• BUSINESS SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS

Nukiesoft, the software engineering services, believes, practices and evangelizes the practice of the software engineering principles and best practices. Our adopted process framework, and our conviction on quality based our own software development experience, enables us to deliver the best to our customers. While software engineering has been around for decades, its adoption leading to business success through improved quality and predictability has been, by and large, a mirage. Software is essentially a construction in mind and, a collective one at that, with many stakeholders of varying interests and skills. Applying the engineering principles is more of continuous refinements of an adaptive process rather than adoption of a prescriptive process .Nukiesoft, with its wealth of acquired knowledge and more than a decade of experience, has specialized in transitioning itself and its customers into sound software engineering practices without undue documentation and technology overheads. We are the only IT Consultancy Managament, Desgn and Development, Software as Services (SaaS) and Cloud Application Solutions.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

In today’s business environment, two factors have become common: change and complexity. The nature of business has incorporated these factors into our everyday lives. We work in an environment of constant change and increasing complexity, and must be competitive, productive, customer-focused, and profitable. Much has been written about change in the business community. Indeed, we all know the one constant is the existence of change. Marketing strategies, manufacturing strategies, service strategies - all must accept the realization that as soon as the details are spelled out, factors in the marketplace will demand that the strategy be revisited. Managing change has become a key ingredient for today’s successful business.

Business has also become extremely complicated. This complexity is related to the number of factors involved in the effort, the global scope of markets, and the sheer size of the efforts being undertaken. Even small decisions often involve the interplay of hundreds of variables. Project management is both an art and a science.

The processes presented in this document illustrate the science of project management. The science consists of a systematic approach using a standard methodology. The art consists of “soft skills” including leadership, trust, credibility, problem solving, and managing expectations. The art of project management is developed through experience, practice, and intuition. A project manager who is skilled in the art instinctively knows how and when to react to project problems. Project management is equally divided between the art and science and a successful project manager utilizes and refines both skill sets to effectively manage projects.

The Project Management Office (PMO) will ensure effective implementation of corporate strategic objectives by providing leadership and oversight of projects and programs. The PMO will utilize industry recognized project management processes and disciplines to become a center of excellence offering project management resources, consultation, tools, training, support, and planning to any organization or individual within the organization.

What Is A Project?

Projects have become the new way of accomplishing and managing business activities. Projects are the temporary assemblage of key personnel designed to accomplish specific business objectives with identifiable customers in mind. A project has a beginning and an end. The project team dissolves once the objectives are met. It is fluid and driven by the specific needs of that business. The project approach to managing business activities embraces change and complexity.

Projects can be defined in many different ways. However, there are some traits that all projects have in common. Typically, these traits are used to identify what a project is. The most distinguishing feature is a specific time frame. All projects have a beginning and an end. Many efforts are called “projects” but actually become programs as they extend indefinitely and cover broader, less specific business objectives. Projects must have a clear, definitive goal or objective. The objective is specific, identifiable, and can be accomplished. A project usually involves varied activities, which produce quantifiable and qualifiable deliverables that when added together, accomplish the overall objective. Key Characteristics of Projects

􀂃 A project has boundaries, so its extent is defined.

􀂃 A project is a one-time effort, usually requiring finite resources.

􀂃 There are distinct start and end dates for projects.

􀂃 You know when you have reached the end of the project.

What Is Project Management?

Project Management is the process of achieving project objectives (schedule, budget and performance) through a set of activities that start and end at certain points in time and produce quantifiable and qualifiable deliverables.

Successful project management is the art of bringing together the tasks, resources and people necessary to accomplish the business goals and objectives within the specified time constraints and within the monetary allowance. Projects and Programs are linked directly to the strategic goals and initiatives of the organization supported.

What Is A Project Management Life Cycle?

The process each manager follows during the life of a project is called the Project Management Life Cycle. A proven methodical life cycle is necessary to repeatedly implement and manage projects successfully.

