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HindawiAdvances in Civil EngineeringVolume 2018, Article ID 9579273, 13 pages ArticleResource Unconstrained and Constrained Project SchedulingProblems and Practices in a Multiproject EnvironmentMarimuthu Kannimuthu ,1,2 Palaneeswaran Ekambaram,1 Benny Raphael,2and Ananthanarayanan Kuppuswamy212Department of Civil and Construction Engineering, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, VIC 3122, AustraliaDepartment of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai 600036, IndiaCorrespondence should be addressed to Marimuthu Kannimuthu; 20 April 2018; Revised 14 May 2018; Accepted 20 May 2018; Published 15 July 2018Academic Editor: Yingbin FengCopyright 2018 Marimuthu Kannimuthu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative CommonsAttribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work isproperly cited.Construction companies execute many projects simultaneously. In such situations, the performance of one project may influencethe others positively or negatively. Construction professionals face difficulties in managing multiple projects in limited resourcesituations. The purpose of this study is to identify the problems in multiproject scheduling from the practitioner’s perspective andto discover current practices under resource unconstrained and constrained settings. The specific objectives are (1) determiningthe most challenging issues being faced in handling multiproject environment, (2) enumerating the practices adopted in theindustry, and finally (3) identifying the practitioners’ perceptions on the multiproject scheduling aspects such as networkmodeling approaches; activity execution modes; concept of sharing, dedicating, and substituting resources; centralized anddecentralized decision-making models; solution approaches; and tools and techniques. An online questionnaire survey wasconducted to address the objectives above. The top challenging issues in managing multiproject environment are identified. Factoranalysis identified the factors by grouping the variables (a) decision-related, (b) project environment-related, (c) projectmanagement-related, and (d) organization-related factors. Resource-unconstrained situation mainly faces the issue of underutilization and wastage of resources leading to lower profit realization. The following findings were identified to overcome theunconstrained resource situation such as identifying the work front, adopting pull planning approach, creating a commonresource pool, and allotting it on a rental basis. On the contrary, resource-constrained situation faces the issues of prioritization ofresources, coordination, communication, collaboration, quality issues, and rework. The findings suggest the strategies such as topup via subcontracting, proactive pull planning, introducing buffers, training the culture of the organization towards bettercommunication, coordination, and collaboration, to improve the reliability of achieving baseline project performances. Variousmultiproject aspects suggested for effective management. The identified problems, practices, and various multiproject aspects areexpected to contribute better management of multiproject resource unconstrained and constrained project scheduling.1. IntroductionOrganizations in the construction industry execute a portfolio of projects under tight time and resource constraints[1]. However, construction management research is dominated by a single-project model [2]. The ability to managemultiple projects in the competitive environment becomesan essential competence [3]. The projects may vary in size,importance, and the skill required at various stages and stilluse the same pool of resources [4]. Multiproject schedulingis a fundamental problem for enterprises to reasonably allocate the limited resources to optimize the performance ofthe project [5]. Herroelen [6] states that even a small improvement in multiproject management will yield a significant benefit to the project management field. More than 90%of all international projects are executed in a multiprojectenvironment [7], and 84% of firms handle such multipleprojects in parallel [8]. Therefore, the identification ofchallenging issues in the multiproject environment is highlybeneficial.

