Practices in Ghana for Managing Time on Complex Projects

Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation, 2022

98 Pages


Table of Contents


List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Abbreviations

List of Appendices


Chapter 1 Overview
Problem Statement
Purpose of Research
Significance of Study
Research Design
Research Questions
Assumptions and Limitations
Operational Definition

Chapter 2 Literature Review
Project Management
Project Life Cycle
Project Management Tools
Project Complexity
Definition of Project Complexity
Complexity Theory and Project management
Types of Project Complexity
Project Scheduling
Project Scheduling Risk
Project Risk Management

Chapter 3 Methodology
Research Design
Participants Selection Criteria and Justification
Participants Identification Question
Analysis of Expert Identification information
Sample Selected and technique
Round One
Round Two
Round Three
Data Sources and Number of Participants
Legal Issues

Chapter 4 Analysis and Presentation of Results
Part A Challenges of Scheduling Complex Projects
Part B Practices Used in Project Scheduling
Part C Relationship between Complexity and Project Delivery Time
Summary of Findings

Chapter 5 Conclusions and Recommendations





List of Figures

Figure 1. Types of Project

Figure 2. Importance of Municipal Projects

Figure 3. Primary Driver of Municipal Projects

Figure 4. Factors affecting Municipal projects

Figure 5. Importance of Team Commitment

Figure 6. Cost and Time overruns in Projects

Figure 7. Main Factor Fostering Team commitment

Figure 8. Main decision affected by Power

Figure 9. Proportion of Project experiencing Cost and Time overruns

Figure 10. Schedule planning and Management techniques

Figure 11. Designing the Schedule

Figure 12. Gantt Chart for Complex Project

Figure 13. Clarity of Goals and Objectives in Complex Projects

Figure 14 Main Technique and Practices for Managing Complex Projects

List of Tables

Table 1. Delay Experienced in Municipal Projects

Table 2. Responses on the Main Delivery System for Complex Projects

Table 3. Most obvious Factor Characterizing Complex projects

List of Abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

List of Appendices

Appendix A Round One Questionnaire

Appendix B Round Two Questionnaire

Appendix C Round Three Questionnaire


I dedicate this work to my wife Vivian Nkatia, children; Pavel, Ryan and Adrian Nkatia whose love and encouragement has propelled me strongly towards this end. I also reserve special appreciation to my supervisor Prof Thomas Grisham, who have been very instrumental in providing direction towards the end of this project. I also dedicate the project to my many friends, work and church family whose constant encouragement and appreciation of my efforts have propelled me this far.

Chapter 1: Overview

Project management is concerned with applying effective management practices and strategies to ensure effective execution of the projects within each of the life cycle process. Accordingly, the project life cycle encompasses the activities of initiation, planning, execution and closure, which have been recognized by Kerzner (2003) to comprise of a series of activities and task that have been assigned specific objectives to be completed within a definite or specific time.

Simple projects can be defined as projects exhibiting similarity with previous projects and utilizing standardized practices in the process of designing and funding the project (Rapaport and Ireland, 2012). On the other hand, complex projects exhibit high level of uncertainty and dynamic interaction between the various component parts.

The success and sustainability of projects are highly dependent on the effective management of time, budget and quality (Westerveld, 2003), and this becomes significantly tedious in the case of complex projects. Thus, project scheduling provides an opportunity for project managers to assign specific time to the activities, in order to match the resources throughout the project life cycle.

In line with the above, chapter one of the study provides a broader understanding of the study, the problem statement, the purpose and significance of the study, research questions, assumptions and limitation, as well as operational definitions and summary. Problem Statement

Ghana as a developing nation faces significant challenges in terms of its ability to deliver projects within the scheduled time. Whilst in simple projects, managing time may not be so daunting; large construction projects tend to exhibit significant structural complexities (Remington and Pollack, 2007) which could easily cause the time schedule to change. For instance, when Boeing embarked on a project to outsource as a way of minimizing costs and reduce the cost of development of its product from six years to four years, the project delayed three years behind its schedule and became over budgeted (, 2014) In reviewing successful projects in Ghana, Frimpong (2000) indicated that, one of the major criteria for judging the success of projects is based on the ability to maintain its schedule even in the midst of complexity dynamics. In a study conducted by Frimpong (2000) on complex projects in Ghana, it was found out that 75% of the projects exceeded the original schedule time with only 25% completed within the projected time. In line with this, it becomes critically important to have a thorough analysis of complex project scheduling in order to minimize the delay in projects (Frimpong, 2000).