During the life cycle of any project, proven and tested project management processes or best practices are should be initiated. The types and extent of processes initiated depend on the nature of the project, i.e. size, probability of failure and consequences of failure. Strong and effective leaders apply process to protect all projects.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) provides guidance for project management in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). Every project has a life cycle, with a beginning, a life and an end (defined by accomplishing the objective). The following defines a typical project life cycle and shows the relationship between PMBOK Life Cycle Phases and our Life Cycle Phases:

There are 9 major knowledge areas of project management that PMBOK describes as required expertise for all project managers. They are:

􀂃 Scope Management

􀂃 Communications Management

􀂃 Risk Management

􀂃 Human Resources Management

􀂃 Procurement Management

􀂃 Time Management

􀂃 Cost Management

􀂃 Quality Management

􀂃 Integration Management

Each of these management areas consists of processes, tools and techniques that are produced and/or applied to some degree during the course of any project. The following set of illustrations depict the project management life cycle, knowledge areas, and processes used:

1 Project Management

1.1 Introduction

Project management nowadays is regarded as a very high priority as all companies or organizations, whether small or large, are at one time or another involved in implementing new undertakings, innovations and changes etc. – projects! These projects may be individually diverse, however over time, some tools, management techniques and problem-solving approaches have proven themselves to be more rewarding than others in bringing projects to a successful end. The development of project management has always been in parallel to the development of general trends in worldwide economics. The 1990's were all about globalization; the 2000's are about velocity and close to the edge of a new decade in which the world maybe has to face an economic recession. Nowadays, almost more than ever, everybody asks for “projects” to return the world economy to its former speed. This also underlines the importance of continuous learning and development of project management capabilities in organizations to allow corporate teams in a fast changing world to work collaboratively in defining plans and managing complex projects by synchronizing team-oriented tasks, schedules, and resource allocations. However, gaining and sharing project information is not the only key to success. Today’s information technologies allow project managers to practice and work with their teams in a real-time environment. As a consequence of this potential, project team members are able to concurrently view, act and react to the same updated information immediately. Additionally to external challenges, project teams are forced on a macro level to deliver satisfying results for internal or external customers and stay within the restrictions of budget, time and resources (quality and quantity). In parallel to these deliverables, executives are also asking the project management on a micro level to ensure the use of modern management tools, such as (1) customizing the project organization to fit the operational style of the project teams and respective team members, (2) informing the executive management about the project's progress on a real-time basis, (3) ensuring that critical task deadlines are met and (4) ensuring that project team members know about and monitor project risk and share accurate, meaningful and timely project documents. As a result, the thrilling and demanding position of a project manager not only requires a particular set of skills - how to communicate, to control and to motivate people, but also the specific knowledge about tools and techniques required to run a project successfully.

1.2 Project Management and Process Management

Looking at process management and project management, on one side these terms go hand-in-hand with delivering successful (project and routine) work, yet on the other side, hardly any terms more often result in confusion and misunderstandings. According to Johansson [Johansson et al. (1993)], a process can be defined as the constitution of links between activities and the transformation that takes place within the process. This can include the upstream part of the value chain as a possible recipient of the process output. Therefore, every process has the following characteristics:

- Definability: It must have clearly defined boundaries, input and output. - Order: It must consist of activities that are ordered according to their position in time and space. - Customer: There must be a recipient of the process' outcome, i.e. a customer. - Value-adding: The transformation taking place within the process must add value to the recipient, either upstream or downstream. - Embeddedness: A process cannot exist in and of itself; it must be embedded in an organizational structure. - Cross-functionality: A process regularly can, but not necessarily must, span several functions.

Frequently, a process owner, i.e. a person being responsible for the performance and continuous improvement of the process, is also considered as a prerequisite. The fundamental nature of a project on the other hand is that it is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. Projects are distinguished from operations (and therefore also from processes) and from programs. A project will deliver business and/or technical objectives, is made up of defined processes & tasks, will run for a set period of time has a budget and resources. Project Management deals with tracking this process' execution, from a schedule and cost perspective. It includes functions for developing the optimal project schedule, producing a financial model of the project, scheduling and tracking of effort against plan, managing costs against budget, and reporting of status, to name but a few. The uniqueness of the deliverable, whether it is a product, service, or result, requires a special approach in that there may not be a pre-existing blueprint for the project’s execution and there may not be a need to repeat the project once it is completed. Uniqueness does not mean that there are not similarities to other projects, but that the scope for a particular project has deliverables that must be produced within constraints, through risks, with specific resources, at a specific place, and within a certain period; therefore, the process to produce the deliverable as well as the deliverable itself is unique.