2Advances in Civil 5x6x8x7Project#n(b)Figure 1: Network modeling approaches in the multiproject environment (MPE). (a) Single-project approach. (b) Multiproject approach.The resource-unconstrained project scheduling approachpresents a solution to time-constrained projects. However, therealistic situation involves optimizing multiple conflictingobjectives in a resource-constrained project scheduling environment. The resource-constrained project scheduling problem (RCPSP) presents an extension to the standard CriticalPath Method (CPM) and Program Evaluation and ReviewTechniques (PERT) by including the availability of resources[9]. The resource-constrained multiproject scheduling problem(RCMPSP) [10] and multimode resource-constrained multiproject scheduling problem (MRCMPSP) [11, 12] are theextensions of RCPSPs. The identification of resource unconstrained and constrained project scheduling problemsand practices may lead to better management of themultiproject environment.Yang and Sum [13] proposed the dual-level management structure for managing multiple projects. Projectmanagers are responsible for operating the project activities, whereas upper-level managers work at a moretactical level and are in charge of all the projects andproject managers. Traditionally, the RCMPSPs are solvedwith the assumption of centralized decision making inwhich the resource allocation and scheduling decisionswere made centrally in an integrated manner [14]. Centralized planning model requires complete information ofall the projects so that a satisfactory plan can be obtainedmore quickly. Coordination and communication channelsshould be in a proactive mode for the effective implementation of the centralized model. In practice, the resource allocation and scheduling functions are performedin a decentralized manner. The decentralized model hasadvantages in coordination and fairness among multipleprojects and is more realistic [15, 16].This study aims to identify the main challenges inmultiproject scheduling from the practitioner’s perspectiveand to discover current practices in resource unconstrainedand constrained settings. The remainder of the paper isorganized as follows. Section 2 describes the relevant literature specific to challenges in managing the multiprojectenvironment: resource unconstrained and constrained situations. Section 3 outlines the research methodology to achievethe objectives above, and Section 4 discusses the results ofchallenges in multiproject environment: resource unconstrained and constrained multiproject problems andpractices, and various aspects of multiproject scheduling.Finally, Section 5 describes the concluding remarks andpossible future research directions.2. Studies on MultiprojectScheduling EnvironmentTwo main approaches are followed in the network modelingof multiproject scheduling: single-project approach [17, 18];and multiproject approach [19] (Figure 1). In single-projectapproach, all projects are considered together to forma single critical path with the objective to minimize the totalmakespan (TMS). The single-project approach has severaldrawbacks: (i) it is less realistic and implicitly assumes equaldelay penalties and (ii) in many practical situations, eachproject has its manager who is interested in achieving theindividual project’s performances [19]. In, multiprojectapproach, each project is handled independently with theobjective to minimize the average project delay (APD).In multiproject scheduling, the projects are prioritizedbased on project selection priority rule [10]. Traditionally, allprojects are controlled by one decision maker. Nowadays,

Advances in Civil EngineeringTable 1: Challenges in a multiproject environment ce(s)Division and assignment of[2, 4, 9, 25–27]resources/resource allocationOrganizational culture[26, 27]Management support[4]Prioritization/project selection[4, 25]Real-time monitoring and proactive[23]decision makingCapacity (resource)[7, 24]Complexity (multiple interfaces between the[2, 7]projects)Conflict (people, system, and firm issues)[7]Commitment[4, 7, 24]Context (regulative, normative, and[7, 9, 24]cognitive)Communication[4, 25]Coordination[24]Volatile economic environment[2]Dynamic nature[24]Duration and resources (cascade effect)[24]Competencies of project manager[4, 25–27]Project manager assignment[27]Project management processes (information[25, 27]sharing)due to active intrafirm and interfirm collaborations, multiproject management has entered a new environment wheredifferent self-interested decision makers control the projects.It seems that centralized RCMPSP is no more valid for thecurrent situation. Under this background, the decentralizedRCMPSP is formally proposed [20, 21]. The attributes ofdecentralized/distributed (multiagent) multiproject scheduling problem are the decision maker, the decision mode,and the coordination approach. Coordination is achievedthrough centrally imposed solutions, contracts, auction,argumentation, and mediated single-text negotiations [22].The