In respect of this, empirical studies have observed that, project complexity affects the duration, cost and quality of the project (Gildado, 1996). Thus, the complexity of construction projects have been identified as one having complex communication process and power amongst the actors, ambiguity relating to the performance of the project success or failure and the consequence associated with time flux which creates unpredictability and a paradox of control (Cicmil and Marshall, 2005).These projects exhibit significant information flow volumes, significant system integration and the complex nature of the infrastructure required, which therefore tends to influence the output-input relationship in the project life cycle.

Within the project planning phase, there may be significant challenges associated with defining the scope and deliverables of the project, the selection of the management team and techniques required, and the estimation of the efforts and project resources required (Kerzner, 2013). Moreover, monitoring the project, communicating deliverables during the life-cycle and the corrective measures put in place could all be affected by the degree of uncertainty, ambiguity and complexity associated with the project (Kerzner, 2003). These challenges within the project and its life cycle indicates that, any change in one variable tends to affect the other variables, thereby requiring significant knowledge and analytical tools and techniques in scheduling time for the successful completion of the project.

Thus, scheduling serves as an important document to ensure that all activities of the project are recorded and analyzed El-Mashaleh, Minchin, and O'Brien (2007), the extent of complexity associated with the project life cycle poses major question to the ability of traditional scheduling modules like the Pert Chart and the Critical Path analysis to effectively manage complex projects. Whilst scheduling is focused on matching the resources in the project with the project task over time El-Mashaleh et al. (2007). Palaneeswaran and Kumaraswamy (2000) indicated that, when projects are under compressed schedule and urgency, adequate supply of resources are required, which will create very sophisticated coordination and increase the level of difficulty associated with managing the project.

Thus, shortening the project completion time by reducing the time required within each process of the life-cycle could create overlaps in designs which may force project contractors to constantly change and increase the complexity (Pheng & Chuan, 2006). Moreover, as the size of the project increases, coordination and resource constraints could lead to a delay which may create complex rescheduling and increase the cost and risk associated with the project. Unfortunately, most projects in Ghana have experienced significant delays. Even with the advent of innovative time scheduling techniques in managing projects in Ghana such as Critical Path analysis and Gantt Charts, Frimpong (2000) have highlighted that, the unrealistic expectation of project contractors in the country have led to situations of gambling, and commitments that may not be realistic enough. These have therefore led to significant delays in projects leading to significant cost and legal liabilities which have further created problems for managers. Considering the extent to which complexities affects project management in general and the high stakes associated thereof, pressure is often placed on projects which has the potential of causing projects to deviate from their schedules (Cicmil, Cooke-Davis, Crawford, & Richardson, 2009).

Thus, this research seek to explore the implication of complexity dynamics on project schedule, and the strategies used in incorporating complexity theory into schedule design and management techniques in Ghana.

Purpose of Research

The purpose of the study would be based on understanding what constitutes project complexity. Also, identifying project schedule techniques also plays a major role in identifying which technique is appropriate in dealing with issues of complexity in project environment. Also, the study would play a critical role in identifying the extent to which complexity forces affects the project delivery time. This identification should therefore provide opportunity to review and better plan for complexity in project delivery. Significance of the Study

Understanding complexity in project timing and schedule is important to provide opportunity for practitioners to realize how important it is to identify the factors that create complexity in projects, in order to effectively design schedule for projects. Whilst a number of traditional models have been designed as a basis to effectively managing timing in the midst of project complexity, the emergent nature and interrelationship between the various components of the life cycle makes it difficult to easily project the completion date of project, justifying the significance of the research.

The specific reasons associated with this are that, projects are complicated as all the parts of the project needs to be integrated, challenges are also associated with the political dynamics of people and project teams, project programs entails multiple deliverables which tends to change the project goals and lastly associated and influenced by the changes in the environment. For the growing number of project managers in Ghana, understanding the extent of complexity associated with project management and scheduling should therefore help in addressing and improving project scheduling in the project life cycle. Moreover, the knowledge derived should provide the required technical skills, people's skills and other resources necessary for managing projects effectively in Ghana considering the amount of wastage in resources and delays in projects (Frimpong, 2000). Also, public projects would go a long way to identify optimal tools capable of dealing with complexity which affects time scheduling in most projects in Ghana From this, the knowledge gained would go a long way to improve Ghanaian municipal authority project delivery time, enhance on time scheduling in both private and public project delivery time .

