The power of a WBS…

Shortcut to get to a full project overview and develop integrated management plan

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Project management is a complex skill/art to master. It is my endeavor to assist those new to the field to gain “hindsight” driven insight into what makes projects more successful.

Today we are going to discuss a reasonably technical element – Work Breakdown Structures (WBS).

The name is even daunting, but I can assure you that it is quite simple once you have grasped the concept, and the benefits are numerous and powerful.

So what is it?

What does it do?

How can it help me?

The way in which you should approach this is as follow:

  • Can I break up my project into smaller (logical) pieces? E.g. if you bake a cake you can separate preparation, baking and decorating quite easily.
  • Ok now if we look at these pieces, are there logical pieces inside of them? E.g. in preparation there are 2 other pieces – wet ingredients and dry ingredients that have to be mixed separately (depending on the recipe of course)
  • Carry on until it stops making sense or all the pieces have been broken up into elements.
  • If I ignore outside influences, what do I – and my team – have to do to achieve success in each of the lowest pieces? E.g. all the dry ingredients have to be mixed BEFORE the wet ingredients. As a general rule, you will now be in the task or actions level where stuff has to done by people.
  • If it becomes clear that you may have missed a piece (measure the ingredients) simply add them in on the level that makes the most sense.

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What has happened here is astonishing:

  • You have actually planned the work that would be required to achieve the overall goal in a structure and logical manner
  • You have determined what has to be done in some sequence (e.g. measure before mix)
  • You can see where tasks can occur simultaneously (e.g. switch on the oven and gather ingredients)
  • You know that there are dependencies (e.g. you cannot pour the dough into the baking pan before you have greased the pan.
  • You have an idea of the time (work and duration), the number of resources (ingredients, equipment, and people) and sequence of events – I would call that a basic schedule with time and cost management capability.
  • You know what can be measured – when, where, who… – I would call that a quality and milestone plan you may even want to base your communications plan on this…

I know this sounds like stuff you have heard of before, but if you do this early enough (it’s never too late) in your project, you will be able to isolate the areas that you and your team are not too clear about. You can now focus on these areas to gain the knowledge or information required to properly plan – I’m so sorry, would this be your risk log?

I promise you just knowing what you don’t know is justification enough to do the exercise.

Every document and tool (e.g. Project Charter, Scope of work, Schedule, Resources plan, Communications plan, Quality plan, Risk / Issue management plan, Cost management plan) now have a BACKBONE from which they can be developed.

If the WBS is used in developing your project management infrastructure, you will discover that you have an integrated management plan.

If that does not impress the boss??????

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The most important benefit that the WBS provides a project team is – – – – UNDERSTANDING!

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Now you and your team simply have to get up, show up and execute…

Please follow, share and comment. I love to hear from you.

 

Introducing Agile into business – Affordably

One of the most revolutionary and exciting events in recent business management history has been the introduction of agile management techniques into the business environment. (outside of IT)

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However, through our experience, this has come at the expense of “proper planning” of work with specific reference to the attainment of business value aligned to a strategy.

Secondly, many organizations have not been able to respond by updating their Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) frameworks which leaves them vulnerable during audits.

Thirdly, Company executives are only now warming up to work breakdown structures (WBS), Gantt charts, and multi-year program budgets.

The disruption advantage that Agile provides practitioners is translated as risk and unstructured (unplanned) work by executives (and auditors). The current “language barrier”  between Agile practice and acceptable business communication is significant and the reporting produced does not provide them with the insight they desire.

It is in exactly this space that we would like to introduce our company’s products and services.

If only there was a tool that allows all of these elements to work seamlessly together on the same data. Why can’t we have a system that can show an Agile Scrum Kanban board in a Gantt chart format? Why can’t we show our burndown chart in a Gantt baseline format, our resource utilization as well as capacity planning in an easy way?

Now there is…

Note: We only offer products and services that return below 12 month ROI as well as deliver measurable and directly attributable value to your organization from the outset.