applicability of decision-making models needs to beevaluated from the practitioner’s perspective.2.1. Challenges in a Multiproject Environment. In a multiproject environment, organizations expect (1) structuredapproach for making “go” or “no-go” decisions duringproject selection, (2) looking for an optimum programschedule that incorporates significant decision variables ofthe company, project delivery system, individual projectobjectives, driven factor, and priority, (3) dealing withuncertainties, and (4) real-time monitoring of the projects[23–27]. Table 1 identifies the common challenges in themultiproject environment (MPE).2.2. Resource-Unconstrained Multiproject Scheduling.Most widely used CPM and PERT techniques deal with timeaspect only [28]. It has severe limitations: (1) assumes unlimited resources and (2) applies to only one project at a time[29–31]. Besides, Fondahl [32] introduced the precedencediagramming method (PDM) to represent a realistic relationship between the activities. However, the inability to3perform resource scheduling is the main drawback of thenetwork scheduling methods. CPM, PERT, and PDMmethods fail to synchronize activity planning and resourceplanning seamlessly. Neither Gantt nor CPM, PERT, andPDM address the decisions required in multiproject setting[33]. Although these models are still applicable in somereal-world projects, a deterministic assumption and limitedto single-project application make it inaccurate for multiproject environments. In multiproject environment, resources are constrained, but the aforementioned methodsdid not cover this situation. Hence, the resourceconstrained multiproject scheduling consideration is essential g.Typically, multiple projects share common resource poolswhose capacities are not sufficient to support all projectactivities at the same time, leading to the resourceconstrained multiproject scheduling problem (RCMPSP)and multimode resource-constrained multiproject scheduling problem (MRCMPSP) [35]. MRCMPSP is the extension of RCMPSP where each activity possesses differentexecution modes. The activities can be executed with theseveral combinations of modes using various constructionmethods, materials, crew size, and overtime policy. Underthis situation, each combination will have different projectperformances regarding time, cost, and quality [5]. AlthoughRCMPSP and MRCMPSP play a vital role in projectmanagement, there are not many fruits on the topic. Themain reason is due to high complexity, which is affected bymany factors, such as the vast solution space, the intensitycontending for resources, conflicting objectives, the interproject dependency and priority, and the high level ofuncertainty [36, 37].The multiproject intention is to prioritize the project’sactivities to optimize an objective function without violatingboth intraproject and interproject resource constraints.Choosing between alternative optima makes the changes inthe scheduling easier and faster than rescheduling [38]. Atthe tactical planning level, managers face the crucial decisions such as allocating resources among various projects,establishing due dates and other milestones for biddingproposals, and determining the optimal trade-off betweenthe absorption of resources and the duration and the costsassociated with alternative “modes” of performing eachactivity. It should be noticed that such decisions have anenormous impact on the whole performance of a company[39].Kim and Leachman [40] proposed linear programmingto optimize the trade-offs of lateness costs among projects.Deckro et al. [41] offered the integer programming withdecomposition approach for solving the multiproject,resource-constrained scheduling problem. Mittal and Kanda[42] considered integer linear programming model forinterproject resource transfers. Krüger and Scholl [43]proposed a framework for resource transfers considering(i) managerial approaches—transfer neglecting approach,resource reducing approach, and resource using approach;

4(ii) types of resource transfers—time, abstraction, andsupport. Confessore et al. [20] developed an iterativecombinatorial auction mechanism for the agent coordination using dynamic programming. Liu and Wang [44]established a profit optimization model for multiprojectscheduling problems considering cash flow and financialrequirements. Exact methods suffer from large problems dueto the combinatorial explosion phenomenon [45]. It is notcomputationally tractable for any real-life problem size,rendering them impractical [46, 47].Another alternative is the approximate methods whichcan be divided into priority rule-based heuristics, classicalmetaheuristics, nonstandard metaheuristics such as agentbased, and different heuristics [48]. Kurtulus and Davis[49] proposed multiproject scheduling rules to minimizetotal project delay: shortest activity of shortest project(SASP), largest activity of largest project (LALP), activitywith highest resource demand first (MAXRD), activitywith maximum slack first (MAXSLK), activity with