Linear programming is a tool, the application of which, to a set of variables, is expected to optimize the resources under a define set of constraints. This essentially means that linear programming helps to ascertain the optimum resources that would be needed to produce a certain output when there are certain limitations to the transformation process (from input to output). In a production process, the inputs will be the human resources available, the quantity of raw materials available (Graves, 1999). The limitations will be on the number of hours the machine can be operational, the limit on the efficiency of the work force, the availability of the raw material (that can impact the ideal state of the machine and the workforce), the output received in an hour or a day from the machine.
Given a set of inputs, a set of constraints (as mentioned above), what would be the optimum value of the output that can be derived. A set of constraints in the transformation system become very complex to handle and analyse in order to determine the optimized value of output. Application of linear procedural programming helps in simplifying the process, identifying the optimized value of the output for the least value of the costs possible (through optimized use of resources, raw materials, equipment etc.).
Linear programming can be used by the managers to assess the prices and the volumes of the production, given the constraints that will help them in achieving the profit maximization objective of the company. Applying linear programming to business specific environment with given resource constraint, the expected output from the production process and the timeliness in achieving the output will help the project managers to assess in a practical manner what would be the true picture of target achievement. Thus, linear programming helps in giving an accurate analysis to achieve maximum profits, minimum costs under a set of given constraints of resources.
An organization has various complex projects that are being planned on an ongoing basis. These projects may not only be critical but may also be sensitive to time. For such complex projects it becomes vital to understand the activities that would have to be completed to accomplish the bigger picture that is the project itself (Critical Path Analysis, n.d.). After understanding the activities, it would help to understand how each of these activities is inter-dependent on the others. Once the dependency between the lists of activities is assessed, the critical activities are shortlisted and the longest and the shortest paths to reach the completion of the project are evaluated. Critical Path Analysis is a key project management tool that helps in tuning the systems to achieve efficiency and effectiveness by taking a diligent approach in execution by reaching the completion phase. This is achieved by processing through critical steps of the project. An analysis of the furniture supplier follows for a better understanding:
|List of activities||Duration||Dependency|
||1 week||B, D, E|
Network Analysis helps to reduce the risk in complex projects. It provides the managers with an overview of the project and helps them make better decisions, plan in advance etc. Network analysis helps to uncover any dependencies within the project. It helps to organize the complex data and helps in making better decision. The critical path analysis helps in identifying the critical aspects of a project and how every aspect is linked to other aspects. Optimizing these critical paths by identification of the path which is accomplished in the minimum time possible is a key feature of a critical path analysis.
Operations planning and control is a necessity in the production process. Planning is required for taking an organized and visionary approach to production to meet the market demand. Based on the demand forecasted, a production plan with clearly defined timelines and resources will enable the production to be timely achieved, with least defects, and minimum costs involved. Without a planned and controlled approach the production costs may become difficult to estimate or control. This in effect will tremendously increase the expenses and further pressurize the margins (Rao, 2009). Planning is a pre-requisite for a production process. The clarity about the suppliers of the raw material, their strengths and their weakness, the costs involved, the logistics and the manpower required will all determine the robustness of the transformation of the raw material to finished goods.
However, there is no guarantee to the potential of the operational planning and control in ensuring smooth operations. This is due to the truly dynamic nature of the market structure. Changing consumer needs, competitor reactions, price hikes, sudden unavailability of raw material, natural calamities, government policies, regulatory and compliance untimely disorders, all add up to the uncertainties that impact the production process. Despite these challenges, planning and control must be incorporated with capable project managers to oversee the timely accuracy and to report possible delays and tactical steps to overcome losses due to the delays (Planning and Control, n.d.). A planned and controlled operational approach will enhance the productivity and result in a more focused production. Random operation without any contingencies or knowledge about the running of the process will only slacken the confidence of the resources that are part of the production process.
Taking a furniture supplying company as an example, a lucidly defined set of operational outcomes can be as follows:
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