To be temporary signifies that there is a discrete and definable commencement and conclusion; the management of a project requires tailored activities to support this characteristic and, as such, a key indicator of project success is how it performs against its schedule—that is, does is start and end on time? Therefore, every project has the following characteristics: - Consists of temporary activities that have predetermined start and end dates. - Uses restricted resources. - It has a single goal or a set of goals. - All events are to be realized to develop a single and new output. - Usually has a budget. - Usually a project manager is responsible for co-ordinating all activities.

Projects are usually chartered and authorized external to the project organisation by an enterprise, a government agency, a company, a program organisation, or a portfolio organisation, as a result of one or more of the following features:

- A market demand (e.g., a consumer product company authorising a project to develop a new fruit drink for kids with less sugar in response to an increased health awareness) - A business need (e.g., a publisher authorising a project to write a new book to increase its revenues) - A customer request (e.g., an amusement park authorizing a company to develop a new roller coaster) - A technological advance (e.g., an electronics firm authorising a new project to develop a faster, cheaper, and smaller netbook) - A legal requirement (e.g., U.S. federal government authorises a project to establish laws for controlling the home loan system) - A social need (e.g., a non-governmental organisation authorising a project to raise the awareness of donating blood)

These features can also be called problems, opportunities, or business requirements. The central theme of all these features is that management must make a decision about how to respond and what projects to authorize and charter.

This book will provide a framework demonstrating how a project can be initiated, planned, executed and closed within a regular project life cycle, which also forms the conceptual framework of this book and is shown in Figure 1-1.

1.3 Conceptual Framework

Projects typically have identifiable phases and each phase has a unique set of challenges for the project manager. If we view the project from the highest level, these basic project phases can be also identified as major factors influencing the project success. If one of these phases is planned or executed wrongly, the project will have a high probability of failure.

Chapter 2 will describe the challenges of a project organisation. Project management is used in almost every organisation or industry; however the bigger and therefore more complex an organisation is, the more professional the approach has to be implemented for the right project organisation. Specialists from different departments can not just be pulled away from their line responsibilities or new employees can’t just be hired without the internal and external communication requirements, career perspectives and the distribution of power being taken into consideration.

In Chapter 3 the project work finally starts: The major deliverables and the participating work groups are identified. The team begins to take shape. Questions of possibility (can we do the project?) and justification (should we do the project?) are addressed.

Next is the Planning Phase (Chapter 4), where the project scope is further developed in as detailed a level as possible. Intermediate project outcomes and milestones are identified, along with the strategy for achieving them. Formulating this strategy begins with the definition of the required elements of work tasks and the optimum sequence for executing them. Estimations are made regarding the amount of time and money needed to perform the work and when the work is to be done.

Chapter 5 describes the execution phase: the project work is performed under the watchful eye of the project management. Performance and progress is continuously monitored and appropriate adjustments are made according to a strictly regulated change in management procedure and recorded as distinctions from the once defined strategy. Throughout this phase, the project team concentrates on meeting the objectives regarding time, budget and resources developed and agreed upon at the beginning of the project.

Chapter 6 deals with the increasingly important requirements of risk management. Especially during the last economic crisis, it was proven that inadequate risk management systems played an important role more in many project disasters. Proper risk management tracks the progress of outstanding action plans, describes who is responsible for those actions, and sets the expected timeframe for resolution.

As shown in fig. 1-1, the arrow points again to chapter 3, defining the project scope. This, however, just reflects the idea and practical experience that rarely does a project comes within the set boundaries of time, budget or resources. Project Management also has a lot to do with constantly rehearsing and slightly adapting the original project scope in a controlled way.