lowestprecedent work, activity with highest precedent work.Lova and Tormos [8] analyzed the effect of priority rules,minimum late finish time (MINLFT), minimum slack(MINSLK), maximum total work content (MAXTWK),and SASP or first come first serve (FCFS) with networkmodeling approaches, and found that MINLFT withmultiproject approach performed the best. MINLFTproduces most substantial different best schedules almostequal to those produced by MINSLK and minimum latestart time (MINLST) [50]. The maximum total workcontent (MAXTWK) can be more efficient with the boundsof resource usage in multiproject schedules [51]. Sureshet al. [10] analyzed the two-phase priority rules, that is,project priority rules and activity priority rules to maximize the net present value (NPV) under resource transfertimes. Heuristic methods have been extensively used inpractice [52]. However, heuristic models are problemdependent, implies that the rules specific to a modelcannot be applied equally to all problems [53], and do notguarantee an optimal solution.The various neighborhood and population-based metaheuristics provide a generalized and robust approach tooffset the limitations imposed by the exact and rule-basedheuristics. Chen and Shahandashti [54] utilized simulatedannealing (SA) for optimizing multiproject linear scheduling. Suresh et al. [10] presented genetic algorithm (GA)approach to the multiproject scheduling problem with resource transfer times. Tran et al. [55] introduced a fuzzyclustering chaotic-based differential evolution (DE) forsolving multiple resources leveling in the multiple projectsscheduling. Rokou et al. [56] implemented the GA to dealwith classification and prioritization of the projects and antcolony optimization (ACO) to perform the activity listoptimization for each project. Deng et al. [57] appliedparticle swarm optimization (PSO) to search the optimalschedule for the RCMPSP. A nondominated sorting geneticalgorithm II (NSGA-II) is proposed to obtain optimal tradeoffs between different projects objectives [5]. Abido andElazouni [58] introduced strength Pareto evolutionary algorithm (SPEA) to minimize the financing costs, duration ofAdvances in Civil Engineeringa group of projects, and the required credit. Even thoughmany approaches have been proposed to handle the multiproject environment, learning from practices still requiredto consider the integrated behavior of various multiprojectmodeling aspects. This study is proposed to identify themultiproject scheduling problems and practices with resource unconstrained and constrained settings from thepractitioner’s perspective.3. Research MethodologyA questionnaire survey is adopted to identify resourceunconstrained and constrained multiproject schedulingproblems and practices. Constructivist ontology and positivist epistemology have been adopted as research philosophy along with quantitative and qualitative researchmethodology, survey research design, and questionnairebased research method. A questionnaire-based study isapplied predominately for descriptive research, seekingto investigate and analyze research problems [59].3.1. Design of the Questionnaire Survey. The survey isdone through an email-based questionnaire. The respondent contact information is obtained through LinkedIn. The survey consists of five parts: first, challengesfaced in managing multiproject environment; second,resource-unconstrained problems and practices; third,resource-constrained problems and practices; fourth,various multiproject environment aspects such as networkmodeling approaches, decision-making models, activityexecution modes, concepts of sharing, dedicating, andsubstituting resources, solution methods, and tools andtechniques; and in the last part, the respondent demographics are collected. The first part of the surveyconsists of ordinal data related to importance scale 1 to 5(Likert scale). Five-point Likert scale appears to be lessconfusing and increases the response rate. Previous authors have used a similar scale for the constructionmanagement research [26, 60]. In the second and thirdparts of the survey, the subjective opinions are extractedfor the resource unconstrained and constrained situations,and each has three subitems. The fourth part of the surveyinvolves nominal data and subjective opinions. The finalpart contains information such as respondent designation,years of experience, the category of stakeholder, andregion.3.2. Characteristics of Respondents. The pilot study wasconducted to refine the survey questions from the threeindustry experts. The responses are collected from sampleunits project engineer, planning engineer, project manager,construction manager, and general manager. A total of 90valid responses were received. The responses were receivedfrom 17 different countries: India, UAE, Oman, SaudiArabia, Qatar, South Africa, USA, UK, Malaysia, Australia,Iran, Singapore, Peru, Bahrain, Russia, Sri Lanka, andPakistan. The distribution and characteristics of the respondents were tabulated in Table 2.