Research Design

The study utilized both a positivist and social constructionist perspective that utilized the Modified Delphi technique. Accordingly, the epistemological motive underlying the Modified Delphi method chosen under the research favors both the positivist and social constructionist perspective. In accordance with the positivist design, the researcher is seen as an objective and uninvolved observer (Creswell , 2007). Three rounds of questions would be asked of the participants. There would be initial pre­selection criteria which would seek to identify the level of expertise of the participants in relation to the research problem under consideration. After the selection of the panel, the three rounds of questions, comprised of qualitative and quantitative questions, were asked sequentially.

Research Questions

The research sought to answer the following questions.

Question 1: What are the challenges of scheduling complex projects?

Question 2: What are the practices used in scheduling complex projects?

Question 3: What is the relationship between complexity and project delivery time? Assumptions

Based on the complexity theory, projects scheduling demonstrates dynamic complexity. Project schedules are used by managers to identify and determine the realistic start and finish dates necessary to ensure project is finished on time. Developing a greater understanding about the constraints and various assumptions underlying the project management stages would have a significant impact on project time and budget. The case organization selected for study manages is more than one project or program under its portfolio.

An assumption made was that there would be a significant number of project managers that have an in-depth understanding about project design and schedule. Also assumed was that, the participants selected would act in independent and honest manner in the information they provide, without undue collusion.


Participants selected for the study could collude outside of the study, especially when they were from the same department. To minimize this problem, personal contact between the respective participants was not permitted and their identity was not disclosed with other participants.

In addition, some terms may have a different interpretation, which could influence the ability of the respondents to give a fair assessment of the problems. Based on this, the terms used in the study focused on the technical jargons used within the field of project management.

Operational Definitions

Complexity: Project complexity affects the duration, cost and quality of the project (Gildado, 1996). Complexity in project may have several dimensions such as Technical complexity which looks at the extent of project team members with technical aspects of the project or the number of technical interface of the project.

Project: Project is defined as "A temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result" (Project Management Institute, 2008, p. 442).

Scheduling: Scheduling serves as an important document to ensure that all activities of the project are recorded and analyzed. It provides a roadmap with respect to the how and when the outcome of the project would be achieved (Project Management Institute, 2008).


The success and failure of projects depends to a large extent on project schedules and how efficient and committed management are to the schedules designed. For projects to be on track, it is critically important that realistic time frames, resources and errors are decreased considerably. However the complexity associated with managing projects has meant that, project managers develop effective tools to manage the schedule on time in order to prevent errors and delays in project. Towards this end, the study sought to identify the challenges associated with managing complex projects, the practices employed by project managers in project scheduling and the relationship between complexity of projects and project delivery time. To achieve this, the study employed both positivist and social constructionist perspective in the research design, with emphasis on the Modified Delphi method.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

The literature review provides a detailed account of existing literature which details the subject of investigation. Chapter 2 is organized into and introductory section that specifies the various headings in this section. The chapter is further organized under several headings, which include an overview of project management, project life-cycle, project management tools, project complexity, definition of project complexity, complexity theory and project management, types of project complexity, project scheduling, Project scheduling risk, phases of project scheduling, techniques of project scheduling, and project risk management.

Project Management

Project management can be defined as the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to managing projects in order to meet and exceed the expectation of the stakeholders (Project Management Institute, 1994). Although project managers achieve their objective through the process of initiation, planning, executing, controlling, and closing projects, Gareis, Huemann, and Martinuzzi (2013) see project management as management by projects. Accordingly, Gareis et al. (2013) identified project management as an organizations strategy capable of applying temporal organizations to manage complex processes. In looking at the process based approach to defining projects, Kerzner (2003) saw project management as the process of planning, organizing, directing and controlling of company's resources towards the attainment of long term organizational goals. The Project Management Institute (2008) defined a project as a unit that seeks to focus on designing a set of interrelated activities to bring about a unique product or results.