2 Project Organisations

2.1 Introduction

The ambition is to achieve technologically and economically the best results in the development of continuously more complex and organisational problem-solving strategies. Complex tasks in large organisations require the greatest possible co-operation between corporate divisions and specialists and requires a great deal of multidisciplinarity. The more project work becomes important for affected organisations, the less traditional management and organisational concepts will be successful. Traditional organisations are mainly characterised by a split-up between competence and management (leadership), which is focused on an efficient and effective job processing. Project management seems the ideal solution to maximise the possibility of the successful completion of a task, which is, by definition, timelimited.

But the implementation of project teams within the organisations can not only be challenging, but also dangerous, as the fulfilment of a project task has usually never been achieved before and therefore implies a lot of uncertainty, especially for the project member affected. Looking at the institutional side of project management - mainly structural aspects of the organisation, the link with the parent organisations as well as Human Resources are considered. Questions concerning the best project organisation, the (personnel) configuration of the project team and the decision powers also have to be answered. As a project is mainly run under time restrictions and therefore tolerance for adaption or failure-correction is hardly available, the set-up of the project organisation is probably the largest obstacle to projectsuccess.

When deciding on a project organisation it should be the aim to give the involved departments and project members a maximum degree of freedom in their decisions, to consider personnel restrictions and requirements of the organisation and to avoid havoc caused by unclear job descriptions or an accumulation of co-ordination requirements. But also, simply choosing the best position of a project organisation - between a pure line organisation and a pure project organisation, won’t necessarily be successful. By using such a standardised roadmap, opportunities and risks of different organisational structures can not be seen and “powercentres” and areas of conflict can not be identified.

The common understanding of project managers nowadays is that there is not a single best option for setting up a project organisation. The chosen organisational structure has to reflect the requirements of the project and the organisations, has to fit the possible requirements as well as technological opportunities of the future and therefore is the best balance between technological and human-social factors. Project

Management has to identify prior to a project start the internal and external requirements in order to give the best possible recommendation for a successful project.

2.2 Project Organisation and Responsibilities

The structural organisation is a static framework of an organisation that defines on one side the internal distribution of tasks to individuals or departments, and on the other side the relationship between the individuals / departments. While the structural organisation defines who has to do a job, the operational structure follows a more dynamic approach, namely when, where and how often something has to be done.

In Project Management, the structural organisation has to fulfil two tasks:

- Definition, how a project organisation is embedded within the parent organisation (organisational models, see discussion below). - Definition, how the organisation is structured internally within the project team. The general framework of such an internal project organisation is shown in Figure 2-1: The project sponsor is the manager or executive within an organisation who is not directly involved in the operational work of the project but who can oversee a project, delegate authority to the Project Manager and can provide support as a trainer or coach to the Project Manager. The Project Sponsor has sufficient authority or influence to direct all the staff involved in a project – or as many as possible – and to get the co-operation of key stakeholders. He ensures that the project is aligned with the organizational strategy and compliant with policy. In larger projects, he has frequent contact with the Project Manager so as to monitor his effectiveness. Depending on the initial set-up of the project he can also chair the Steering Committee, approve final deliverables and communicate about the project inside the agency and with external stakeholders.

The steering committee is a group of senior managers responsible for business issues affecting the project. They usually have budget approval authority, make decisions about changes in goals and scope and are the highest authority to resolve issues or disputes. The steering committee assists with resolving strategic level issues and risks, can approve or reject changes to the project with a high impact on timelines and budget and has to assess project progress and report on the project to senior management and higher authorities.

The steering committee provides advice and guidance on business issues facing the project and they use influence and authority to assist the project in achieving its outcomes. Both the project sponsor and the steering committee also have to carry out the project governance of a project. As much as corporate governance is required nowadays not only in stock listed companies, project organisations also require compliance with certain rules. Governance in general can be described as all activities and processes which ensure that directors and managers act in the interests of the organisation and are accountable for their use of those assets.

Project governance is carried out by regular review of project documents, such as plans and status reports, looking for evidence that the project is in the interests of the organisation and uses assets responsibly. In discussions and decisions, the person responsible for the Project Governance has to vote for what he believes is best for the organisation and its stakeholders. To fulfill all these requirements it is compulsory that the Project Manager and his team demonstrate competence, ethics, and compliance with organizational policy.

