Activity modes selection for project crashing through deterministic simulation

Abstract: Purpose: The time-cost trade-off problem addressed by CPM-based analytical approaches, assume unlimited resources and the existence of a continuous time-cost function. However, given the discrete nature of most resources, the activities can often be crashed only stepwise. Activity crashing for discrete time-cost function is also known as the activity modes selection problem in the project management. This problem is known to be NP-hard. Sophisticated optimization techniques such as Dynamic Programming, Integer Programming, Genetic Algorithm, Ant Colony Optimization have been used for finding efficient solution to activity modes selection problem. The paper presents a simple method that can provide efficient solution to activity modes selection problem for project crashing.
Design/methodology/approach: Simulation based method implemented on electronic spreadsheet to determine activity modes for project crashing. The method is illustrated with the help of an example.
Findings: The paper shows that a simple approach based on simple heuristic and deterministic simulation can give good result comparable to sophisticated optimization techniques.
Research limitations/implications: The simulation based crashing method presented in this paper is developed to return satisfactory solutions but not necessarily an optimal solution.
Practical implications: The use of spreadsheets for solving the Management Science and Operations Research problems make the techniques more accessible to practitioners. Spreadsheets provide a natural interface for model building, are easy to use in terms of inputs, solutions and report generation, and allow users to perform what-if analysis.
Originality/value: The paper presents the application of simulation implemented on a spreadsheet to determine efficient solution to discrete time cost tradeoff problem.
Keywords: project management, activity crashing, CPM, simulation, optimization
Author: Ashok Mohanty, Jibitesh Mishra, Biswajit Satpathy
Journal Code: jptindustrigg110011

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