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The potential of management techniques for project work

Table of Contents

List of figures

1 Introduction
1.1 Problem and objective
1.2 Structure of the thesis

2 Definitions of key terms
2.1 project
2.2 project management
2.3 Management Techniques

3 management techniques and their functions in project management
3.1 The phase model of the project process
3.2 Task structuring
3.3 Project schedule and scheduling
3.4 Resource planning

4 conclusion

bibliography

List of figures

Figure 1: Ideal-typical phase model

Figure 2: General work breakdown structure

Figure 3: Example milestone plan

Figure 4: Example of a bar chart

Figure 5: Process node network plan

Figure 6: Standardized structure of a process node

1 Introduction

Nowadays, project work has become an integral part of everyday life in companies in almost all industries. The reasons for the increasing importance of project management in recent years are primarily in the "trends of globalization, digitization, company networks, shorter product life cycles, new forms of work and management as well as the increased competitive pressure and the resulting more complex environment of organizations"1 to find. According to estimates by the GPM Deutsche Gesellschaft für Projektmanagement e. V. in 2013, German employees were involved in projects for around a third of their working time.2 This corresponds to a share of the gross value added in Germany of around 877 billion euros.3 These figures show that the execution of work in the form of projects is of immense importance. Since there is still no end of developments in sight for the above-mentioned trends such as globalization and digitization, project work is also becoming more and more complex. It has to meet enormous requirements in an environment that is changing ever faster, which requires knowledge of professional project management with the corresponding methods, instruments and processes.4

Especially for the success of companies today, it is essential to deal with these components of project management. In this context, the so-called management techniques, which promise an efficient and effective implementation of any project, are of particular importance. These techniques will be dealt with in the following paper.

1.1 Problem and objective

Project management is therefore an essential prerequisite for meeting the demands of our dynamic world. Projects make it possible to work on the current requirements of the market in a concentrated manner, which would not be possible in traditional line organizations.5

In order to be able to establish these projects and the associated project management in companies in a targeted manner, suitable management techniques are required. These are techniques that support the individual phases of the project process and are intended to help optimize them. There are a large number of such techniques that have been developed over the years to support project planning and project implementation with different functions.

The aim of the present work is to present some selected management techniques and their functions and to work out how these projects can be efficiently planned. The management techniques to be examined in this treatise are task structuring, project flow, scheduling and resource planning of projects.

1.2 Structure of the thesis

At the beginning of the work in the second chapter, basic terms are defined that are necessary to understand the topic. Building on this, the third chapter deals with management techniques and their functions. First, an overview of the general course of the project process is given, in order to then present the corresponding techniques for the individual phases of task structuring, the project process, scheduling and resource planning.

Chapter four contains a final summary of the work and a critical reflection of the results obtained.

2 Definitions of key terms

In the following, some fundamental terms related to the topic of project management are to be defined in more detail in order to create a basis for later dealing with management techniques. The terms project, project management and management techniques are explained and what is understood by these terms, since different understandings and delimitations can be found in the literature.

2.1 project

The term project is derived from the Latin word "proiectum" and means "thrown forward, protruding, outstanding"6. A certain future-oriented nature of the project term can be derived from this word meaning.

According to the DIN 69 901 standard, a project is: “... a project that is essentially characterized by the uniqueness of the conditions in their entirety, e.g. B. special, one-off target setting, time, financial, personnel or other limitations, delimitation from other projects, project-specific organization. "7

Kuster defines projects as "a unique, cross-departmental, time-limited, targeted and interdisciplinary project that is so important, critical and urgent that it cannot be processed in the existing line organization, but requires special organizational precautions."8 He puts the main focus on the cross-divisional cooperation of those involved.

In the same way, Schelle supplements the definition of the DIN standard with the feature of the necessity of involving several people or working groups, which makes processes based on division of labor necessary. The American Project Management Institute focuses its definition on the time limitation of projects.9

A distinction can also be made between different project types, which can be divided into small, medium or large projects according to their size, according to the client, the industry or the project content as well as geographical aspects or repeatability.10

Kuster differentiates projects according to the nature of their task in closed and open projects and due to their social complexity into deep and high. This results in the division into acceptance project, pioneer project, standard project and potential project.11

From the scope and diversity of the project term and its definitions in the literature, it can be concluded that these essentially contain the same characteristics of projects, which are strongly based on the above-mentioned DIN standard 69 901. Differences in the individual specialist literary definitions can be found primarily in the weighting of the characteristics and the assigned importance. As a result, not all characteristics can be applied to every project to the same extent.

2.2 project management

As with the concept of the project, one has to establish that there is no uniform definition in project management.