One of the professional services we render is a rapid business and project planning rectification program. We unfold the fundamental principles of how to plan appropriately (irrespective of the methodology used) which usually reside within your employee development program.

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The products below allow the management of agile projects and events within a structured format, at an implemented price that could conceivably be lower than your current system’s annual renewal. We have provided hyperlinks to each product in the graphic to allow you to browse the features and pricing of the product.

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Obviously, these systems offer significantly more benefits that we have not highlighted in this post. We can assure you that there are several very good reasons the fine organizations listed below elected to utilize these products.

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Do not delay – Contact us today – future-trust.net@future-trust.net.

Project Management 102

Post aimed at positioning and considering standards and approaches to manage projects. It takes a look into phases, knowledge areas with some detail.

You should already know that you have a project and you can do some planning to get things done – From the previous post – Project Management 101.

Now moving swiftly along…

There are many standards and approaches available to manage projects: (From Wikipedia)

Approaches

International Standards

There have been several attempts to develop project management standards, such as:

For clarity sake, we will only delve into one of these “flavors” of project management – Project Management Institute (PMI). The most important next step in your discovery of what project management revolves around phases.

Phases
Phases

The phases are intended to allow us mortal beings to group things together logically that will allow us the greatest chance of succeeding. We have to remember that some learning and bitter experiences have contributed to the knowledge that constitutes the groupings.

Initiation

You have to know a few things before you really start to attack a project. These things are absolutely vital to the success of the project.

  • What MUST the project achieve (not from the project’s view, but from the client’s view)?
  • How many funds are available to achieve what (and how will you be able to get it – what does the project have to do)?
  • Who are the people involved (probably the list of stakeholders already identified in Project Management 101)?
  • Get written signed approval of your understanding of what the project has to achieve (project charter).
New Team - Fresh Young...
New Team – Fresh Young…

Planning and Design

We have discussed planning before, why again now? In Project Management 101 we explained planning to give you enough detail to define the project. In this phase, you will have to plan to achieve the results… You have to plan to an “appropriate level of detail” to allow you to manage project risk by estimating the time, resources, cost and other factors that will affect the chances of delivering the project successfully. (more on project planning)

Planning Discussions....
Planning Discussions…

Executing

Do the work that you said that you were going to do in the planning phase. This is where the tire hits tar, things get serious and things will have to happen…

  • People will have to know who does what when, why and for how long…
  • They have to work hard (I can almost guarantee you that you will not have enough time or people to get all the stuff done),
  • They will have to be accurate and precise (cannot re-do stuff here),
  • You will have to do it cheaply (yes, I know – haha).
Getting it Done....
Getting it Done…

Monitoring and Controlling

You have to constantly evaluate what people are doing…

  • Is it in line with what has been specified?
  • How do we overcome this unanticipated problem?
  • If we lose time doing this, how do we get it back?
  • If that thing now cost more than what we were told, how do we recover the extra expenditure?
  • If we pay more for a better person, will we save enough time to make it worth our while?
  • How does the client perceive all the activity?
Insider View...
Insider View…

Closing

One of three things will cause a project to close:

  • Achieved all of the project deliverables (YAY….. )
  • Stopped due to requirements shift (the reason why the project existed has changed or disappeared)
  • Will never reach the project deliverables (many reasons within and external to project can cause this)

Remember any project you can walk away from…

Project Team - Older Wiser...
Project Team – Older Wiser…

To give you some idea of how projects will tax you as they move through the phases, the line drawing below is a good approximation of how most projects behave.

Phase - Consumption
Phase – Consumption

Phew… Glad that’s over with… So I’m a fully-fledged project manager now?

Well yes and no…

To be a project manager you have to know a little bit of each of these:

The ten knowledge areas are: (Sixth Edition)

  • Project Integration Management
  • Project Scope management
  • Project Schedule Management
  • Project Cost Management
  • Project Quality Management
  • Project Resource Management
  • Project Communications Management
  • Project Risk Management
  • Project Procurement Management
  • Project Stakeholder Management

We will look at this next time…

Have to wait... for... more...
Have to wait… for… more…

Have a fantastic day…