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Project Management

Course objectives and method

The objective of this course is to familiarize students with the concepts and techniques of project management in general and dynamic project scheduling in particular. Every engineer or economist will be faced with projects in her or his function. Some will act as project manager, others as member of a project team or as "customer" of a project. It is important to know the issues of managing and performing projects, as well as the techniques necessary to start and manage projects. 
During the course, the concepts and techniques of "dynamic scheduling" will be discussed, consisting of three main themes: baseline scheduling, risk analysis and project control. The sessions consists of theorical sessions, practical sessions, software exercises and case studies. 
 
The following themes will be discussed:
  • Project management introduction: Practical details and introduction to the Project Life Cycle and Dynamic Scheduling
  • Project scheduling without resources
    • The PERT technique
    • The Critical Path Method (CPM)
    • Schedule Risk Analysis
  • Project scheduling with resources
    • Resource allocation in projects
    • Theory of constraints in project management
    • Financial aspects in project scheduling
    • Real-life cases (VMW and Westerscheldetunnel)
    • Advanced topics in research (project scheduling) or guest speaker (MBA session)
  • Project Control
    • Earned Value Management
    • Earned Schedule

Course material

Slides: The slides are bundled in a book "Project Management" by Academia Press at a price of approximately € 12.00. The Vlaamse Economische Kring (VEK) or Vlaamse Technische Kring (VTK) will distribute these books among all master students on certain predefined days (see their website). Afterwards, the books are available at Story-Scientia (Sint-Kwintensberg 87, Gent).
 
Textbook: The textbook used in this class is titled “Project management with dynamic scheduling: Baseline scheduling, risk analysis and project control” and is an optional book serving as background literature supporting the class sessions and the slides. This book is published by Springer and costs more than € 100!. However, a cheaper version is available for students of Ghent University (around € 50). This book will also be sold by the VEK or is available at Standaard Boekhandel in Gent Kouter (at the reduced price). Students who still use the first edition of this book should look at the list of errors and corrections here. These errors only occur in the first edition of the book. If you have a second edition, no errors have currently been reported.
 
Online learning tool: PM Knowledge Center is specially made for students who follow the course and are interested in simple and easy-to-read articles on dynamic scheduling. You can also post a comment or ask a question on that site. 
 
Software: The dynamic scheduling software tool ProTrack can be used throughout the course. A free version of the latest ProTrack edition is available to "Qualified Educational Users". All students who follow the course are considered to be such users and can request their free copy here

University Contest 

Part of the course consists of a groupwork (written paper and oral presentation). High quality papers will be selected for the University Contest, in collaboration with PMI Belgium. A jury of practitioners will select one groupwork if it is relevant for the PM community. In this case, the winners receive a time slot on one of the events of PMI Belgium, a monetary price, eternal fame and a nice reference on their CV. More information will be given in class. Click on the yearlinks to see the winners of the previous editions for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

News

Session 3. Project Scheduling Game

In session 3, all students need to 'play' the The Project Scheduling Game (PSG). Since the PC room is too small for the whole group, the group of students will be divided in two subgroups. Check Minerva for more details to which group you belong. Here you find the schedule for the two groups (be on time, we have a strict schedule):

  • Students Business Engineering (Oct. 12, 2016): see schedule Minerva
  • Students Civil Engineering (Feb. 24, 2015): see schedule Minerva
Session 6, students Business Engineering (Nov. 9, 2016): In session 6, different types of exercises will be discussed. In a first run, some manual exercises will be made in class using the techniques we discussed in previous sessions. In a second run, a computer exercise will be given that builds further on the Project Scheduling Game of session 3. It is not sure yet whether we will run this computer exercise, so pay attention to what I say in class. If I don't mention anything, ignore it, otherwise, make sure that you bring your own laptop to class (fully charged, both PC and Mac are welcome, 1 computer per two people) and download the PSG Extended (see "downloads" below) in advance.

Downloads

message to students for the session "The Project Scheduling Game":

  • To all students of Vlerick Business School (Belgium) playing the PSG: download the input file, unzip it, put it on a USB stick and bring it to class for session 2. Thank you!
  • To all students of Ghent University (Belgium) playing the PSG: download the input file, unzip it, put it on a USB stick and bring it to class for session 3. Thank you!
  • To all students of Anton De Kom University (Suriname) playing the PSG: download the input file, unzip it, put it on a USB stick and bring it to class for session 2. Thank you!
  • To all students of University College London (UK) playing the PSG: download the input file, unzip it, put it on a USB stick and bring it to class for session 2. Thank you!

message to students for the session "PSG Extended":

  • To all students of Ghent University (Belgium) and University College London (UK) using the PSG Extended feedback: download the input file, unzip it, and put it on your desktop (for mac and windows). Thank you!

