Project Management Institute

Cost-integrated project network planning using expert systems

By integrating cost into analyses of project networks, project managers can more effectively control a project's resources. But doing so is often difficult because today's organizational cost structures are complex and include several factors that influence project implementation, factors such as variable interest rates, inflation, technology changes, work breakdown structures (WBS), and cost estimating. This article examines the emerging technology of expert systems (ES) that enables project managers to analyze cost by integrating multiple cost factors. It explains ES's function and three categories--data structure, knowledge base, and inference engine--and the ways that ES differs from tradition decision support systems. It then details the four stages of developing a network cost analysis and the ten advantages of implementing such an analysis; it lists four questions that ES can address and five computations it can provide.
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