Advances in Civil Engineering5Table 2: Demographics of respondents.DemographyExperience 5 years5–10 years 10 yearsStakeholderClientProject management consultantMain contractorSubcontractorRegionIndiaUAEOmanSaudi ArabiaQatarOthers (South Africa, USA, UK, Malaysia,Australia, Iran, Singapore, Peru, Bahrain, Russia,Sri Lanka, and 9903.3. Method of Data Analysis. The study was analyzed usingSPSS V.24. The method of data analysis was as follows:(1) Many previous researchers employed a relative importance index to rank the variables [60, 61]. Therespondents are divided into two categories: (a)client and project management consultant (PMC)who monitors the project, and (b) main contractorand subcontractor who execute the project. Theoverall ranking is calculated from the combination ofall stakeholders.Relative importance index(RII) W ,A N(1)where W is the weight given to each variable by the respondents, which ranges from 1 (least important), 2 (fairlyimportant), 3 (important), 4 (very important), to 5 (mostimportant); A is the highest weight of variable (i.e., 5); and Nis the total number of respondents.Spearman rank correlation coefficient is applied tomeasure the strength of the monotonic relationship betweenpairs of variables that influence the performance of multiproject environment. Correlation coefficients 0–0.19, 0.2–0.39, 0.4–0.59, 0.6–0.79, and 0.8–1 are considered to veryweak, weak, moderate, strong, and very strong relationship,respectively, between the variables [62].Kruskal–Wallis test is a nonparametric test alternative toone-way ANOVA for testing whether samples originatefrom the same distribution. The authors check the distribution between the stakeholder categories such as (a) clientand project management consultant, and (b) main contractor and subcontractor.Null hypothesis H0: significant difference does not existin the distribution of multiproject environment variablesamong the stakeholder category.Alternate hypothesis H1: significant difference exists inthe distribution of multiproject environment variablesamong the stakeholder category.(2) Factor analysis is used to identify the common correlating variables to form a few underlying factors.Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) test and Bartlett’s test ofSphericity are conducted to evaluate the adequacy ofsample data. Initially, the eigenvalue is set to greaterthan 1 for extracting the factors. Once it is identified,then factor extraction limit is assigned. Orthogonalvarimax is assigned to interpret the variables. Finally,the reliability (Cronbach alpha) test is conducted foreach factor and all the variables [62].(3) Chi-square goodness of fit is employed to find out if thereis a statistically significant difference between an observedset of frequencies and an expected set of frequencies ofvarious aspects of the multiproject environment: networkmodeling approaches, activity execution modes,decision-making models, and solutions methods.Null hypothesis H0: significant difference does not existbetween observed and expected frequencies of multiprojectenvironment aspects.Alternate hypothesis H1: significant difference existsbetween observed and expected frequencies of multiprojectenvironment aspects.(4) Qualitative analysis: examining each line of data andthen defining actions within (open), making connections between a category and its subcategory (axial),identifying the frequently reappeared core variables(selective). The following questions are addressed: (a)what can be learned from resource unconstrained andconstrained situations? and (b) how various resourceconstrained multiproject scheduling aspects areperceived?

6Advances in Civil EngineeringTable 3: Ranking of challenges in managing the multiproject environment (MPE).Variables1. Division and assignment ofresources/resource allocation2. Organizational culture3. Management support4. Prioritization/project selection5. Real-time monitoring and proactive decisionmaking6. Capacity7. Complexity8. Conflict9. Commitment10. Context11. Communication12. Coordination13. Volatile economic environment14. Dynamic nature15. Duration and resources (cascade effect)16. Competencies of project manager17. Project manager assignment18. Project management processes(information sharing)Client and project managementconsultantRank (RII)Main contractor andsubcontractorRank (RII)OverallrankingRank (RII)7 (0.813)1 (0.881)2 (0.858)12 (0.690)2 (0.845)8 (0.787)10 (0.753)9 (0.776)12 (0.742)12 (0.731)7 (0.800)11 (0.758)5 (0.832)2 (0.878)1 (0.862)13 (0.690)14 (0.690)18 (0.587)9 (0.781)15 (0.639)6 (0.832)4 (0.839)17 (0.606)16 (0.619)10 (0.781)3 (0.845)11 (0.768)13 (0.692)14 (0.681)15 (0.671)11 (0.753)18 (0.614)5 (0.854)3 (0.858)16 (0.651)17 (0.651)8 (0.790)6 (0.844)7 (0.803)13 (0.691)14 (0.684)15 (0.642)10 (0.762)18 (0.622)5 (0.847)4 (0.851)17 (0.636)16 (0.640)9 (0.787)6 (0.844)8 (0.791)1 (0.852)4 (0.858)3 (0.856)4. Results and Discussion4.1. Ranking of Challenges in the Multiproject Environment(MPE). The relative importance index and ranking werecalculated for each variable under two categories of stakeholders (Table 3). The top ranking challenges based on Clientand PMC are project management processes (informationsharing), management