To be completed successfully, a project needs to be planned and managed, costs determined and times allocated, problems dealt with and, eventually, concluded. Formal methods of managing a project offer clear guidelines and deadlines. The key elements of project management include: •defining the project carefully, including the setting of clear objectives •dividing the project up into manageable tasks and activities •controlling the project at every stage to check that time limits are being kept to •giving each team member a clear role
•providing controls over quality issues and risks.
Failure to manage projects successfully can have serious consequences for any organisation. In the ‘Setting the scene’ case study above, any failure to complete the building of the bridge on time and within budget could result in: •penalty payments having to be paid to the customers
•bad publicity in the construction industry
•loss of future contracts.
Operational resources are expensive and the most expensive resource is that which is unused or underused – unused stocks take up space and working capital; machinery left idle wastes capital and can require protective maintenance; labour waiting for supplies to arrive will add unnecessarily to the wages bill. Efficient firms will always aim to use their resources as intensively as possible and avoid wasted time and idle assets. Keeping assets busy is not always as easy as it sounds, especially when the project is a complex one. Consider the construction of a house: •The builder only wants to employ specialist staff on a subcontract basis when the job is ready for their particular skills •He also wants to order bricks and other materials to arrive just as they are needed, not weeks before, blocking up the site, wasting working capital and inviting theft. •He certainly does not want them three days after the bricklayers require them. •Specialist equipment is often hired and to keep this a...