An advisory committee is a group of people that represents key project stakeholders and provides advice to the project. Like steering committees, advisory committees are generally recruited from senior management. Unlike steering committees, advisory committees can not make decisions regarding a project. Their role is to provide insights to the team regarding stakeholder interests, technical advice and other relevant initiatives. Parallel to the steering committee, they assist with resolving issues and risks and should use their influence and authority to assist the project in achieving its outcomes and to communicate about the project progress within their organizations.

The project manager is naturally the key person within the project organisation and has the overall responsibility for meeting project requirements within the agreed to time, cost, scope and quality constraints which form the framework of the project plan. Project managers report to the steering committee, which has delegated its authority to the project manager. The general tasks of a project manager are:

- Supervision and guidance to the project team - Regular (weekly or monthly) project status reports to the project sponsor/ steering committee - Chair risk and change control committees (if applicable for a project) - Attend steering committee meetings and prepare supporting materials with the project sponsor - Execute project management processes: risk, issues, change, quality, and document management - Ensure project plan, schedule and budget are up-to-date; detect and manage variances

A team leader is a person responsible for managing one part of a project, or a “subproject.” This position only exists on larger projects where subprojects are required due to the number of employees involved or different project goals allow the parallel work. A team leader ideally has project management skills, including human resource management, in addition to relevant technical skills. Usually, junior project managers are selected for this position. A team leader reviews all sub-team deliverables, holds regular sub-team status meetings and provides regular status reports to the project manager.

Last but not least, a team member is a person assigned to a team who is responsible for performing a clearly defined part of the project activities. Depending on the organizational set-up a team member may report directly or indirectly to the project manager and is assigned to work part-time or full-time on the project.

2.3 Organisational Models

There are two fundamentally different ways of organizing projects within the parent organisation:

- The project as part of the functional organisation or pure line organisation - The project as a free-standing part of the parent organisation (project organisation) - A third type, called a matrix organisation, is a hybrid of the two main types

Project Management Activities

1. Planning the work 2. Estimating resources 3. Organizing the work 4. Acquiring human and material resources 5. Assigning tasks 6. Directing activities 7. Controlling project execution 8. Reporting progress 9. Analyzing the results based on the facts Achieved

Project Management Overview

To increase an efficiency of a product, nowadays many web development companies are using different project management systems. A company may run a number of projects at a time, and requires input from a number of individuals, or teams for a multilevel development plan, whereby a good project management system is needed. Project management systems represent a rapidly growing technology in IT industry. As the number of users, who utilize project management applications continues to grow, web based project management systems enter a critical role in a multitude of companies. Thus, a proper project management system plays a distinctive part in ensuring reliable, robust and high quality web applications for customers. Developing a web based project management system and showing how, in turns, it helps users to handle projects. These processes in every day´s working life, is the scope of the thesis. The reliability and robustness of a web based project management system has also been set as the structure of the current thesis. Finally, a web based project management system has been developed, which highly meets the standards and requirements set by the company. The web based project management system uses an already integrated TRAC application that has improved to suite company needs.

Web based project management systems are designed to manage and store project information that are used in web-based applications. By different groups of people such as, seals department, programmers or project managers will be let by project applications a controlled access to information and automated distribution of information.

The objective for collaboration has been: getting thing done faster, cheaper and better by applying their common knowledge, bringing together a selection of resources and attainments in a project. Because valid collaboration with teams improves productivity, speeds up result-making and optimizes of making a right decisions, it also helps to intercept precious intellectual fortune and time. Web-based project management system can surprisingly increase performance, productivity and efficiency within an organization. Since web-based applications can be accessed through any web browser, no desktop installation or updates are required. Moreover, developers, who write great code while staying out of the way are able to use it along the distance, while they stay in geographically different place and collaboration between team still exists. Please find a short overview of the system as described below. The aim of the Figure is to provide the background of the system conducted. The background of the system includes an introduction to the system area and the motivation behind the development and research. Web based project management systems are designed to manage and store project information that are used in web-based applications. By different groups of people such as, seals department, programmers or project managers will be let by project applications a controlled access to information and automated distribution of information. The objective for collaboration has been: getting thing done faster, cheaper and better by applying their common knowledge, bringing together a selection of resources and attainments in a project. Because valid collaboration with teams improves productivity, speeds up result-making and optimizes of making a right decisions, it also helps to intercept precious intellectual fortune and time. Web-based project management system can surprisingly increase performance, productivity and efficiency within an organization. Since web-based applications can be accessed through any web browser, no desktop installation or updates are required. Moreover, developers, who write great code while staying out of the way are able to use it along the distance, while they stay in geographically different place and collaboration between team still exists Project Management is the discipline of defining and achieving targets while optimizing the use of resources (time, money, people, materials, energy, space, etc) over the course of a project (a set of activities of finite duration). Project Management System (PMS) is essential in supporting project tracking and control functions. A PMS provides a platform to organize, store and retrieve the planned and actual performance data of projects in a logical and efficient manner.

