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Title: Planning systems for small firms
Author: Salter, Mark
Awarding Body: Sheffield City Polytechnic
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 1989
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A study was carried out into the planning practices of four small building firms through interviews and questionnaires. The techniques of systems analysis were used to model the information flows through the firms. These revealed the firms to suffer from problems of integration between planning and other functions. The breakdown of the work for one function often did not suit the purposes of others. Project data often had to be regenerated. The firms did not evaluate their performance systematically in a way that would be of benefit to future contracts. A specification for a new system was developed to eliminate these deficiencies and to take advantage of the power of the microcomputer. The system derived data from the estimate. A work breakdown structure allowed the integration of planning, targeting, progress reporting, reporting of hours, and valuations. The database of estimate operations was maintained through an analysis of timesheets. Information for the scheduling of materials and subcontractors could be derived from the resulting programme. The small firms problem of integrating the demands imposed by a fluctuating workload on a relatively inflexible labour supply was considered. The use of decision rules to resolve conflicts through the levelling of a multiproject schedule was investigated. A large number of rules were developed using a spreadsheet operating in conjunction with a planning package. These were tested on a number of prototype workloads and assessed by various criteria. After further development a consistently good rule was found. This rule, and that encoded within the planning software, were applied to the levelling of the workload of one of the collaborating firms at various stages of progress over a three month period. The new rule continued to perform well. The feasibility of deriving planning data direct from the estimate, and of using timesheet data both to update programmes and to evaluate performance was demonstrated. The firms' methods of materials procurement and handling were investigated. It was found that their collection of materials from suppliers was poorly organised.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available