There is a lot of thought and planning that goes into any apartment building complex or building. The depth and breadth of the project will obviously depend on the facets and traits of the desired finished project. This would include the planned amenities, constraints, resources, budget, and plans for the complex. The goal of this project is to have a complex that meets the needs of the tenants and residents in a thoughtful, logical and mindful way. At the same time, the money should be well-spent, the project should come together in a timely fashion and everything should be within the plans and on budget. While there are a lot of ways to do an apartment complex, there are some ways that are better than others, and those better ways shall be a focal point of this project.
The first and most important thing to have in place, or to have ready when the time comes, is to have the proper permits, plans and so forth logged with the appropriate inspection and other agencies with local and other governments. Just a few examples of this would include zoning, inspections for final product (e.g. electrical, etc.) and so forth. The proper developmental applications and verifications of completed work should all be done in advance or should be ready to be done when the appropriate time comes. Further, whether required by law or not, the plans and desired timelines of the project should all be defined in advance. This would include a great amount of specificity when it comes to what will be done at what time, what materials will be used, what order things will be done in, what contractors or subcontractors will be doing what tasks and beyond. This is not to say that things cannot or should not be changed as things go on. There are things that can come up and there is the possibility that things will need to change. However, the vast majority of items should be known and planned for in advance. If there is a change, it must be decided with the proper amount of due diligence and forethought. All changes should be fully documented when it comes to both internal and filed/public documents for the project.
The next item to be done would be the preparation of the site. This would include making sure that the areas for the buildings are properly leveled, that the other areas for paving and otherwise changing (e.g. sidewalks, parking lots/stalls, etc.) are properly ready and so forth. If there is any need to regrade the area so as to make it level or otherwise ready for the project, that should generally be done first. There is the possibility that dirt/material will need to be leveled, removed, or added so as to make sure that everything is sufficiently level and able to accept what is to come. There is also the need to ensure that the drainage and flow of rainwater is done the right way when the time comes. Generally speaking, water should flow away from buildings (not towards them) and towards the infrastructure of the city that is (or will be) present to manage it. In other words, rain and other wastewater of the area should move away from building and into the gutters and drains that are already present (e.g. on the street) or that will be when all is said and done. Any debris or other materials present in the soil should be dealt with in advance if at all possible. For example, if a part of the soil is very rocky and/or otherwise problematic and this will present a problem for the project, that should be fixed early by removing a sufficient layer of the problem area and replacing it with the appropriate type and amount of dirt, sand, gravel, or whatever material would be appropriate for the purpose and area for which it is needed.
There is the need to focus on group amenities and issues for the people that live in the apartment. Perhaps the simplest solution when it comes to the United States Postal Service would be to have a single bank of email boxes at a singular location in the building, or at least nearby. For FedEx and UPS packages, those can be accepted by the office and doled out to the authorized residents (or their representatives) when someone comes to pick them up.
Pricing and Estimation Techniques Employed
When it comes to a project of any size, the cost elements of a project are the main thing that lead to the totality of the cost. Whether it is direct labor, indirect labor, materials or overhead, there are certain costs that must be attributed to the project. The aggregate level of these costs will depend on the labor required to do the job, when the job must be completed, the totality of the direct and indirect costs elements that are needed, the time horizon that is allowed for or demanded as part of the project and so forth. There is also the factor of project bidding and competition. The presence of competitors can obviously lead to pressure on margins and profits. Even with the challenges that exist, there is a way to protect margins while at the same time presenting a quality and informed bid to a potential customer.
There are four main cost elements that are in play. Those four types are materials, equipment, labor and overhead. Overhead is broken down into two major types, those being fixed and variable. Just a few examples of overhead would include rent, property taxes, utility costs, insurance, interest on business loans, marketing, advertising, depreciation and office supplies. Labor is also broken down into two smaller groups, those being direct and indirect labor. Direct labor is labor that is directly engaged with the actual production for the project. Tasks that are typically linked to direct labor would include fabrication, installation and equipment setting. Indirect labor would include supporting activities, engineering, supervision of employees and so forth. Equipment is what it sounds like. Equipment is the mechanical equipment that is used as part of the project. It would always be an example of a direct cost as it is something the direct labor personnel would use to complete the job. Finally, there was the material cost type. There are direct materials and indirect materials. Direct materials would include raw material issued or purchased, material that is transferred from one cost center to another and primary packing material. Indirect materials would be items used for the maintenance of equipment and any material with a very low cost (Cost Management, 2017).