The PMS queries the stored project data using SQL (structured query language) to generate different management reports for control purposes. It follows that the design of the database should follow a well-defined structure to support the tracking and control of individual tasks at different levels of reporting. The data structure should also facilitate the linkage of those individual tasks to their respective construction trades. A work package model is commonly used to describe the data structure of a project. The work package is a general expression that represents a well-defined scope of work that usually terminates in a deliverable product. It includes activities and tasks within those activities as depicted in the work breakdown structure (WBS) as an example shown below. The WBS is generally configured in accordance with the way the work will be performed and reflects the way in which project costs and data will be summarized and eventually reported. The application of PMS for project control has been developed using DBMS to support automated cost and schedule control functions. We used the work package model to represent the project data. This system, however, only supports the application of earned value for progress reporting. The earned-value method integrates time and cost to overcome the limitations of traditional control methods, which use the cost as the only indicator for the performance of a task. The method is widely accepted as an integrated project control tool. However, this method only tracks cost and schedule variances, and neither supports reasoning to explain unacceptable performance nor advises on possible corrective action(s). To overcome those limitations, DBMSs have been used in conjunction with knowledge-based expert systems for project control.

A knowledge-based approach for project control. In this system, a single form is used to store data pertinent to individual work packages. Their control functions focus on individual work packages and proposed a prototype rule-based expert system to improve project control. Two forms of data – one related to activities, the other related to the project – are defined to map the data structure of a project. The developed system can be implemented at project and activity levels. The developed a web-based system for project control of control objects. An object-based model is proposed to integrate the project data in support of project control functions. The developed system can be implemented at project, control-object, and resource levels. This application presents an internet-based database management system designed to support contractors and/or project managers in tracking a project’s progress. The application focuses primarily on the system database, which provides a high degree of flexibility through its data structure to support three-level project control. The application also presents a numerical example to demonstrate the use of the developed system and to illustrate its essential features. Features of the PMS Application

The PMS application system consists of seven main components:

• user interfaces; • input/edit; • evaluation; • reasoning; • forecasting; and • reporting

The user interface provides a viewing/input window that allows users to interact with the system through the worldwide web using an internet browser; the input/edit is a data input, update and delete component that is developed to facilitate data entry and edit; the evaluation component assesses the cost and schedule variances using the earned-value method; the reasoning component diagnoses possible reasons behind the variances through a set of built-in indicators; the forecasting component predicts the project’s time and cost at completion; the reporting component generates the performance reports on a daily, weekly, monthly, and/or yearly basis. The reports have a tabular format as well as a graphic format that can be generated in a user-friendly manner. Two relational databases (project and historical) are developed. The project database stores planned and actual cost and schedule data for the project being considered. Upon completion of the project, all information collected in the project database is transferred to the historical database. The historical database has the same structure as the project database.