References

Some interesting references on Project Management that are available at the library of the faculty of Economics and Business Administration:

  • Integrated Project Management and Control – First Comes the Theory then the Practice. Mario Vanhoucke (Springer)
  • Project Management with Dynamic Scheduling: Baseline Scheduling, Risk Analysis and Project Control. Mario Vanhoucke (Springer)
  • Measuring Time: Improving Project Performance using Earned Value Management. Mario Vanhoucke (Springer)
  • A Practical Guide to Earned Value Project Management. Charles I. Budd and Charlene S. Budd (Management Concepts)
  • Performance-based Earned Value. Paul J. Solomon, PMP and Ralph R. Young, DBA
  • Managing Multiple Projects. Planning, Scheduling, and Allocating Resources for Competitive Advantage. James S. Pennypacker, Lowell D. Dye (PM Practices)
  • Project Management. Planning and Control Techniques. Rory Burke (Wiley)
  • Project Performance Measurement. Robert Kemps (Humphreys & Associates, Inc.)
  • Project Risk Management. Processes, Techniques and Insights. Chris Chapman and Stephan Ward.
  • The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management. A practical Handbook and Reference Free Downloadable Forms. Eric Verzuh (Wiley)
  • Effective Project Management. Traditional, Agile, extreme. Robert K. Wysocki. (Wiley)
  • The deadline. A Novel about Project Management. Tom De Marco (Dorset House Publishing)
  • Mastering Project Portfolio Management; A system Approach to Achieving strategic Objectives. Michaël J. Bible, PMP, Susan S. Bivins, PMP (J.Ross)
  • Project Management for Engineers. J. Michaël Bennett and Danny S.K. Ho (World Scientific)
  • Portfolio, Program and Project Management in the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industries. Pete Harpum (Wiley)

FAQ

Throughout the years, I noticed that student quickly send emails to lectures with various question on the content and practical arrangements of the course, and expect answers within a few second. While I mostly try to answer emails as soon as possible, it is sometimes practically impossible to give individual answers to each student (too many). Moreover, some of the questions always return, which has led to this FAQ overview with the most common question. Not all questions are relevant, but they might help you.

Question: How should we study the course to be prepared for an excellent result?
Answer: Attending all class sessions, study the slides and read parts of the book are helpful methods to be better prepared for the exam. In order to give you a full overview of how to study this course, you can download a brochure “How to study the course PM” from www.or-as.be/downloads.
 
Question: Is the book “Project Management with Dynamic Scheduling” mandatory?
Answer: Nothing is mandatory, but is is highly recommended. The book is written especially for the students of this course. Although I will not strictly follow the individual chapters, it contains all details for all sessions. I therefore believe it is a helpful tool to study the course content and learn more about the wonderful world of Project Management. The book is too expensive to buy on the internet, so make sure you buy it at a reduced price (only for my students).
 
Question: I want to learn more about Project Management. Do you have extra material beyond the scope of the course.
Answer: Thank you for your interest. We have much more. More than you want. More than you can digest. You can visit our website, or alternatively, you can freely download an overview book “The Art of Project Management” on the bookstore website of OR-AS?
 
Question: Can you put the slides, exercises or case studies online?
Answer: No. Most of the material is copyright protected since it is used in various commercial programmes. Since I believe that the material is interesting for master students too, I have chosen not to adapt the material by removing the commercial stuff, or by changing the case studies into useless exercises. The advantage is that you get full access to material that is also used in a more commercial training. The drawback is that the material is only available on hard copy. Note however that a lot of material is freely available online (see previous questions)
 
Question: Is it required to follow the teaching sessions, or can we just learn everything on our own, and solve the exam without the teaching sessions?
Answer: As a lecturer, it is impossible to admit that the course can be studied without the lectures, so I believe that this question should not be asked. Of course it is necessary to follow the class sessions. It’s crucial for your understanding (if I don’t believe in the importance of the teaching sessions, who will?), it allows you to participate in the business games and case studies (class evaluation) and not attending the sessions is bad for your health, causing serious injuries and risk for permanent damage. Or in short: Yes.
 
Question: I cannot attend all sessions. Can you please tell me when it is really necessary to attend?
Answer: No. All sessions are interesting, and you are expected to be there.
 
Question: I cannot attend the business game session (I receive this quesion a lot from student who follow the course as a part time student). Is there a way to run the game on my computer or to have an individual session?
Answer: No, there isn't. The business game session is held in the computer lab, and consist of an introduction, a computer run and a feedback session. Be there if you want to experience the lessons to learn. Otherwise, you can read the chapter in the book to have an idea of how exciting it was. 
 
Question: I haven't attended the first class. You explained the details about the group assignment in this session. Can you please explain it again?
Answer: No. I receive this question a dozens of times and I cannot explain it to every single student separately. I assume you can check with your colleagues of your group what I really except. You should describe to a group via Minerva. Good luck with the group assignment!

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