There are costs that are absorbed no matter how long the project goes on and they are not part of the work itself. As one can see, there is a litany of costs and cost types. Some are fairly easy to manage and control while others are a necessary part of things no matter what is done or not done. Estimating and adding those up is necessary as it is part of the total cost of the project and, thus, the bid that is extended to the customer or potential customer. As noted before, a competitive bid process can lead to margins and bids being driven down even if the prices involved are pushing upward. The project bidding personnel need to know what things will really cost the firm and then translate that into a bid that is still attractive to the customer as compared to any other bids that might be present. It should be understood that keeping the bid low is important but going too low can lead to money being lost. Once the bid is committed to, the customer will expect it to be honored unless there is a clear and proven deviation from the facts and factors that are informing the bid. Further, a low bid, in and of itself, does not mean that the bid is the best. Suspiciously low bids, after all, are a red flag and for more than one reason (Cost Management, 2017).
Cost estimating techniques vary, and with good reason. What cost estimation techniques are needed will inevitably vary based on what is going on. Just a few methods that can be used would include resource costing, unit costing, empirical methods and historical costing. When it comes to this IT project, there will be a bit of variance from item to item. For example, resource costing would be called for when it comes to things like equipment, materials and labor. After all, the labor to install network cabling and such will come at a certain hourly rate. Unit costing could come into play when it comes to subcontractor jobs and smaller parts of the project. For example, installing the networking cable for a closet or certain part of the building might be done by a certain subcontractor. That area could be priced based on the cabling that will be needed, the square footage or something else like that. Empirical and historical costing can be a shortcut of sorts in that they are compared to similar projects that have happened in the past. For example, if the networking room just mentioned is identical (or very close) to a similar job that was done in the past, it can be contracted out or billed to the client based on what occurred on the prior project as the cost is already known. Sure, there can be recalibration and changes made to such bids if there are distinct and important differences. However, there is no need for wasted or repeated motions if the result is already known.
At the same time, one must understand that pricing out work can be problematic as the subcontractor will expect to be paid even if the costs balloon higher than what is originally planned for. Having things planned for in advance and defining who will be responsible for cost overruns is extremely important. If the subcontractor makes a mistake, they should be made to own that. The primary contractor needs to make sure that the work is ready to be completed and that the cost or time plans for a project are set in stone and properly planned for before subcontract work is started (Markgraf, 2017). There may also be the need to do a lot of manual intervention and work. Regardless, that must be defined in advance with great precision and specificity. Ambiguity and vagueness in any agreement will just lead to problems. If either party is not sure of what is expected or required, that should be hashed out before any work is started. Similar things can be said for the infrastructure that is used. Whatever is agreed upon and decided should match with what is done later on. If this is done properly, the customer cannot complain about any perceived differences and the project management team cannot cut corners by using cheaper materials or items. Preventing any ability to complain or claim things were not done right or well can be solved with the right precision.
The learning Curve
The learning curve represents a graphical representation of the output- cost link across a definite time, typically for indicating any staff memberâ€™s repetitive tasks. Hermann Ebbinghaus, psychologist, first introduced this idea in the year 1885, utilizing it for predicting expenditure and gauging productivity. With respect to its visual depiction, a sharper slope implies early learning leads to increased cost- effectiveness; later learning leads to progressively tougher and slower cost- effectiveness.
The other terms used to indicate a learning curve include â€˜productivity curveâ€™, â€˜experience curveâ€™, â€˜cost curveâ€™, and â€˜efficiency curveâ€™, as it offers understandings and measurement of every organizational component (Mohamad, 2017). Its premise is, all workers, irrespective of the role they play in an organization, need a certain span of time for learning how a given responsibility or role is meant to be performed. Generating the required output is also time- consuming. Further, with repetition of an activity, the individual will identify ways of completing it in a shorter time, thereby decreasing the time required to generate one unit of the product (or output) (Mohamad, 2017).
The above explanation accounts for the initial downward slope of the learning curve and the subsequent flat slope (total yield (X- axis); expense for one unit (Y- axis)) (See Diagram 1 Below). With increased learning, per unit expenditure for producing the result reduces at first prior to flattening out. The flattening out occurs since increasing efficiencies acquired by means of learning grows tougher.
