2005 Winch Kelsey What Do Construction Planners Do

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International Journal of Project Management 23 (2005) 141–149 www.elsevier.com/locate/ijproman

What do construction project planners do?
Graham M. Winch a b


, John Kelsey


Centre for Research in the Management of Projects, University of Manchester, P.O. Box 88, Manchester M60 1QD, UK Centre for Research in the Management of Projects, School of Construction and Project Management, The Bartlett University College London, UK Received 8 July 2003; received in revised form 30 January 2004; accepted 15 June 2004

Abstract Construction project planning is receiving growing attention as the limitations of formal deterministic planning are becoming more widely recognised. In
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 The line manager treating such plans as merely an irrelevant forecast prepared by another. For the whole project process, the ability to influence cost diminishes rapidly over time, the greatest influence being at the design phase. However the greater the time between plan and implementation, the greater is the variance of actual schedule and budget against plan. Detailed planning of activities planned to be executed far into the future – say more than three months – is futile. This is because:  there are uncertainties which cannot be quantified;  stochastic modelling does not identify the cause of variation;  forecasting models extrapolate from past trends which may not be valid for the future. Theoretically, the binomial theorem [7,8] supports this claim. The probability of an event occurring in repeated trials – where the event may be, for instance, a task running 10% over its planned duration – is given by the binomial distribution. This shows that the percentage error of the estimate of the mean performance on the task as a ratio of the percentage error for the mean durations of all tasks in the work breakdown structure (WBS) is inversely proportional to the square root of the number of tasks, for a discrete sequence of tasks. Thus for a 52 week project to be estimated at ±10% accuracy

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