According to Söderlund (2004), project management is seen to be the tool or method or technique to solve complex organizational problems. Cook (2004) discovered that, using project management practices increases the performance and financial returns to project managers. In line with this, the conclusion that can be made is that a project entails a set of interrelated activities that generates a set of outcomes. Thus, the effective management of these activities, which requires efficient human capital capability, is critical to the success and sustainability of the project.

Project Life Cycle

Definitions have been propounded by various researchers to address the term project life cycle. Prince (2002) maintained that project life cycle can be defined as “a sequence of phases through which a project must pass.'' The number of phases in a project life cycle depends on a variety of factors like nature of industry, type of output, size of project. Archibald and Voropaev (2003) advocated there is general agreement that the four broad, generic project phases are concept, definition, execution, and closeout.

In the framework of Kerzner (2003), the sequence of project management phases have been identified as the conceptual, planning, testing, implementation and closure stage of the project phase. According to Kulkarni, Pierse, Rushton,and Grigg (2004), projects, especially the ones having a longer lifecycle, could be categorized into many phases depending on the functions as procurement phase, execution phase, and operation and handover phase. In sum, the life cycle can be defined as a cycle of activities designed to meet the objective of the project which may be identified as project start, project organizational and preparation, project execution and closure of the project (Bredillet, 2004).

Project Management Tools

Good project management deals with three factors: time, cost, and performance. Projects are successful if they are completed on time, within budget, and to performance requirements. In order to bring the many components of a large project into control there is a large toolkit of techniques, methodologies, and tools. These techniques provide the tools for managing different components involved in a project: planning and scheduling, developing a product, managing financial and capital resources, and monitoring progress. However, the success of a project rests on the abilities of a project manager and the team members, and the requirements needed to ensure the success of the project are significantly difficult, requiring different tools towards achievement (Kerzner 2013). Project management tools are identified as the Work Breakdown Structure, Gantt Chart, PERT, and Critical Path Method (Project Management Institute, 2004).

Project Complexity

The extent of complexity associated with the current business environment has made projects significantly complex to be able to accurately predict the outcome with certainty. Accordingly, Frame (2003) intimated that, projects have always remained complex and will continue to remain complex because, traditional project management techniques based on the linearity assumptions have failed to address the deficiencies that project management experience. Realizing the need to understand project complexity, it becomes critically important to understand the complex nature of the social processes within which project setting exist which therefore creates tensions as a result of key issues such as unpredictability, interrelationships amongst various component parts of the project and difficulty to keep predictable control over projects (Cicmil et al., 2009). With respect to this, it becomes critically important to use complexity theory to gain a better understanding of projects scheduling (Geraldi & Adlbrecht, 2007). One major justification for the use of complexity theory to understand project complexity stems from the idea that there is a lot of interconnectivity amongst the various project management processes, as well as systems and the people involved. Therefore, technical expertise of the human resources could be fraught with emotions within the system, which could create various errors. Secondly, there are limitations to the ability of project managers to effectively design projects guaranteed on expected outcome, as a result of the degree of uncertainty presented within the project management phases.

Definition of Project Complexity

Whilst complexity of projects have gained significant attention by project managers worldwide, there is no clear definition of it as the concept moves beyond the definition of big projects (Williams, 2002). In support of this assertion, Dombkins, (2008) indicated that, the concept is disputable as no clear definition can be given. The definition of complexity in projects is embedded in the reality within which human existence takes place which can be described as unpredictable, and non-linear in nature (Cicmil et al., 2009). Whilst this is the case, Geraldi and Adlbrecht (2007) intimated that, to define project complexity depends on the varying lenses and perspective from which individuals constructs and co-construct the meaning of the term (Baccarini, 1996). The implication of this is that defining project complexity may be seen from various angles depending on the particular lens through which the observer is looking. In line with this, understanding the problem associated with project schedule design and complexity might be explained in different ways, thereby making it significantly critical for the researcher to develop the critical lens to bring about objectivity in a study.

Complex projects exhibit non-linearity, evolutionary in nature, unpredictable in the interaction process, and therefore the application of complexity theory to the definition is therefore justified (Cicmil et al., 2009). In line with this, project complexities have been defined by Baccarini (1996) in terms of technological complexity and organizational complexity. In Baccarini's explanation, organizational complexity is defined in terms of the personal and the operational interaction that exist amongst the various elements of the project organization. Technological complexity on the other hand refers to the interaction amongst the various tasks and the difficulty of task to be performed (Baccarini, 1996). To further highlight the issue, Jones and Deckro, (1993) defined technological complexity in terms of the unpredictability and instability associated with the assumptions made on the various tasks. The definition given in this case highlights the uncertainty associated with project management.