Learning Curve Theory
When production amount increases twofold, production expense undergoes a constant rate of decline. This forms the foundation of the learning curve. A noteworthy point is that, with increase in production amount to twofold the initial amount, absolute expenditure rise undergoes a continual decrease, though at a constant pace.
The learning curveâ€™s features are:
Â· Development and application of improved tooling techniques
Â· Development and adoption of more equipment for achieving increased production
Â· Identification and correction of design bugs
Â· Accomplishment of improved design via design engineering with the aim to decrease labor and material related expenditure
Â· Potential decreased rejections and alterations
This leads to:
a) Need for decreased staff
b) Smaller quantity of material
c) Production of more units of output using the very same tools
Â· Decreased time loss due to delays, in addition to decreased per unit expenses and increased yield
Consider the diagram depicted above. The graphâ€™s X axis represents batches/ lots of products manufactured while its Y axis depicts labor hours necessary for each lot of product manufactured. Clearly, more labor hours are needed for individual batch manufacturing, initially. In case of subsequent batches, lesser labor hours are needed. According to the diagram, roughly 4 labor hours are needed for manufacturing the initial batch, that for the secondâ€™s manufacture is about a couple of hours, and the figure reduces further for each subsequent batch of product manufactured. Diagram 3 and table 1 may help provide additional explanations for this impact (Brookfield, 2005).
Effect of the learning curve on project scheduling
Malyusz (2016) states that whole learning constitutes a crucial component of life, it is not possible for the conventional scheduling method to effectively address learning curve impacts. The time for imminent repeated actions is supposedly shorter because learning curve impacts if a sufficiently short gap exists between successive activities (Malyusz, 2016). The learning curve idea may be adopted in forecasting time and cost for accomplishing recurrent tasks. Considering the experience curve/ learning curve impacts, it is possible to achieve a better estimation of project time, thereby helping achieve time and cost savings (Malyusz, 2016). Usually, this impact leads to decreased time period for project completion. Despite the perceived simplicity of the impact, it entails cumbersome calculations when employed in case of the Critical Path Method, Precedence Diagramming Method and other similar conventional project scheduling methods, owing to the fact that calculations result in exponential time algorithms (Malyusz, 2016).
Malyuszâ€™s 2016 research looks into the impact of learning curve on the time period of completion of a project within an endeavor scheduling system. Real issues as well as tests were examined in order for gauging the degree of impact. The hypothesis was: aggregate learning impacts of initiative related tasks may lead to a one to three percent project duration decrease. Owing to the extremely slow exponential time algorithm in case of real world problems, it is vital to achieve additional heuristic algorithm development (Malyusz, 2016). Moreover, an examination of impact of learning on project expenditure constitutes an intriguing subject of study as well, warranting additional exploration. Lastly, Malyusz (2016) revealed the need for further examinations in the area of historical edifice maintenance and renovation efforts.
The same personnel perform activities E and B, whose initial time of completion may be taken as ten days. FS0 denotes individual relationships. Time analysis outcomes reveal that B culminates on the 15th day after project commencement and E commences on the 18th day, implying a two- day gap between the two activities. (As mentioned earlier, the tasksâ€™ activity times are ten days). In case of a single dayâ€™s gap between them, consider the 2nd task to have a duration of 9 days.
Cumulative Average Curve
As per Brookfieldâ€™s (2005) work, scholars normally perfectly understand the learning curveâ€™s basic principle: if repetitive activities are carried out, time for successive activity completion decreases until no further decrease is possible (Brookfield, 2005). This relates to the following main management accounting domains: standard costing and cost estimation.
Brookfield (2005) reveals that, at first, learning curves are linked to the association between cumulative average times (CAT) and amounts (overall cumulative time/ cumulative amount). Table 1 demonstrates the above linkage. One must note the fact that, with a twofold rise in cumulative amount, a twenty percent reduction in CAT is achieved (Brookfield, 2005). That is, one may obtain successive CATs through multiplication of prior CATs by eighty percent (Brookfield, 2005). The above example explains the 80% learning curve. Learning curves are addressed based on percentage, depending on the CAT linkages when cumulative amounts are twofold (Brookfield, 2005). If, for instance, CAT is 1,000 hours in case of the very first unitâ€™s manufacture, 700 hours in case of the next unitâ€™s manufacture, 490 hours in case of the 4th unit, 343 hours in case of the 8th unit, and so forth, the learning curve would be a 70% learning curve.
