The global market has created a need for companies to explore the international space because technology has made a global village (Aarseth et al., 2014). Consequently, project managers have faced the challenges of leading virtual global projects. Thus, project managers need to use tools and techniques to better deal with the challenges of operating in a virtual world. Project managers must identify challenges that affect their projects and strategies on how they can be achieved easily. This paper analyses the essential management techniques and tools that can address challenges in implementing project schedule activities due to uncertainties.
Fundamental project management techniques and approaches used in managing uncertainty
Uncertainties due to weather, the efficiency of the project equipment, design requirements, and human resource issues make the work of a project manager complex. Poor planning of projects because of uncertainties results in schedule risks because some of the techniques used in planning, like CPM, do not incorporate uncertainty parameters (PMI, 2017). Failure to change duration values because of uncertainty factors results in an inaccurate critical path in the project. According to Atkinson et al. (2006), PERT, BBNs, PNET, NRB, CCS, and MCS are management techniques that can address uncertainty risks.
Project managers can use PERT and MCS to address uncertainty issues by varying the completion duration using distribution functions (Tabassi et al., 2017). These management techniques cannot identify critical activities which arise from uncertainty factors as they ignore the influence of risks on the project activities (Crawford, 2005). PERT and MCS consider the relationship of different types of risks as independent, which fails to focus on the variability in the duration path. Atkinson et al. (2006) have argued that PERT and MCS, when used as project management techniques, may fail to effectively address the issues of uncertainty, particularly to the completion date in complex projects.
The Project Management Institute estimates that about 20% of project management techniques support MCS because of computer-aided software (PMI, 2017). This method is critical in addressing the issues of uncertainty because it can utilize scheduling data to analyze uncertainties related to time and costs in the project (Doloi et al., 2012). Similarly, this method considers uncertainty factors as independent and is limited in addressing correlation issues. Thus, as a strategy, the MCS technique lacks accuracy (Tabassi et al., 2012).
Uncertainty challenges in project management created by globalization can be addressed by implementing the Bayesian Networks method. It is an essential strategy because it provides a basis for analyzing the correlation of uncertainty factors in complex projects (Elonen & Artto, 2003). Project managers benefit from the acyclic graph that offers qualitative and quantitative information to predict uncertainty problems. An acyclic graph shows the relationship of uncertainty factors and predicts the conditional probabilities for the occurrence of the elements (Hartono, 2018). Consequently, a project manager can use the information to plan for uncertainties and succeed in complex project environments influenced by many factors.
Project managers use priority ranking of uncertainties and develop appropriate responses to the challenges within an acceptable period (Nogeste & Walker, 2008). This technique relies on the use of probability in considering the occurrence of the activities and the time allocated and determines their correlation effect. Secondly, project managers can use a non-critical path approach in PERT to analyze the impact of uncertainties on the complete duration of a project (Kuklan et al., 1993). Project managers dealing with projects that are likely to be influenced by uncertainty factors benefit from a multi-objective model to distribute and allocate resources following the Poisson process (Ogunlana, 2010).
Stochastic simulation is another critical method for managers to address uncertainty because it integrates CPM and PERT. This approach creates a single system that combines the impact of delays, providing an opportunity for the project manager to make informed decisions for a suitable organizational culture that will minimize uncertainties (Meng, 2012). Project managers can benefit from this strategy because it combines all the outcomes of PERT and CPM techniques within a project environment faced with complexity. It gives an accurate account of challenges created by skewness from uncertain data and the distribution of project activities. Project managers using the PERT method can effectively address their uncertainty concerns by applying a Monroe method that can estimate the probability of critical project activities (Niazi et al., 2016).
Ways project managers use to implement projects during times of uncertainty successfully.
Project management techniques are complemented by specific tools project managers use to address uncertainty concerns. It is imperative that project managers can adequately organize their workflow and plan for activities. Planning is vital to any project because it defines all the actions required to be undertaken in a project to achieve the desired quality of the project (Muller & Jugdev, 2012). An MS Project is a tool that a project manager can use to plan activities where the project faces many complex issues. The MS Project allows for all activities to be communicated effectively, improves the level of collaboration among the project team, and creates an opportunity for improving productivity (Hwang & Ng, 2013).
Secondly, using probability is an essential strategy that can be used to address the concerns of uncertainty in complex projects. The probability theory provides project managers to use the PERT technique to address uncertainties because of schedule issues that do not incorporate risk factors (Niazi et al., 2016). Thus, using a slack allocation approach to complement the PERT technology will give reliable results in a better duration of activities (Castro et al., 2008). Consequently, a project manager can make a schedule at any point of the project implementation by adjusting to time or cost constraints.
Thirdly, project managers can undertake scheduling and proper time management as an alternative to addressing the complexity of project uncertainty. The cost of a project is an essential factor in project implementation that faces uncertainty influence because of other issues in the environment. Project managers must ensure they implement projects within the allocated cost within a specified time. Most projects face uncertainties because of the resources allocated and completion time because the impact of delays can increase the project’s cost (Maghsoudi et al., 2015). Project managers must schedule their activities so that dates for activities are specified and attract proper cost allocation to achieve the desired objective. nTask is an important management tool that can be used to track time activities and give an appropriate account of the project team to ensure the cost is not exceeded because of uncertainties in the project implementation environment (Tabassi & Bakar, 2009).
Project management challenges faced in different cases around the world
Project managers must implement proper supervisory and administrative approaches in dealing with challenges created by uncertainty during project implementation. Implementing unified scope management is critical in addressing the challenges arising from the complex project environment (Hwang & Ng, 2013). A project manager needs to identify the main challenges that affect a project so that it is possible to implement a strategy to address the problem. According to Khan et al. (2018), human resources are a significant challenge faced by project managers because of the diversity of the project management team. Thus, project managers face challenges in recruiting their project team, cultural effects, team management, and leadership difficulties (Padalkar & Gopinath, 2016).
Members of a project team are sometimes demotivated because of uncertainties leading to lower performance and efficiency in the project. Tabassi et al. (2012) argue that the main challenges facing project managers are the connection of standards and performance, financial incentives, decision-making, information delays, skills shortages, and systematic bias. In a similar study, Sawhney and Paul (2014) have demonstrated that setting the project KPIs for determining suppliers, technical specifications, and rework activities are challenges common in global projects.
The cultural background of project team members is a significant source of inspiration for project performance (Yazici, 2009). Project managers must focus on the culture of team members to ensure that their influence is minimized by applying appropriate motivational and leadership theories. In some instances, project managers face difficulties in employer preference, which requires the creation of a project environment that empowers employees to work in a team and achieve a common objective. Thus, human resource management is a significant challenge for project managers because it affects the returns on investment and performance inefficiencies (Shore, 2008). According to Tabassi et al. (2012), applying technologies provides a critical strategy for addressing human resource challenges by offering alternatives that will optimize the project’s success (Padalkar & Gopinath, 2016).
Projects face uncertainties because they operate in a global environment influenced by many factors that cannot be controlled effectively. PERT, BBN’s, PNET, NRB, CCS, and MCS are management techniques that can address uncertainty risks. To deal with uncertainty, project managers can use workflow planning and scheduling, probability assessment, priority ranking, and stochastic simulation to address the challenges of delays. The project team comprises people from diverse cultures, making it difficult for project managers to manage human resources challenges.
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