support, competencies of projectmanager, coordination, real-time monitoring and proactivedecision making, and communication. The top rankingchallenges based on main contractor and subcontractor aredivision and assignment of resources/resource allocation,real-time monitoring and proactive decision making, coordination, project management processes (informationsharing), communication, and competencies of projectmanager. The five variables are shared among the twocategories of stakeholders, whereas the final ranking considers the combined effect of all respondents that influencethe performance of multiproject environment: (1) real-timemonitoring and proactive decision making, (2) division andassignment of resources/resource allocation, (3) projectmanagement processes (information sharing), (4) coordination, (5) communication, and (6) competencies ofproject manager (Table 3).Kruskal–Wallis test was applied to check whethera significant difference exists among the stakeholder’s responses on the variables. The respondents were grouped intotwo categories: client-side (client and project managementconsultant) and contractor-side (main contractor andsubcontractor). Statistically, a significant difference existsamong the stakeholder categories only for the variablesdivision and assignment of resources/resource allocationand management support. Management support variable islocated in the seventh position considering the overallranking, whereas a significant difference does not exist forthe remaining 16 variables (Table 4).The degree of correlation between the variables thatinfluence the performance of multiproject environmentwas evaluated among one-third of the variables. Real-timemonitoring and proactive decision making are moderatelycorrelated with coordination and communication. Projectmanagement processes (information sharing) are also moderately correlated with competencies of project manager,coordination, and communication. A moderate correlationexists between the coordination and communication variables. However, the other relations between the variablesare found to be weak and very weak (Figure 2). Coordination among project managers of different projects isparamount essential to achieve the efficient use of limitedresources in the multiproject situation. Coordination iscritical at the lower level to divide and assign the resourcesto meet operational efficiency. Coordination is also essential at the higher level for portfolio efficiency. The efficiency of a portfolio depends on individual projects’operational capabilities. For that, project manager’s competency is the key.4.2. Factor Analysis. The variables mentioned in Table 3were considered for the factor analysis. The subject to itemratio was found to be 5 : 1 [63, 64]. KMO-test value of 0.824confirmed the measure of sampling adequacy with thestatistical significance of Bartlett’s test of Sphericity. Thereare four factors recognized with the eigenvalue greater than1. Scree plot also suggests the four components (Figure 3)[62]. Prioritization/project selection variable was removed

Advances in Civil Engineering7Table 4: Kruskal–Wallis test for checking the differences between client-side and contractor-side.SummaryVariable1. Division and assignment of resources/resourceallocation3. Management support2. Organizational culture4. Prioritization/project selection5. Real-time monitoring and proactive decisionmaking6. Capacity7. Complexity8. Conflict9. Commitment10. Context11. Communication12. Coordination13. Volatile economic environment14. Dynamic nature15. Duration and resources (cascade effect)16. Competencies of project manager17. Project manager assignment18. Project management processes (informationsharing)ResultSignificant difference existsSignificant difference does not exists5. Realtime monitoring andproactive decision making0.354 (weak)χ2 (1, N 90)5.108, p 0.054.303, p 0.053.565, p 0.051.573, p 0.051.425, p 7,0.987,0.007,0.039,0.911,p 0.05p 0.05p 0.05p 0.05p 0.05p 0.05p 0.05p 0.05p 0.05p 0.05p 0.05p 0.050.057, p 0.050.244 (weak)0.276 (weak)0.455 (moderate)1. Division and assignmentof resources/resourceallocation0.496 (moderate)0.249 (weak))akwe)840.173 (very weak)0.176(very0.1ry(veweak16. Competencies of projectmanager0.357 (weak)0.540 (m11. Communication0.288 (weak)0.562 (moderate)oderate18. Project managementprocesses (informationsharing))ateer)0.537 (moderate)12. Coordination0.4odm(03ModerateWeakVery weakFigure 2: Spearman’s rank correlation relations among the top six variables.during the factor extraction. Factor 1 explains the totalvariance of 17.911% and contains six variables (Table 5). InTable 6, factor 1 variables have the Pearson correlationcoefficient values between 0.284 and 0.575. The variablescommunication, coordination, conflict, real-time monitoring and p

did not cover this situation. Hence, the resource-constrained multiproject scheduling consideration is es-sential[34]. 2.3. Resource-Constrained Multiproject Scheduling. Typically, multiple projects share common resource pools whose capacities are not sufficient to support all project activities at the same time, leading to the resource-

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