Kuster understands project management as a generic term "for all planning, monitoring, coordinating and controlling measures [understood] that are necessary for the redesign or redesign of systems or processes or problem solving"12

In Dechange's view, project management can also be understood as the totality of all methods, instruments, procedures and competencies that contribute to successfully carrying out projects. He also makes a differentiated subdivision into single and multi-project management.13

According to DIN standard 69901, project management is the entirety of all management tasks, techniques and resources that are necessary to holistically handle projects from initiation to completion.14

The management of projects should help to ensure that planned projects are carried out and led to success, taking into account the specified project goals. To ensure this, various functions should be performed that are identical to functions that are required to run a company, such as planning or controlling. This makes it a corporate management tool.15

In essence, all definitions aim to ensure that the management of projects is used to bring about the optimal solution to a problem by explicitly planning and structuring all sub-steps. The management should provide the appropriate instruments for this purpose. It is more about the way to achieve the goal than the goal itself.

2.3 Management Techniques

In order to lead the existing projects in a company to success, the management must be given numerous tools. These tools are also known as management techniques. In the literature there are different terms such as “techniques”, “methods”, “instruments” or “aids”, all of which are used in the same context, which makes a clear distinction not possible.

In general, techniques serve to operationalize principles and help to achieve the goals better. Techniques can also describe the type of use of instruments.

Methods are procedures that are systematically applied in order to achieve defined goals. Another definition states that methods justify the use of techniques and instruments.16

Any definitions are therefore not free of overlap and therefore merge into one another.

In the following, techniques are to be understood as tools that serve to support management in the project process and to lead it to optimal results.

3 management techniques and their functions in project management

The various management techniques in the individual phases of a project are presented below. First, the phase model of the project process is developed, on the basis of which the techniques of task structuring, project flow, scheduling and resource planning are worked out. As mentioned at the beginning, these are selected techniques, as the description of any existing management techniques would exceed the scope of this work.

3.1 The phase model of the project process

In the literature there are different approaches to structuring projects. A distinction can often be made between classic and agile project management. The agile approach crystallized in product and software development, where the traditional approaches did not lead to the desired success in many projects.17 Reasons for this were found above all "in complex tasks, faster working environments and constant changes"18that the classic approaches did not do justice to. New methods such as Scrum or Kanban opened up a more flexible, faster and process-oriented approach, which makes it possible to make the product available to the customer in a short time. Rigid procedures of the classic methods are replaced by quick reactions to changes in the process, processes and tools are pushed into the background by individuality and interactions, and competitive advantages are primarily generated by the short development phases and sustainable development over an unlimited period of time.19

Nevertheless, the classic approach of this work should be used. Basically, this means that a project is divided into individual phases, which can be separated from one another in terms of content and time. The aim of the whole is to divide the entire processing of the project into clear stages and to be able to work through these successively. In this way, goals and milestones can be set for the individual sub-steps, which enable control during the entire implementation.20 An ideal phase model is shown in Figure 1. This is divided into the phases of commissioning, initialization, concept, implementation and introduction. After each phase, as already mentioned above, a milestone can be set to check the progress or the project can also be canceled if developments do not go as planned.

Not every project has to have all of these phases. How many phases go through and how intensively these are structured in terms of content depends heavily on the scope, the type, the risk taken and the importance of the project.21

Each of these phases consists of different sub-steps, which can now be supported by appropriate management techniques. For this treatise, the focus is on the conception phase, also known as the planning phase.

Figure not included in this excerpt Figure 1: Ideal-typical phase model22

3.2 Task structuring

The tasks defined in advance and coordinated with the project should be brought into an optimal structure with the help of the task structuring. It thus lays the foundation for all subsequent planning steps, which can only be implemented on the basis of the task structuring.23

The work breakdown structure (WBS) serves as a management technique for structuring the tasks of a project. A work breakdown structure includes all tasks that have to be done in a project and breaks the project down into so-called work packages.24

Work packages are the smallest elements in a work breakdown structure that contain a self-contained task and cannot be further subdivided. They can be at any level of outline.25

The general structure of a work breakdown structure can be seen in Figure 2.

Figure not included in this excerpt

Figure 2: General work breakdown structure26

The graphic representation takes place with the help of a box structure, which shows the individual work packages hierarchically.27 The topmost task is usually the overall project, which is then broken down into further tasks at each level. At each sub-level, the tasks become more specific and detailed.

The project structure plan only shows the content-related division of the tasks, the chronological sequence is not yet taken into account here.28

The structure of a structure plan can be carried out according to various structuring principles. One distinguishes the

- "phase-oriented project structure plan,
- object-oriented work breakdown structure,
- function-oriented work breakdown structure,
- mixed-oriented work breakdown structure. "29

In the phase-oriented project structure plan, the tasks of the project are divided into phases, which reflect the logical structure of the process. On the second level, the structure plan corresponds to the project phases (see Appendix 1).30

If a work breakdown structure is object-oriented, the second structure level is classified according to the objects to be processed. First, the structure is broken down into main and sub-components according to the object itself, then the work packages are assigned to the lower levels (see Appendix 2).31

A function-oriented structure plan is very similar to the object-oriented structure plan, except that instead of the objects, there are functions that must be performed in the course of the project (see Appendix 3).32

These structuring principles are presented in practice not only in pure form, but also in combination. The mix can take place on different levels as well as on one level.33

When choosing the type of structure, it is especially important to know the inclinations and preferences of all project participants and to include them in the decision. Attention should also be paid to completeness as well as a clear definition of tasks and assignment of those responsible.34

All principles are suitable to meet these requirements. Depending on the type of project, it must be decided individually which structure is best suited to fulfill the project. In the opinion of the author, particular attention should be paid to the preparatory work for the definition of tasks. If an essential task is forgotten here, it is no longer included in the structuring and can endanger the entire project.

