5. Industry introduction

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As our Junior Environmental Planner, you will be working on the Inland Rail’s Narromine to Narrabri project. Here is what you need to know about the project:

As you skimmed through the project brief, did you wonder how a project like this is pulled together? 

A lot goes into executing such a large scale project, and it requires you to be able to look at what’s coming next. Being able to look at a task, and plan all the steps you need to take to tackle it is an important skill that can be learnt through understanding project management techniques.

What is project management?

Coined as the science and art of organization, project management can be characterised as a series of connected efforts designed to achieve a desired outcome. 

A project involves 5 stages. Watch this video about the stages of a project to get a better understanding of what's involved. 

There are many types of project management methodologies used. In construction and infrastructure, a commonly used method is the critical path method (CPM). Here is what your mentor, Marshneil has to say about critical paths (CP).

What is a critical path?

“““  A critical path is the longest path (a sequence of activities) to the end of the project and has no slack (or float) time available. Critical path activities are the tasks that have to start and finish on time, to ensure the project finishes as per the project’s schedule. If there is a delay to any critical path activity, there will be a delay to the end of the project. ”””  ~ Marshneil Sharma (Mentor)

Critical paths include:

  • A list of all the essential tasks needed for project completion.
  • The dependencies between the tasks- what tasks need to be completed before the task at hand can be completed
  • The estimate of the time required for each task leading to completion.

Example of a simple critical path:

Here is an example of what the critical path would look like for someone building a house:

When making a critical path and outlining your tasks, you have to ask yourself:

  1. How long will each task take before my team can finish the project
  2. In what order will the tasks need to be completed
  3. How will this factor into scheduling the projects end-date
  4. If my tasks take longer than I thought, will I need to push the end date or should I figure out what I will need to add to my path to meet the deadline (e.g. reevaluate the budget).

Understanding the critical path method will let you efficiently carry out your project. Move onto the next step to start using this method.