Transnational Research Associates
An engineering consulting firm is retained by a governmental client to design and supervise construction of a major industrial facility. The consulting firm is comprised of an administrative department and a technical division. Administrators are responsible for all financial and client-interface duties; whereas the engineering personnel must fulfill all technical functions. One engineer who is in a high-echelon position within the technical division decides to assume administrative duties, convincing a number of fellow-engineers to follow him in this rebellious action. A decision must be made by the Board of Directors, in conjunction with the administrative branch, to terminate, or not, the "valued" engineer's employment. Many qualitative factors must be weighed, including the net loss of his services and the possibility that he may encourage several engineers to defect, if he is terminated. After due deliberation and careful analysis of the issues, the Board decides in favor of the Administrative branch and fires the rebellious engineer, with little defection resulting among other engineers. There were no quantitative factors involved here, other than the number of engineers who were at risk of defecting. This decision would have implications for me in a future career situation where, as an Industrial Manager, I may be called upon to enforce company policy and procedure. Under these circumstances, I would know that it was the "right" thing to uphold company organizational policies.
The demands of a major construction project require precise coordination of the project mobilization schedule. Advance tactical planning is essential to establish the "worker build-up curve" as demands for manpower increase to their height or apogee. The actual number of employee-workers, as well as their skill levels, must be timed and implemented in accordance with the tactically planned schedule. So, as construction progresses to peak-activity levels, the number and quality of
workers must also increase. Quantitative methods are very much a part of this tactical planning process. Such planning is indispensable to on-time project completion. Many techniques can be used, including the GANTT, CPM and time-motion methods, adapted for use under quantitatively specific circumstances. In this instance, quantitative calculations are an important part of tactical planning, and are used to determine the numbers of workers required at any given stage of project construction, as sketched on Figure I, below.
Vertical Axis: Number of Employees
Horizontal Axis: Time Frame
This methodology, although fairly straightforward, is useful in planning workload demands and in properly staffing construction projects. I would find its quantitative aspects useful on future project work which I might be managing on overseas assignments.