To understand the project and to identify the tasks that contribute to the risks and delays a critical path analysis will be very useful. Any task involving more than a single operation can be analyzed into sets of component activities. Success or failure of the projects depends upon the ability of the management to schedule the activities. The main considerations that are helpful in network analysis are details on possible operation durations, expense and required sequences. Clarifying liability and enhancing regulation by assessing essential activities, network analysis and critical path method are helpful to identify and eliminate bottlenecks in a project.
Critical Path Analysis
The tabulation of the time needed by different operations for the Scantel project and the calculation of the critical path process are estimated and shown in Appendix 1. It is understood from the table that the most important incidents are numbers 1, 4, 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 34, 35, 36, 46, 47, 48, 40 and 50. The importance of this is that, for the success of the scheme, the completion of these tasks is necessary. If there is a pause in these procedures, the whole project can be postponed. If these event numbers are interpreted from the listing of Scantel events (Appendix 21.3), it indicates that the operations of the critical path are mainly in the processes of
- Making the system components
- Developing the control logic
- All testing activities
- Performing the final tests
Starting systems engineering, maximum device transient checking, full compatibility testing are the tasks that are linked to these activities. As this was the first time such a device was created, these actions can cause pause. It would be very important since the key components of the device, their roles and how they are connected to each other must first be determined by Callister. The next question is to consider if the components can be built in-house or imported and rebuilt after the layout is determined. Therefore, it is possible that the production of both designs and ultimate testing may be a time-lagging case.
Developing the control logic (event 11,12,14,15) is the next category of activities that may slow time. Callister sees it as the most difficult challenge in electronic architecture and digital engineering and has proved to be the toughest to prepare and predict. The production team of the instrument, which was extensively consulted for these tasks by the Scantel team, has relatively limited knowledge of this sort of job. Young software engineer had already been hired in the Instrument production team to handle this job for the Scantel band. But it was challenging to reliably classify the completion times on the basis of his experience.
All monitoring operations involving incidents 34, 36, 47, 48 and 49 are all events that can trigger probable delays in time. Such research practises may contribute to possible delays in time, when all subsystems are organised and evaluated. But in this process, it is safe for the project to be on a strict timeline so it would be useful in the latter stages of the project. In the early stages of the project, the expense or time overlap could potentially be a better design initiative that would decrease the time and resources needed for the whole effort. If the early stages of the project seem costly, it could be necessary for the later stages of the project to will costs. In specific, event 34 could be deferred due to potential delays in lens production, chassis and body development and monitor device development. It is found in the network that the key tasks involved are divided into infrastructure, monitoring and rework phases. It seems like each step is autonomous. But the future hazard of post-system rework and integration testing will be highly reliant on previous technical quantity and consistency. The testing activities may trigger the project to be postponed so all previous engineering works have to pass this stage and rework may be required often. Thus, for the whole project, event 34 is a bottleneck in the movement of activities.
To make sure that event 34 goes smoothly, manufacturing the lens can be made by finding out alternative sources from outside and on the other hand, for the display system, Callister has to find out if there is any alternate from the inside sources. The key concept behind these guidelines is that it is easier to provide more than one source for component sourcing. It is often safer to provide an option to be used just in case, instead of relying on just one source.
The development of the lens may be the other operation that may trigger time delays. Except like other operations, this operation does not affect any traffic since it is not a part of the vital route. The construction of the lens was especially important since the shape was complicated and if the device were to work to its desired requirements, the degree of curvature not greater than 0.0005 on the predicted image would be allowable. Callister depended heavily on the experience of the Leicester Company’s optics group to manufacture the lens with the high tolerance necessary. It was believed that the optical technicians were craft oriented than science oriented. As the trial and error approach was adopted to produce the lens of the required specification it was difficult to estimate the time required. Though this activity is not a part of the critical path, if this activity is delayed then the testing activity (event 34) will be delayed which may cause delay of the subsequent activities. Another potential event of delay will be the design of the display system, because the display system has to be manufactured entirely out of the company and tested and calibrated and the team was not sure about the delivery time.
The strategies to be adopted for the timely completion of this project will be to accelerate the activities which cause time delays. In appendix 21.6 it shows the activities that can be accelerated to overcome time delays. The first activity that can cause time delay is the development of simulation or the entire system. This can be overcome by the consultative process of various engineering teams in the organization. But Callister is of the opinion that more number of people know about the project, more is the danger of leak in information. Hence, it is a very difficult position for Callister and his team.
