Process Simulation and Parametric Modeling for Strategic Project Management

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So instead of hunting down and acquiring, say literary timeless classics, you can aquire an eBook bundle which contains all these types of ebooks bundled together. The notice for man-made disasters can range from zero for accidents to various time periods for terrorist-planned incidents based on the quality and nature of intelligence. The response to such events involves a myriad of agencies, including government agencies at local, state, and federal level; non-governmental non-profit organizations, such as the American Red Cross; and commercial entities brought in under contracting arrangements for the response.

Figure 1 shows a list of core agencies that are involved in response to a major disaster per the National Response Plan In addition to the core staffing, a number of other organizations may be involved.

Parametric Modelling

A tremendous amount of coordination is required among these agencies to ensure that the constrained resources are effectively utilized. It has been reported that, following Hurricane Katrina, there were cases when six helicopters showed up in response to one rescue call while several other calls for rescue were waiting for long periods of time! Such poor coordination further reduces the effectiveness of the constrained resources and causes poor morale among the responders and the affected population.

Figure 1. List of core organizations involved in emergency response.

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Adapted from pages of the National Response Plan, Dec. The characteristic of major disasters that is of perhaps the most concern to project management discipline is the lack of time available for planning the response effort. As mentioned above, the available time from the notification of the imminent event to its occurrence may range from none to a few days.

Strategic Planning using Project Management Tools and Techniques, by Jim Fette

The short time available does not allow for development of a detailed project plan after or just before the impending occurrence of a disaster. The need for planning ahead of time has been recognized by the U. Department of Homeland Security as evident from the recently released National Response Plan and other related documents. While these documents are a step in the right direction, they are intended for use at a very high level and are designed for describing the responsibility structure across all major disasters.

They are not intended to be, and are indeed nowhere close to, what project management professionals will deem a project plan. However, ultimately that is what is needed — a project plan that can be used to integrate and coordinate the actions of the many agencies involved in the response. This paper proposes a parametric approach to emergency response project management.

Because the short time available between the notification and actual occurrence of major disasters does not allow for planning the response effort, parametrized plans should be created ahead of time for the range of potential disasters that may occur. Each potential scenario needs to be studied, and the characteristics that determine its magnitude and its impact should be categorized. Project plans should be developed that are based on a number of likely scenarios and that can be adjusted based on the magnitude of the disaster.

For example, a set of generic project plans can be created for large hurricanes that a region may face. Upon the occurrence of the hurricane, the emergency response organizations would feed the characteristics of the impending system into the parametric project management system.

This may include data such as the intensity of the hurricane category using the Saffir-Simpson scale , the expected wind speeds, the storm surge, etc. The parametric approach would use these parameters to then select the applicable activities in the plan and adjust the resources required for each activity. It may use the estimates of the number of households affected in the hurricane landfall zone to determine the activities, time, and resources required for evacuation; for providing shelter to the displaced population; for addressing the special needs of disabled population; for providing law and order in the evacuated areas, etc.

These quickly generated plans can then be used for gathering and implementing the response to the hurricane. The development of parametric project plans is a technically challenging endeavor. Even more critical than the technical challenge of developing the parametric project plans is the challenge of gaining the confidence of emergency response community in the plans generated by such a system.


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This paper presents an approach for development of such plans that includes the addressing of technical and organization cultural challenges. A key aspect of the approach is based on the use of modeling and simulation of the disasters and the response. The simulation can be used to iteratively evaluate and improve the parametric system's capability to develop the project plans. More importantly, the same simulations can be used to train the emergency responders and their managers in executing the emergency response based on the generated plans.

This will help gain the confidence of the emergency response personnel in the parametric project planning system, in addition to training them for such eventualities. The next section of the paper discusses the question of applicability of project management principles to emergency response. Related prior research related to the topic is briefly reviewed in the following section. The proposed approach for the development of the parametric project planning system for emergency response is presented next.

The approach includes utilizing the relevant documents released by the U. Department of Homeland Security. The challenges in carrying out such a development are then discussed. A simulation test bed is proposed for iterative evaluation and improvements of the parametric project plans. Suggestions are provided for addressing the cultural issues in the implementation of the proposed parametric project planning system. Finally, the paper concludes with a call for initiating the proposed development.

