ESD.36 | Fall 2012 | Graduate

System Project Management

Lecture Notes


L1 Course Introduction (PDF)

Instructor, TA and Student Introductions, Course Objectives, Course Administration, Terms and Definitions, Course Framework.


L2 Critical Path Method (PDF)

CPM, Gantt Charts, Critical Path Identification, Focus on Parallel and Sequential Task Dependencies, Total Slack, Free Slack.

3 L3 Critical Chain Method: Project Crashing and its Consequences, Critical Chain Method, DSM to Critical Chain Linking, Application to U.S. Navy Shipyard Projects.

L4 Design Structure Matrix (DSM) (PDF)

Work Breakdown Structures (WBS), Introduction to Design Structure Matrices (DSM), Sequencing, Partitioning and Tearing.

Sample DSMs (XLSX)


L5 Managing Iterations with DSM (PDF)

Use of DSM’s in a Project Management Context, Sequential and Parallel Iteration Models, Process Analysis and Redesign.


L6 Introduction to Project Dynamics (PDF)

Introduction to System and Project Dynamics, “Soft” and “Hard” Tools, Causal Loop Diagrams, Cause-Effect Relationships, Stocks and Flows, Productivity and Quality.


L7 The Rework Cycle (PDF)

Causes of Project Dynamics, Key Concept: “The Rework Cycle”, Notion of Feedbacks and Knock-on Effects, Connection between CPM, DSM and System Dynamics.


L8 Project Dynamics Simulation (PDF)

Quantitative Modeling of Project Dynamics, Introduction to Vensim, Model Calibration and Parameter Estimation, Simulation Execution, Interpretation of Simulation Results.


L9 Probabilistic Scheduling (PDF - 1.7MB)

PERT, Probabilistic Scheduling, Beta Distributions for Task Durations, In-Class Experiment, Project Discrete Event Simulation, Monte Carlo Simulations with System Dynamics.


L10 Budgeting and Cost Control (PDF)

Resource consumption, cost and time, progress monitoring: perceived vs. real progress, Cost Schedule Status Reporting, Earned Value Management (EVM).


L11 Risk Management (PDF)

Identifying layers of risk in projects, Risk Identification, Tracking and Mitigation with Risk Register and Risk Matrix, Integrating Engineering, Financial, and Strategic Perspectives, Real options on projects, Real options in projects, NPV Analysis, IRR, Value at Risk and Gain (VARG curves). Practical examples: parking garage, communications satellites; oil field development.


L12 Project Strategic Issues (PDF)

How to proactively manage Project Dynamics, Initiation of Dynamics; De-scoping, Schedule Adjustments, Staffing Strategies, Staff and Schedule Dynamics, Variations on the Basic Rework Cycle.

13 Case 1: Construction Project. In this case we will discuss the challenges involved in managing large civil engineering, infrastructure and construction projects such as tunnels, bridges, airports etc.
14 Case 2: Aerospace Project. A guest lecturer will expose the challenges of large aerospace projects such as launch vehicle design, long duration space missions and the design and/or the operation of constellations of communications satellites.
15 Case 3: Software Project. A guest lecturer will discuss the peculiarities of managing software development projects, including subjects such as rapid prototyping versus waterfall, extreme programming, and the reasons why a large fraction of software projects fail.

L13 Project Dynamics Case Studies (PDF - 1.1MB)

Industrial Case Studies, Uses of System Dynamics Models in Practice for Project Preparation and Planning, Strategic vs. Operational Decisions, and for post-Project Litigation. Model Calibration with Data. Discuss Vensim Simulation Assignment.


L14 Humans and Projects (PDF)

Requirements for Project Managers, Personality Tests and Profiles (e.g. MBTI), Impact of Corporate Culture and Incentive Structures, Typical Project Manager Profiles (Class Survey Results.)

18 Case 4: Student Selected Project. Students will vote and select the fourth case study among a selected list.

L15 Organizations and Projects (PDF)

Influence, Matrix and Dedicated Project Organizations, Alignment of Task, Product and Organizational Architectures (DSM Overlap), IPTs.


L16 Complexity in Project Organizations

This lecture is based on Prof. Braha’s research in complex design and structure of product development and other social organizations.


L17 Managing International Projects

Impact of Globalization on Project Management, Model of International (Project) Management, Practical Aspects of Configuration, Coordination and Cooperation, Cultural Issues.


L18: Multi-Project Program Management (PDF - 1.8MB)

Multi-project resource management and conflicts, queuing and resource prioritization, principles of program management, contrasting roles and responsibilities of project and program managers.


L19 Guest Lecture on Project Management Resources (PDF - 2.9MB)

Overview of Project Management Software tools, online, distributed PM environments, Integrated Concurrent Engineering (ICE) environments, Project Management Institute (PMI), Project Management Standards and Certifications.

24 Project Presentation (Part 1)—formal class presentations by student SPM project teams (approximately 20 minutes per team, including Q&A session.)
25 Project Presentation (Part 2)—formal class presentations by student SPM project teams (approximately 20 minutes per team, including Q&A session.)

L20 Class Summary—Success Factors (PDF)

Summarize Class Content, Review Learning Objectives, Present Student Survey Results, Discuss strategic, tactical and operational factors that have influenced project success and failure in the past, class evaluation.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2012
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Projects with Examples
Design Assignments