Strategies for Overcoming Delays
The first major bottleneck in this project as shown in the network diagram is the event no. 5, i.e., complete costing and purchasing tender planning. Because of the security concerns Callister plans to outsource majority of the components are purchased from outside specialist companies. This event can cause time delay because it includes external influences. But this activity can be accelerated by 2 weeks and can be completed in three weeks.
The next step of control logic should be carefully analyzed to formulate a strategy. The weaknesses in this event are that lack of previous experience of the staff. To overcome this weakness Callister can search and find out of there is any expertise available from outside sources. The expertise available outside the company and the cost of development can be compared with the development cost from the Instrument Development division. Also analysis should be carried out whether only one software engineer is sufficient to handle such an important task. Hence, appraisal has to be done about the ideal number of software engineers needed. Also, from the case study it is evident that the control logic system is going to be more of a trial and error method. Hence, the completion times could not be estimated. This approach can be altered by addition of expertise to the team. Total dependence on one software engineer who had only limited experience cannot be counted for successful completion of the event.
To avoid the threat of time delay in the completion of the project, the following strategies can be adopted:
Identification of the HR Skills and Sourcing Expertise
In each stage of development of the project and for each event, the type os skills needed shouldbe estimated. These skills may be from inside the prganisation or from outside sources. It should not matter. The most important thing is how are we going to source the skills. If it is economical and faster to get an expertise from inside the company, it is better to utilize the talent rather thinking about the chances of leakage of information about the new project. The experts from within the company can be carefully scrutinized and selected and made to sign a contract of confidentiality and a breach would lead to serious problems.
If the expertise is to be procured from outside a closer scrutiny of the track record and cpabailites of the supplier should be done to ensure that expertise is useful for the completion of the project without delays. Sourcing from outside can be uncertain sometimes because of the influence of conditions beyond our control. Hence, it would be more advisable to source from inside.
Forming, Norming and Controlling Teams
After the identification of the expertise needed and the analysis of the sources, then proper delegation of authority, responsibility and accountability should be assigned. The teams formed for the development of various subsystems should have the authority and must be responsible for the results and accountable for the delays. Authority without responsibility makes people autocrats and responsibility without authority makes team members toothless and managers without accountability are reckless. Hence, a combination of these three factors is very essential with respect to the formation of effective teams. The success of the Scantel project does not solely depend on Callister but on a group of people who are empowered to make decisions.
For the effective functioning of these teams, it is essential to provide proper support. The teams need a lot of economic, moral and technical support to achieve success. This support can be offered by having regular meetings/ conferences to discuss the problems faced by each team and how the teams can be mutually helpful. It is also very vital that Callister is a person with good leadership and interpersonal skills. The leadership skills of the project leader can be transmitted to other team players so that the achievement of the goal becomes a common target not Callister’s target. The leadership skills can be very useful to provide the necessary support and coordination for the smooth functioning of each team.
Acceleration of Activities
Also there is another option of acceleration of activities. The cost of acceleration and the time that can be saved are provided in Appendix 21.6 of the case study. After a analysis and after the starting of the activities and if the project cannot be made into prototype within the particular period then it is better to think of using the event acceleration technique. But the acceleration effort includes cost. Hence, a correct estimation of the cost and benefit should be analyzed before deciding to accelerate the activities. If we assume that all the important activities are accelerated as given in the appendix 21.6, the cost of acceleration increases by $ 489,520(assumed that 1.6 x $ = 1 £). hence, there will be a 10.87% increase in the project cost. To decide whether this cost is essential the project managers have to weigh the costs of late delivery of prototype. The costs of accelerating the activities and not accelerating should be compared.
It is for the timely execution of the programme, essential that first the human resources are motivated and empowered. Next the availability of other resources like, technology, infrastructure and finance. For a major project like this, the human resource is the first and foremost factor that decides the success or failure of the project. Hence, if Callister is able to form creatively motivated teams the Scantel project could be a landmark in the history of Vixen Instruments Limited for years to come.
Appendix – 1
Estimation of Critical Path Method
|EVENT NO.||(Ti)||(ESi)||(LSi)||(EFi)||(Lfi)||(Si)||CRITICAL PATH||MOST LIKELY COMPLETION
|OPTIMISTIC COMPLETION TIME(a)||PESSIMISTIC COMPLETION TIME(b)|
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