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Can emergency response be managed as a project? The details of the emergency response are determined based on the unique impact of the incident; hence, it provides a unique service. In addition to the above characteristics, emergency response also can be defined in terms of triple constraints. While the time constraints may not be explicitly defined, there are definite goals for providing the emergency response in a rapid manner in a reasonable time.

Similarly, while cost is not of concern when lives are at stake, there is a constraint on the resources based on availability, and at times due to controlled access to the affected area. The performance is usually set out as goals on minimizing the impact of the incident in terms of number of casualties, delivering rapid care to casualties, and minimizing damage to property.

Even if it is not defined publicly in terms of numbers, the community has expectations about the role of emergency responders in these terms. It is clear from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that society had expectations about the performance of emergency response efforts, and dismay followed the failure of authorities to meet those expectations. Project management principles may already be utilized for emergency response even though they may not be formally recognized as such.

People with long experience develop an understanding of the activities required in responding to an emergency, and also the general sequence in which these activities should be executed. They utilize their experience to prioritize the tasks and deploy resources accordingly. A formal Gantt chart may not have been developed at the outset, but the Wreckmaster used the concept based on his experience to successfully plan and execute the response. Unfortunately, there are few people available with 24 years of experience in all aspects of the operations, and the managerial skill, as was the case with the Wreckmaster in the reported case discussion.

Application of project management principles to emergency response is called for because of the clear need for improvement in such efforts. Project management has been identified as the integration of multiple functions, teams, and activities in an endeavor; and, as discussed in the previous section, there is definitely a need for integration of multiple organizations and their roles and responsibilities in emergency response. A strong potential for conflict exists in any effort with a number of matrixed resources.

Effective project management minimizes the conflict and, with the clear definition of activities and timelines, allows individuals to take advantage of the synergy among diverse resources. Emergency response organizations are themselves highly matrixed, as can be seen from the proposed organization structure for coordination of the National Response Plan in Figure 2.

Application of project management principles will thus reduce the potential for conflicts in the highly matrixed response organization. The recognition of the applicability of project management principles to emergency response will provide the opportunity to apply project management body of knowledge and improve the effectiveness of the effort.

It will also provide the opportunity to use project management for guiding utilization of information technology. The previous section listed the number of organizations that form the core of the emergency response effort. A larger number of organizations and unorganized civil volunteers typically get involved in the effort. Application of project management principles will provide the vehicle to utilize the larger team in a coordinated fashion.

Figure 2. Highly matrixed organization for NRP coordination: Terrorist incident. Adapted from page 20 of the National Response Plan, Dec. The recognition of the need for the kind of activities offered by the project management body of knowledge is evident in descriptions of the National Response Plan and the National Incident Management System, even though they are not recognized as such in these documents.

The italicized text above is used to identify the objectives that are exactly among those one would list for effective project management. Again, the italicized text is used to identify the principles that are shared with project management. The two documents, NRP and NIMS, thus can be viewed as another confirmation of the applicability of project management principles to emergency response. Overall, there is a lot to be gained from application of the project management body of knowledge to emergency response. There is limited literature on the use of parametric techniques for project planning.

In their recent survey on the use of project management tools, Besner and Hobbs have found parametric planning to be among the group that sees from very limited-to-limited use in practice.


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  • Orczyk and Chang provide a parametric regression model for the scheduling of construction projects. They used literature and interviews to determine parameters that should be used to determine the scope of the construction effort. A parametric regression model is developed and utilized for project scheduling. MacDonell and Shepperd compared expert judgment, linear regression, and case-based reasoning techniques to optimize effort predictions in software project management.

    They found that performance of the selected techniques was negatively correlated. They concluded that identification of which technique to use under what circumstances was too complex. Our proposed approach is similar in basic concept to these two efforts, although its development is expected to be lot more challenging, given the uniqueness of each emergency response and the limited data available due to the thankfully infrequent occurrence of such events.

    Hernandez and Serrano propose a generic architecture for application of knowledge-based models for emergency management systems. Simulation is integrated within the architecture for evaluation of generated plans. The feasibility of the system is demonstrated using a case study of flood emergencies. Our proposed use of simulation for the evaluation of generated plans from the parametric project planning system is similar in concept to such use by the authors.

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