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Effective planning and execution

The lion’s share of project resources – in terms of time, budget and effort – is expended on project execution and control.

Given the nature of projects, the phase of managing and controlling all planned project activities requires excellent motivation and leadership while also managing a range of project aspects, such as:

  • Schedule
  • Communication and information distribution
  • Meetings
  • Progress reporting
  • Financial control
  • Quality
  • Scope
  • Change control
  • Risks

In addition, project execution and control requires allocating and managing project resources, and letting and managing contracts to purchase equipment and services.

Our approach allows us to identify variances from the baseline plan. We then review and analyse the options before taking corrective action. This is repeated throughout the execution and control phase

Other tools to keep projects under control include Critical Chain Modeling

Managing ‘scope creep’
‘Scope creep’ is a well-known project enemy. Caravel® understands the importance of judiciously defining and managing scope. Our specialists therefore allow just the right amount of flexibility without sacrificing control. This is essential to maintain focus, particularly for software development projects.

During the project initiation phase Caravel® formulates a scope description which needs to be expanded with progressive detailing during the planning phase.

The scope document comprises a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and also ideally a product definition. The WBS is a hierarchically organised document in which the bottom levels describe the individual tasks that comprise activities yielding measurable results, which in turn comprise a work package culminating in a milestone.

Good scope planning reduces uncertainty and consequently risk. It forces the management team and the project manager to think ahead, confront issues in advance and resolve conflicts and uncertainties prior to the design process.

Realistic scheduling and resourcing
Establishing a realistic schedule based on the estimated duration of each task is a vital aspect of the process because it helps to:

  • Schedule and assign resources in an optimal manner
  • Meet a specified end date dictated by external factors
  • Set a baseline which can be used to measure and control progress

Throughout the scheduling exercise, Caravel® carefully considers factors that drive the schedule and the project’s end date. Importantly, the process also introduces meaningful milestones which ensure that the measurement of progress is both valid and easily communicated.

Ultimately, however, project resource planning ensures that the needs of both the project and its stakeholders are met with minimum impact on other programmes of work.

Controlling costs
The importance of budgeting is well recognised. In project terms, this requires estimates for all activities so that costs can be controlled during the execution phase of the project.

Caravel maintains two cost estimates: the approved baseline budget with separate contingencies and the regularly updated best forecast. Project reporting usually includes S-curve, bar graph and tabular financial reports where forecasts and actuals can be compared with a baseline.

The Earned Value technique places a value on the delivered work against time, and compares it with the baseline project plan. Two S-curves depict the expected time and cost positions within which a project is likely to be completed. When the Earned Value analysis is plotted onto the graphs, it shows whether a project that appears to be on track, is actually headed for ‘breakout’.

Project leadership is vital

Project controls differentiate a successful project team from one that delivers late, over budget and not to specification. Caravel® boasts a success rate of above 80% compared to the industry average of 30%. Our people are attuned to managing and controlling all aspects of a project and are committed to optimising stakeholder value

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