Assessing the complexity of projects, Williams (2002) indicated the need to include Tight-time constraints as one of the features of it. Accordingly, when the project is going off track the tight schedule, any intervention aimed to increase the pace of the project could further worsen the situation (Shenhar & Dvir, 2004). In sum, project management may no longer be seen as orderly in nature in terms of its project management stages with pre-defined goals, but should reflect an on-going process of interaction where meanings and patterns emerges in the process to influence the outcome of the project. Thus, as the project moves on, the scope of the project would change in tandem with the internal and external environmental dynamics. Thus, the scope originally defined would not be perfect. Therefore, the less the scope is known, the more extensive any impending changes would be (Grisham, 2009).

In conclusion, the definition of project complexity for this research is the behavior of project is derived from a set of systematic interrelationship of factors that influences the project rather than a single factor (Cooper et al., 2001). In line with this, project complexity for this research was defined in terms of a complex adaptive system which is characterized by adaptability, non-linearity, unpredictability and interconnectedness amongst the various component and parts (Remington & Pollack, 2007) as well as the time based constraint. Thus, within the context of project complexity, the research would seek to identify the scope of complexity, the impact of complexities on project scope, schedule management techniques designed to incorporate complexities into project schedule design.

Complexity Theory and Project Management

Traditional project management is the process of deliberately planning and controlling the methods by which an organization manages and executes projects. Unfortunately, the major assumption underlying traditional systematic project is the aspect of predictability and thorough knowledge about the tools of engagement in the project. Thus, the traditional model of project management assumes that project outcome can be predicted and delivered at the start of the project (Williams, 1999). Traditional project management scheduling processes have often relied on adherence to a strict and rigid processes geared towards managing the projects. This approach to managing projects are appropriate where objectives are clear, environment significantly stable and predictable (Dombkins, 2008). Unfortunately, the high number of project failures demonstrates that designs based on the static or control system thinking, as influenced by the traditional systems thinking model, is not capable of addressing the significant needs and dynamism of the 21st century business environment (Remington & Crawford, 2004).

Researchers and project management experts have recognized the need for traditional project management techniques to shift its perspective towards integrating the challenges of contemporary environmental forces to bridge the gap between theoretical project management best practices and reality and to identify alternative paradigms that is able to accommodate these challenges (Cicmil et al., 2009). However, the concept of complexity in projects recognizes the dynamism, uncertainty by making a paradigm shift towards creating flexibility and pro-activeness in managing projects. Unfortunately, project managers are confronted with the task of having to deliver quality outcomes within chaotic and highly uncertain environments.

Williams (2002), on the other hand, indicated that all projects require interconnectedness, emergence, control, and hierarchical behavior, typical of adaptive system concept. Thus, the management process must be approached from the systems, structural perspective to give a broader understanding into the problem. This indicates that whilst designing project schedule, it is critically important to understand the project system and the structure of the project and build the extent of complexity into the design. Whilst several techniques have been designed with respect to this, these techniques may not solve schedule design complexities entirely.

Types of Project Complexity

Understanding the concept of complexity is critical to the success of projects, considering the extent of complexity that projects go through. Accordingly, the life cycle of projects as well as the schedule, resources, and budgets are all influenced by the type of complexity associated with the projects. In accordance with this, the literature by Turner and Cochrane (1993); and Williamson (2002) identified complexity as structural and technical.

Structural complexity is concerned with the difficulty associated with managing and keeping track of the interconnected tasks and activities associated with the complex projects being managed. Essentially, this type of complexity is associated with projects that are complex in scope such as construction and defense projects. The challenge comes from the extent to which project organization schedules and the extent of interdependencies become a challenge to project management. Thus, structural complexity would therefore affect the ability of project managers to be able to follow a strict schedule procedure. However, structural issues related to WBS, risk, quality, procurement, and communications are excluded from this research, with sole emphasis is given to time.