Developed database

Data structure is essential to the development of an efficient database. This is particularly important in supporting project control functions. Project control is carried out using a set of control objects. The control object, could represent a phase of a project, a work package, and/or a cost account defined using cost breakdown structure (CBS) It has the resources necessary to complete the tasks included within that control object. Based on this, all of the project data can be treated as an aggregation of a pre-defined set of control objects. Each control object has its resources of labor, material, equipment, and sub-contractors. In the PMS system, sub-contractors are treated as a type of resource. Each resource has a budgeted value and an actual consumed value. Each control object has relation(s) to other control objects as well as its own method of resource allocation. It also has attributes that describe its characteristics, such as sensitivity to weather and site congestion, as well as a set of threshold values that defines unacceptable performance. Each type of resource in a control object may have single or multiple sub-resources. It should be noted that each control object is an abstract representation of a physical component of a project, as stated earlier. The budgeted resources of a control object serve as a control reference as they are actually consumed over the project duration.

Representation of project data

The entities-relationship (ER) methodology is employed in mapping the project data and in formulating it into a project database. The ER diagram consists of entities, relationships, and attributes. Entities are basic objects with an independent physical or conceptual existence. A binary relationship (i.e. only two entities are related at a time) is used in designing the database. Relationship types involve one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many relationships. Different types of attributes are used in the development of this database, including composite, single-valued, multi-valued, null-valued, and key attributes. Composite attributes form a hierarchy that decomposes a unit into smaller components, each with its own independent meaning, as in a project that is decomposed into control objects, and control objects are decomposed into their resources. Single-valued attributes are used to identify the names and codes of projects, control objects, and resources. Multi-valued attributes are used to define the different resources such as cost, working hours, and material quantities. Key attributes are used to distinguish entities. Each entity has a unique identifier called a primary key, where a key can be a single attribute or a combination of several attributes (a composite key). The ER diagram serves as a reference for the developer to ensure that all the required data are modeled without conflict between entities and relationships. The above figure represents the ER diagram of the project database. In this figure, the database is modeled conceptually using 15 entities (12 physical and three conceptual) and 20 relations. The physical entities represent the Company, Employee, User, Project, Control Object, and resources of Craft, Labor, Material, Equipment, Sub Contractor, as well as resource Allocation and control-object Progress. These entities record the internal information of the project being modeled such as names of companies, employees, projects, and corresponding budgeted and actual values of labor, material, equipment, and sub-contractors. The Craft entity describes the types of labor. The Labor entity records the personnel labor information. The Allocation entity defines the method used in the allocation of budgeted data. The Progress entity records installed daily quantities. The conceptual entities are P status, C status, and Predecessor. These entities record the external information of their respective control objects. P status records daily site condition, including congestion and weather. The C status entity records the actual start and finish dates of a control object (assuming that all the resources for a control object have the same start and finish dates). The Predecessor entity defines the relations to other control objects. A one-to-one relationship exists between Control Object-C status entities and Employee-User entities. It means that a control-object can only have one start date and one finish date and one employee can only become one user of the system. A one-to-many relationship exists between the entities Company-Employee, Company-Project, User-Project, User-Control Object, Project-Control Object, Project-P status, Control Object-Allocation, Control Object-Predecessor, Control Object-C status, and Control Object-Progress. This acknowledges that a company can have many employees and projects. A user can control many projects and control objects. A project may contain many control objects. A control object can have many predecessors. Each has its daily status and progress data. A many-to-many relationship exists between the Control Object entity and the resources of Craft, Material, Equipment, and Sub Contractor entities. This means that each control object has its planned and actual resources and these types of resources can be used by other control objects. The relationship between Labor and Craft is designed to record the actual labor cost for that craft. The ER diagram can also express the existing dependency of one entity type on another. For example, the arrow in the relationship of Project-P status indicates that the existence of the P status entity depends on the Project entity, but the Project entity does not rely on the P status entity. Therefore, the participation of the Project entity is considered partial participation and the participation of the dependent entities is total or full. P status, Predecessor, C status, and Progress are weak entities because they use the primary key of the Project entity as a part of their individual primary key. It should be noted that the proposed object-based model is compatible with the Industrial Foundation Classes (IFCs) proposed by the International Alliance for Interoperability. This facilitates integration with other software applications. The proposed model provides further efficiency in its implementation through the use of the specially designed entities described above. Implementation A three-tier client-server computer architecture is used to implement the developed system, It involves the presentation tier, the application logic/middle tier, and the data tier. The user interfaces are the components of the presentation tier, which handles the system’s communication with the user. The databases are components of the data tier. The input/edit, evaluation, reasoning, forecasting, and reporting components belong to the application logic/middle tier.