3.3 Project schedule and scheduling

Building on the task structure, the work packages created must now be arranged in a chronological order. This happens in the project scheduling and scheduling. The time factor plays an outstanding role, because adherence to the deadline is decisive for the success of the project.35 Adherence to deadlines has become a strong quality feature in recent years and is probably one of the most important criteria when carrying out projects. The timely termination of a project can make the difference between the success or failure of the introduction of new products, for example, default penalties can result and the company suffers damage to its image. The end date of the project is one of the three parameters in the magic target triangle36 and thus a criterion for the success of the project.37

Various instruments support the scheduling and process planning. Milestone planning, bar charts and network plans are presented below.

Milestone planning is the simplest form of scheduling and is mostly used for smaller projects where the complexity is limited.38

"A milestone is" an event of particular importance "(DIN 69900).It is a clearly defined partial result that must be achieved by a certain date. "39 The start and end dates of a project are two milestones that arise in every project. Figure 3 shows an example of a milestone plan in tabular form. Each milestone is named, numbered and provided with an internal code. According to Dechange, a base, actual and plan value should also be assigned to each milestone. The base value is the date that was set in the original plan. The plan value initially corresponds to the base value, but can also change in the course of the project. The actual value is used for control at the end of the project, which means that the milestone plan can also be used as a controlling instrument.40

Milestones help the planner to divide the project into concrete stages with corresponding intermediate and final goals, to keep an overview and to initiate appropriate measures if the specified date is exceeded. However, the milestones are only formulated very roughly, there is no indication of specific individual activities and the assignment of those responsible.

Figure not included in this excerpt

Figure 3: Example milestone plan41

Likewise, no lead time is given, which in the opinion of the author makes planning the completion dates more difficult or can even cause unrealistic planning.

The next instrument to support the scheduling is the bar chart, also known as the GANTT chart. It is a graphic representation in which the processes are represented by bars. The length of the bars corresponds to the length of the individual activity.42

Figure not included in this excerpt

Figure 4: Example of a bar chart43

Figure 4 shows such a GANTT diagram. There is usually a time line in the horizontal line, and the individual processes are listed in the vertical line.

At a glance you can see when which process starts and ends and how much time is required for it, as well as whether processes have to be processed in parallel or sequentially. Dependencies can be marked accordingly with arrows in order not to overlook them.44 Milestones can also be integrated into the diagram to mark important milestones.45 In Figure 4, the green diamonds correspond to the milestones.

[...]



1 Dechange (2020), p. 3

2 See ibid., S. V

3 See Nebeling (2017)

4 See Dechange (2020), p. 6

5 See Gehr (2018), p. 1

6 Bergmann (2016), p. 232

7 Ibid.

8 Kuster (2019), p. 4

9 See Meyer (2016), p. 2

10 See Dechange (2020), p. 8f.

11 See Kuster (2019), p. 4f.

12 Kuster (2019), p. 12

13 See Dechange (2020), p. 21

14 See Meyer (2016), p. 3

15 See Bergmann (2016), p. 233

16 Cf. Adult Education.at, Methods - Techniques - Instruments

17 See Kuster (2019), p. 18

18 Ibid.

19 See ibid., P. 19

20 See ibid, p. 22

21 See ibid., P. 23

22 Image taken from: Kuster (2019)

23 See Holzbaur (2017), p. 152

24 See ibid.

25 See Meyer (2016), p. 129

26 Image taken from: Holzbaur (2015)

27 See Holzbaur (2015), p. 13

28 See Holzbaur (2017), p. 152

29 Dechange (2020), p. 106

30 See Dechange (2020), p. 106

31 See ibid., P. 107

32 See ibid., P. 108

33 See ibid., P. 109

34 See ibid.

35 See Meyer (2016), p. 171

36 The magic target triangle stands for responsible project management and connects the three components of performance, time and effort. Theoretically, a balance should be established between these so that all three requirements are met at the same time. The triangle is called magical, because in practice it is hardly possible to reach the components at the same time, as they are in a competitive relationship with one another. Setting priorities in project planning is therefore essential. (See ibid, p. 12f)

37 See ibid., P. 173

38 See Dechange (2020), p. 145

39 Holzbaur (2017), p. 156

40 See Dechange (2020), p. 145

41 Image taken from: Dechange (2020)

42 See Holzbaur (2017), p. 156

43 Image taken from: Dechange (2020)

44 See Meyer (2016), p. 179

45 See Dechange (2020), p. 158

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