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Msc Construction Project Management Dissertation Topic Feedback

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Mark Kane
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Hi All, I am trying to come up with a research question and general areas of study within planning and scheduling.  They are as follows:
  • To examine criticism of planning tools (primavera, MS project, Astra, full Project Management tools), traditional techniques (CPM, Earned Value) and the failings of planning as a discipline. 
  • To examine attempts at improving planning and scheduling techniques (Lean Construction, Critical Chain, 4D BIM etc) 
  • To find out if Project planning and scheduling, progress reporting techniques really delivers useful information for the end users (on-site staff, clients and project managers)? 
  • To determine what Planning methods, planning software, techniques are most effective in different projects types.
  • To determine what has planning contributed most to successful projects from an end user perspective (on-site staff, clients and project managers)? To recommend areas of improvement to current planning, scheduling and reporting techniques within planning. 
 I propose to survey planners and project managers, or look at perhaps a case studies of badly planned vs well planned projects where the plan is a center of the project. For example, does the plan drive the work on site and is it used as a tool to manage work, or just a progress reporting tool? Does the planner have decision making ability to determine progress, or any authority? Is the plan data linked to any areas of the project, or just standalone? Is planning as it stands dynamic enough to manage fast changing projects?  I am only at the stage of trying to prepare research question, the areas above may too wide an area to study so if you could give some feedback, or suggest areas which may be worth researching. 

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Mark Kane
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Vladimir, Good presentation, this what I was looking for, are examples of it's practical implementation on a project. Mark.

Mark,

contingency plans shall be incorporated into the project model, risks are changing during project execution, some risks will be missed, etc. That is why we recommend to use risk simulation for analysing and managing trends of success probabilities. Even if initial estimates of project risks are not correct trends of probabilities to achieve project targets help to apply necessary corrective actions when needed.

Look at the presentation http://www.spiderproject.com/images/img/pdf/Construction%20CPM%20Conference%202019/Risk%20simulation%20problems%20and%20advantages.pdf where Success Driven Project Management is briefly discussed.

Mark Kane
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Vladimir, I have looked at some Risk Analysis techniques like Monte Carlo, however I agree I do not see how they would create an accurate schedule other than add some contingency to a schedule, there seems lots of theory but I wonder has anyone verified if they actually deliver more accurate schedules than just assigning an approximate contingency. Plus there is Risk between activities not taken in to account, Risks defined in risk registers with contingency plans, Risks which are hard to define in a schedule etc.
Mark Kane
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Mark,

now you suggest to examine applied risk management techniques that was not mentioned in your initial post.

This topic is very interesting but few planners aplly quantitative risk analysis in day by day management.

Risk analysis technique does not provide an accurate schedule, but suggests contingency reserves that shall be added to the project schedule, project budget and other parameters that were analyzed.

Mark Kane
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You could look at what risks and uncertainty they identified before, how were these managed in the schedule, what risks occurred, and did the actual risk management techniques give you an accurate schedule?

It may prove that initial estimates were right or wrong and nothing else.
Mark Kane
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A simple approach would be to just look at many baseline plans vs as built plans, to find out the difference between planned finish date and actual finish, and assuming there is differences between the two then question why the date was not achieved, or was it achieved before planned finish, and how different the as built activity list is compared with the planned, what occured during the project to make the logic or activities different from first planned.

Yes, Mark, it looks like few plans are created for resource and cost management. Most are used for management of project contracts. An answer to one simple question "if he/she uses resource leveling" explains the purpose of the project plan.

Mark Kane
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One concern I have is interviewing Planners, In my experience Planners will never admit there is anything wrong with the plans they submit, for example does the plan drive the work or is it driven by changes on the project. For example often plans are just a progress reporting tool that is sent off to a client, they are not used in anyway to manage the work.

Danya Pearce
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I have just done my MSc dissertation on Delay Analysis and was so frustrated because only AFTER my inteviews did I realise one or two questions I should have asked after i had finsihed my literature portion (and didnt) and it was too late to change course......

Agree with the above comments. As complicated as we want to be, ironically it gets too hard to analyse when it comes to the analysis part. 

I would also stay away from software because there will be too many variables and you want to avoid commercial critiques of software......

BIM is a huge thing in the industry, personally very exciting HOWEVER you will find limited research on the topic (during my coursework it was shown to be limited with actual case history and precedences). I do think its an interesting topic though and if you can get a case study on a large BIM project that is integrating with planning that would be amazing, but you would need months and months...probably more a PHD from a timing point of view. You would also need permissions and to actually be on the project or have access to those working on it. All quite complex unless arranged in advance. However, think of the end result could be incredible and you could get a project spotlight to be taken seriously in the industry. Lots of scope for follow on papers to be written based on this case study. 

I would start from first principles. Ask yourself what problem you have identified in your career and perhaps pick it as a research topic to see if its a genuine issue in the market. At the end of the day, you want something you can get data from and that will be easy to analyse in a statistical format. Thats where most ppl go wrong. 

Good luck. Breathe and if you come up against issues, you can usually figure your way out of the rut, thats the beneift of planning skills ;)

Hi Mark,

all topics are interesting if to dig deep enough.

Mark Kane
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Hi All, I am now thinking of focusing on Risk Management with planning and scheduling, plus I think its a more interesting topic.

 

Mark.

Edward McCabe
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.

Edward McCabe
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All interesting topics.

Having had recent experience of completing a similar MSc myself - don't go for anything too avant garde because you may struggle to find enough research to back anything up. 4D planning could well fall in to this category.

Zoltan Palffy
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I agree with Santosh Pick one

Santosh Bhat
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Hi Mark, I fear it may be too broad to cover all those topics and perhaps you should focus on one in particular. Especially as you will really be required to research across multiple projects, multiple organisations etc to really understand patterns rather than a one-off project as the bassis for your assessment.

 

I would also, in additiont o the techniques you've listed, inlcude Linear Scheduling into the mix.