Adjacent tiers are connected through the internet.

The database as described in the ER diagram is located in the data tier. It is implemented using the SQL database environment. In essence, these tables map the entities and their respective relationships. The data type of the primary key in the entity tables is “auto-number”, which avoids the redefinition of the key. The attributes of the entities and relationships record the budgeted and actual data described below.

Data entry

JavaScript functions, Microsoft Visual Script functions, and HTML (hypertext markup language) were used to design a set of web-forms to facilitate data entry. All specially designed input and edit forms have been developed to support the process of populating the database. Figure above depicts a sample of web-forms for entering the budget data of a control object. These web forms are designed to provide a simple user-friendly interface. They are components of the user interface. The web forms respond to users’ requests and trigger the input/edit component in the application logic/middle tier. ODBC (open database connectivity) connects the input/edit component with the database to facilitate data entry and retrieval. The budget input data includes the planned start date of the project, the planned finish date, the total quantity of control objects, the scheduled start date, the planned duration, the lag time, the cost of labor, the cost of materials, the cost of equipment, the cost of sub-contractor(s), the labor man-hours, the equipment working-hours, sub-contractor(s) working-hours, material quantities, the planned numbers of labor, as well as the threshold values for time and cost control, the method of resource allocation, and the relationships to other control objects. For control purposes, the characteristics of a control object such as sensitivity to weather and site congestion are also considered. The period-by-period input or daily input of site data includes control object actual start date, control object revised quantity, actual quantity installed, actual cost of labor, actual cost of materials, actual cost of equipment, actual cost of sub-contractor(s), actual labor man-hours, actual equipment working hours, actual sub-contractor(s) working hours, materials usage, number of labor, and actual finish date, as well as the weather and other related site conditions. It should be noted that only the direct cost of labor, material, and equipment are taken into consideration.

Verification and validation

The issues related to data verification, validation, and the overall performance of the developed database started from the conceptual design of the database through to its final implementation, including the design of the web forms. Design verification ensures that the developed database is in accordance with the ER diagram and that it satisfies its functional requirements. Data entry verification was carried out independently. Specially designed JavaScript and/or Visual Basic Script functions embedded in the web forms are used to verify data type, length, and format. Whenever new data is entered, the system automatically checks the data format. In the case of an error in input data or missing data, the system prompts users with appropriate message. The implementation of the developed database was tested and evaluated using a numerical example. The system was used to evaluate project performance at a user-selected reporting date. The project was broken down into 23 control objects using the work breakdown structure. The budget data of these control objects and the data related to the actual performance of the in-progress control objects were entered using the developed web forms. The actual data were entered from the construction site on a daily basis. The system was then activated to evaluate the project performance. In this report, the calculated earned-value parameters for the reported period are presented (values in brackets are negative). This includes BCWS (budgeted cost of work scheduled), BCWP (budgeted cost of work performed), ACWP (actual cost of work performed), CV (cost variance), PCs (actual percentage completion), SV (schedule variance), CPI (cost performance index), and SPI (schedule performance index). The positive and negative cost variances, reported in Figure 6, represent cost saving and overrun, respectively. Similarly, positive and negative schedule variances represent schedule advance and delay, respectively.

Summary and conclusions

An internet-based database management system has been presented for the tracking and control of construction activities. The application has focused primarily on the design and implementation of the system’s relational database. The developed system can generate earned-value based project status reports at user-specified reporting dates. Fifteen entities and 20 relations exist in the developed database. By taking advantage of the worldwide web, the system provides a real-time data sharing environment and accordingly supports the generation of timely site progress reports. A numerical example is presented to demonstrate the capabilities of the developed system. The earned-value report generated by the developed system was identical to that of when threshold values of time and cost variances were set equal to zero. In addition, the developed system integrates the entire project data using the object model as proposed. The developed database not only considers the sequence of the tasks performed, but also the relationships among the control objects. It supports project-tracking function of progress reporting, using earned-value method. It can also be applied to support forecasting time and cost at completion as well as reasoning about unacceptable performance.

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