overall project duration. Many activities will have possible time periods longer than their durations, the excess being termed 'float'. However the overall project duration will be determined by a particular series of activities: the critical path. SKIL's project management can thus be clearly focused on these critical activities.
Implicit in the duration estimate is a reasonable level of resource applied to each activity. The most likely resource is manpower, whether professional, managerial, skilled or labour, but other resources include equipment, materials and money. The network can also be analysed for resources to develop histograms to help optimise resource demand.
It can be seen from this that the network does permit a predictive approach to project planning. SKIL therefore considers it an essential tool for effective project control.
SKIL's approach to cost control is to operate a phased system, again recognising the need for early management with predictive techniques :
Cost Effective Design Audit
CED Audit is a formalised design discipline that requires the design team to justify their design decisions in economic terms. A group, including the senior designers, the Project Manager and an Owners Representative, will typically meet three times during the early design phase.
Each meeting takes the team closer to the Definitive Budget [or 'Cost Plan'] which therefore reflects the principles established during the auditing process. It can thus be used to control everything from the detailed design phase onwards but for proper control any contingency must be separately identified and not included in the separate line items.
Expenditure is committed at order placement or contract award and cannot be controlled when invoices are received. Commitment control is a predictive technique that compares the proposed commitment with the definitive estimate. Any variation is therefore immediately identified and can be accommodated or contingency can be allocated where necessary.
Although project costs have been fixed earlier it is still essential for payments to be fully authorised. Primary checks are for confirmed receipt of the relevant goods or services so a good paper trail is required.
Secondary checks are also important however and these include contractual details such as insurance and bond validity, back charges and, where appropriate, escalation calculations.