Technical complexity is associated with the extent of complexity associated with the techniques of managing the various task with the projects. The complexity that emanates in this processes associated with the interconnectedness between the various task and structure of the task. Unfortunately, project managers are confronted with the task of having to deliver quality outcomes within a chaotic and highly uncertain environment. In explaining the concept further, Williams (2002) indicated that all projects demonstrate interconnectedness, emergence, control and hierarchical behaviour typical of an adaptive system concept. New technologies may be very disruptive which tend to present new dimensions of complexity in the project design and configuration In general, technical complexity may be defined in terms of the difficulty and challenges involved in finding facts, technical information and systematic analysis of the various options in the project design.

Project Scheduling

The ability of project managers to deliver project on time is dependent on the way and manner in which managers are able to identify the structural and Technical complexities associated with the project. Project scheduling is one of the major requirement involved in the project planning process, and may be seen as providing a roadmap with respect to the how and when the outcome of the project would be achieved (Project Management Institute, 2007). Accordingly, designing a project schedule provides opportunity for project managers to assign tasks and respective date of completion, as well as to be able to match resources with the task over the entire life of the project. Chan and Kumaraswamy (1997), in defining scheduling, indicated scheduling is the process by which resources are allocated over a period of time to ensure the execution of a number of tasks. In line with this, the schedule designed for project managers serves as an important document to record all activities involved in project and analyze any extensions that may become necessary (Linnet & Lowsley, 2006).

Chan (2001) have indicated that the ability of project managers to deliver project on time and within budgets depends to a large extent on accurate project planning. However, from the systems perspective on projects, the complexity as well as the interdependencies between the tasks and the various organizations involved in the project has become increasingly difficult to be able to predict and deliver projects within schedule. In Countries like the UK, delays in the construction of the Parliament house as well as the Clifton Bridge are typical examples of the complexity associated with project scheduling (Linnet & Lowsley, 2006) Project Scheduling Risk

The scheduling process in projects requires that project managers continuously keep the resources required, the interrelationship between various inputs and activities within the schedule to ensure that project meets the schedule time for completion. During the execution phase of the project, project schedules are affected significantly by factors such uncertainty in weather, efficiency and the design, and the condition of the site which may create a schedule risk (Christodoulou, 2010). In support of this, Archibald and Villoria (2003) indicated that projects often overrun the schedules, and the consequence of this could be dramatic in terms of adding additional cost and exceeding time to project managers. Delays are inevitable in projects and the extent and magnitude of these delays may vary depending on the complex nature of the project. With respect to this, identifying and designing strategies to avoid these is critical to ensuring that project managers are able to deal with the challenges that confronts schedules (Ahmed, Azhar, Kappagntula, & Gollapudil, 2003).

Project schedule risk, therefore, may be defined as the tendency for projects to take longer than the time that the project was scheduled to take, which may lead to both cost overruns and shortfalls in performance related variables. In general, the risk that affects project schedules may be regarded as internal and external risks (Mbachu, 2011). The external sources of risk may fall under control of clients, subcontractors, or omissions within the project, economic, globalization, political, environmental, and other factors that are beyond the control of the project managers.

Phases of Project Scheduling

As part of the entire planning process, project scheduling comes in different phases, which entail task definition, schedule development, task duration estimation, task sequencing, task resourcing and Schedule control (Project Management Institute, 2007). Defining work task entails the process by which project managers identifying essential parts of the project and then designs schedules to match their requirement within the work based structure. The sequencing of t ask entails the process of identifying the interrelationships existing between and amongst the various tasks, and specifying the sequence of the task indicating which of the task overlaps each. Resourcing entails identification and estimation of different resources required to perform a task. This may include manpower, financial resources, equipment or materials in the task duration side, and lead and lag times, which also may be set between the various tasks.

Deadlines for task are set in this phase and the task and may be tied to a specific milestone. The schedule development phase entails the analysis and evaluation of a sequence of task, the resources required to execute each of the task, the duration of the project in question and the various constraints on the project (Project Management Institute, 2007). Thus, because of the uncertain and complex environment, project managers often tend to review project schedule regularly and revise it in the progress of the project. In this respect, the projects schedule develops in the project process, whereby deviations and risks are identified and changes arise in the schedule. In this case, it is critically important to assess and understand the complexity of the scheduling process (Ireland & Cleland, 2008), as project schedules tend to transform from the project vision towards a time-based plan.