Cumulative production time
production time per unit
Follow up on orders
One may describe follow- up as â€œthe supervision and assessment of initiative effects for managing its performance and delivering relevant communicationâ€ (SSWM, 2010). But for avoiding overlap with the stages of participatory supervision, assessment, maintenance and operations, the ideas listed below will be emphasized: 1) Follow- up in the form of spin- off endeavor, which may be described as an initiative which builds on or takes advantage of prior initiatives or repeats an already performed work (SSWM, 2010). 2) Follow- up in the form of internal observation of completed initiatives: constant activity tracking by implementers of the initiative, and potential improvements made to the current initiative.
Diagram 4: 6 phases of project management
Despite it extreme significance, people tend to frequently overlook the stage of project follow- up. At this stage, all aspects necessary for successfully completing a given initiative are arranged. For instance, this stage covers the tasks of drafting handbooks, offering user training and instruction, help desk establishment, penning of project report, outcome maintenance, actual project assessment, team disbandment upon successful project completion, celebrating project completion, and transference to directors. At this stage, the key question deals with the time and place of project culmination. It is a widespread joke among project managers that any given initiativeâ€™s initial 90 percent gets completed swiftly. However, for completing the remaining 10 percent, it may take even years for the project team. Project limits ought to be considered at the projectâ€™s commencement, in order for achieving effective project closure during follow- up, after reaching the aforementioned established limits.
As interruptions to the project may end up frustrating budget makers, it is vital to achieve trade- offs between its requirements. With regard to the above, one may consider the learning curve to be an important tool for ensuring product inefficiencies, expenditure and lead times are minimized. Delays that result from interruptions in production may be reduced to a minimum by means of increasing efficiency during the production follow up stage. Regular maintenance and repairs may help alleviate the issue of potential pauses in the production process. These sorts of pauses, inefficient project planning, natural calamities, economic conditions, political conditions, an inadequate budget, and so forth can lead to projects not achieving completion at the scheduled time.
According to Malyuszâ€™s 2016 study, the learning curve does, in fact, represent a sound instrument to help achieve efficiency with regard to a given project. But despite the above fact, there is a limit to increased efficiency and it is hardly possible to exceed this limit. It is here that economies of scale, technological advances, inventions, core competencies and other aspects play a part. Clearly, the learning curve facilitates project efficacy increases.
Arline, K. (2015). Direct Costs vs. Indirect Costs: Understanding Each. Business News Daily. Retrieved 16 December 2017, from https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5498-direct-costs-indirect-costs.html
Brookfield, B. (2005). Management Accounting – Decision Management. Financial Management. Retrieved 1, January, 2018, from http://www.cimaglobal.com/Documents/ImportedDocuments/fm_april_05_p44-47.pdf
Cost Management. (2017). Cost accounting: 4 essential elements. Costmanagement.eu.Retrieved 16 December 2017, from http://www.costmanagement.eu/blog-article/cost-accounting-4-essential-elements
Krawczyk, G. (2015). Developing a Meaningful Labor Cost Estimate. Retrieved 16 December 2017, from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2015/4/developing-a-meaningful-labor-cost-estimate
Markgraf, B. (2017). Project Management Cost Estimating Techniques. Smallbusiness.chron.com. Retrieved 16 December 2017, from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/project-management-cost-estimating-techniques-40508.html
Malyusz, L. (2016). Learning Curve Effect on Project Scheduling. In Procedia Engineering. Retrieved 1, January, 2018, from https://ac.els-cdn.com/S1877705817331211/1-s2.0- S1877705817331211-main.pdf
Mohamad, J.Y. (2017). Learning Curves: Theory, Models, and Applications. CRC Pr I Llc.
Serbu, M. (2017). 5 Important Elements of Project Cost Management Tools | Business.org. Business.org. Retrieved 16 December 2017, from https://www.business.org/finance/cost-management/important-elements-of-project-cost-management-tools/
SSWM (2010). Follow-up of Projects, Sustainable Sanitation and Water Management. Retrieved 1, January, 2018, from https://www.sswm.info/content/follow-projects
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