Project Opportunities from Cause-Effect Case Analysis

An opportunity might arise as a result of analyzing the cause-effect of a specific case. For example, a company, for the last two years, is experiencing an exponential increase in the volume of their transactions, due to new business.

As a consequence, it’s having difficulties managing and, most of all, executing all business transactions, especially those ones that are date and time sensitive. This is because its present IT system is being gradually overloaded and is having an impact on performance.

For this case, a very high level presentation of the problem could be:

CASE: A general description of the case.

CAUSE: A decription of how business increase is overloading the present IT system.

EFFECT: A description of how overloading the present system is causing a decrease in performance and causing gradual saturation.

IMPLICATION: A description of the consequences. For example, the company will not be able to mange new or more incoming business due to the effect.

Analyzing the solution:

Analyzing the solution requires serious thinking on the effect and to start discussing what is needed to resolve it ... providing a few options.

Possible outcome after analyzing the problem might be:
(in order to keep up with increasing demands)
  • Upgrade the present IT system to handle the new volume capacity 
  • Migrate to a new IT system with different technology 
The next step is to start analyzing what is required to satisfy the needs. The needs are then translated into requirements and they will serve as the basis for the project plan. This will reduce the effort of determining how best to meet requirements. They may be written as a statement of work (SOW).

Project Network Diagram Analysis

Once the Project Network Diagram has been created, it can be tranformed into a working activity diagram by adding useful information to each activity box.

Each activity box should contain:

- A unique identification number for each activity (no two activities can have the same number on the same project).
- A clear activity description which would aid in identifying the predecessors and successors to the activity.
- Duration estimate (illustrated in the diagram).

On large projects it is a good idea to include the activity WBS and or OBS codes in order to clearly group and identify activity relationships.

If there is enough room in the boxes, then other type of information can be included, but only if it helps in the network building process, such as project cost. However, the more information you include (other than the minimum items listed above), the more variables you need to deal with and the more difficult it becomes to build one.

Once the project network is built , it follows logically to calculate the start and finish dates of each activity based on the following:
- The start date of the project (the start of the first activity).
- The duration of each activity.
- The logical sequencing of the activities as drawn in the network diagram.

The groups of activities that make up the longest path and therefore produce the projects' end date are known in the project management industry as the “Critical Path Activities”. Activities that are not on the critical path will have slack or float.

Project Scheduling using PDM - Project Network Diagram

A Project Network Diagram is a logical or technical representation of all the activities in a project showing their dependency relationships.

 Those logical relationships are also known as:

-Activity Dependencies
-Activity Constraints
-Activity Connectors

In building the project activity network we are in a sense building a paper model of the method or process by which we intend to execute and deliver the project. There are different techniques for creating project activity networks. One method used is known as the precedence diagramming method or (PDM). This method uses a box (square, rectangle or any other shape you prefer) represents each activity with arrows (not lines) connecting these activities and representing the precedence (predecessor and successor) relationships.

Project Scheduling by Gantt Charts

Bar or Gantt charts (Henry Gantt - Bar chart inventor) are a visual technique for listing the project activities within a specified time frame. Each activity is identified with a start and duration. Bar charts will also depict when activities should start and finish. Gantt charts are used to show planning, progress to date and slippage against the baseline type information.This type of scheduling tool is used where more detail is required in the project plan.

Using the WBS for a project, Gantt charts can be summary or detail in nature.