Scheduling occurs during all phases of the life-cycle. In defining the life cycle phases of the project, Gray and Larson (2008) identified these stages as defining, planning, executing and delivering. The defining moment of the project seeks to provide specification and the objectives as well as the responsibilities and its assignment. The planning stage of the project seeks to identify the scope of the project, the schedule, the budgets, and the expected quality of the project (Gray & Larson, 2008). The executing stage of the project provides the needed monitoring and controls, whilst the delivery stage seeks to hand over the project to the customer and seeking to redeploy new resources for the project. Thus, due to the limited life span of the project coupled with the need to make predictable changes, the ability to design effective schedules at each and every stage of the life cycle is important to ensure that risk are minimized for project to be completed on time.

Techniques of Project Scheduling

The time based nature of a project schedule requires a number of techniques needed for identifying, designing and analyzing the project schedule by focusing on various aspects of the project. Key tools include, but are not limited to, Graphical Evaluation Technique (GERT), Critical path Method (CPM), Project Evaluation and Review Technique, and the Gantt Chart.

The Critical Path Technique provides a step-by-step approach through which critical and non-critical activities within the project are identified to ensure that project meets the scheduled time. This technique seeks to determine the shortest possible time to complete a project phase which is called the critical path. The critical path technique utilizes the power of network dependencies between tasks and duration by calculating the critical path (Wei, 2002). Whilst the Critical path method is simple and provides useful information about the project and its schedule activities, there is a major constraint in using it in real complex projects (Hendrickson, 2013). For example, for projects that are highly complex, there are a number of activities and complex relationships, which therefore makes the application of the critical path method complicated for projects. The method does not also account for scheduling of resources and its allocation (Hendrickson, 2013).

Secondly, the Project Evaluation and Review technique was developed by the United States Department of Defense in the 1950's to ensure that they were able to organize, monitor and control large and complex national defense projects (Hendrickson, 2013). PERT technique provides an opportunity for project managers to account for the effect of complexity in the project schedule design by estimating the worst case, best case and most probable cases in projects (Meredith & Mantel 2005). The PERT framework uses a network diagram, by displaying the activities in arcs with nodes which represents milestones and dependencies. After the construction of the diagram, milestones are numbered to ensure that the ending of activities occurs at milestones with higher number than the milestone that begun. After the completion of the PERT diagram, the planning process begins with the process of task identification, sequence of task, drawing the network diagram representing the various tasks, obtaining estimates of the time each task will take, identification of the critical path (Meredith & Mantel 2005). In general, PERT was designed to incorporate t he needed uncertainty whilst reducing time involved and the cost associated thereof. It provides an opportunity to design an improved schedule plan to ensure the effectiveness of the schedule (Rosenblatt, et al. 2009).

The Gantt Chart seeks to indicate the task and time in a graphical format which allows the allocation of task over time (Nicholas, 2001). Accordingly, Gantt Chart as planning tool is used to represent task timing towards project completion ( Pickton, 2013). Accordingly, Gantt Charts are regarded amongst the simplest scheduling tools and are widely used to schedule projects (Willis, 1986). The Gantt Chart consists of both a horizontal axis and vertical axis indicating the task-time relationship in the schedule. The Gantt Chart may be used for daily or weekly tracking of the progress of the project and it is easy and to maintain. The Gantt Chart, as a tool, shows the start, the elapsed time, and the time for completion of each task in a project; therefore the Chart plays an important role in tracking the progress of the project in an orderly and well defined manner (Schwalbe 2009). In the Gantt Chart, the time required accomplishing the task and the information presented plays a decisive role in identifying slippage or failure points of the project. One major advantage of this technique is that it provides a clear scope of communication which enhances project control (Lock 2007). Associated with this is that the technique is helpful in identifying risk and resource allocation in multiple projects (Jeffrey and Leliveld, 2004)).

In line with the above, the Critical Path method and the PERT are widely used techniques for managing task sequencing in large projects in Ghana, such as the Bui Dam construction project (Liqa-Sally, Koranteng, & Akoto-Danso, 2006). These tools are critical in managing project completion time and schedule considering the merits and demerits of each approach.


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Practices in Ghana for Managing Time on Complex Projects
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Stephen Kingsley Nkatia (Author), 2022, Practices in Ghana for Managing Time on Complex Projects, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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