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The Project Charter – What Should Be Included

The Project Charter – What Should Be Included
By Sue Cochran, Northwest University

When you initially charter a plane, you don’t need to provide a seating chart, or list of names to the airline company. You do, however, need to know approximately how many people will be on the plane, how much the trip will cost and where you are going. The Project Charter is much like that for your project.

The Charter is a document that explains the project in clear concise wording without a lot of detail. It’s written for high level management needs. These people do not need all the detail to understand what the end goal is, how long it will take and how much it will cost them.

The project charter includes:

  • The purpose and objectives of the project in clear, concise language.
  • Requirements of the project, very high level, not much detail here.
  • Project description, a paragraph or two that explains the project.
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Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): Top-down or Bottom-up?

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): Top-down or Bottom-up?
By Samuel Prasad

Project Managers are always talking about Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). What is WBS and why is it needed? Simply put it is a hierarchical depiction of all tasks that must be done to complete a project. The tasks at the lowest hierarchical level define unit(s) of work that can be unambiguously defined and whose time, cost and resource requirements can be accurately computed.

There are essentially two ways to create a Work Breakdown Structure – the top-down or the bottom-up approach.

  • The top-down approach, in my opinion, generates a complete and more accurate WBS. In this approach, the WBS is derived by decomposing the overall project into sub-projects or lower-level tasks. This decomposition is based on general project characteristics and not on detailed design elements. The decomposition continues until the tasks or work units reach a level where they can be accurately defined and estimated.
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WBS Types

WBS Types (#5 in the series How to Plan and Organize a Project)
By Michael D. Taylor

Even though the term “Work Breakdown Structure” has been used as a label for all project scope hierarchical diagrams, there are, in practice, many types other than “deliverable” oriented structures.

Verb-oriented WBS: a task-oriented WBS defines the deliverable of project work in terms of the actions that must be done to produce the deliverable. The first word in a given WBS element usually is a verb, such as, design, develop, optimize, transfer, test, etc.

Noun-oriented WBS: a deliverable-oriented WBS defines project work in terms of the components (physical or functional) that make up the deliverable. In this case, the first word in a given WBS element is a noun, such as, Module A, Subsystem A, Automobile Engine, Antenna, etc. Since the nouns are usually parts of a product, this WBS type is sometimes called a “Product Breakdown Structure (PBS). Read the Complete Article

Developing the Project Management Plan

Developing the Project Management Plan
By Elyse Nielsen

We know that the project management plan is the key document that contains the overall planning, monitoring, and implementing activities to be done in a project. So how does one derive such a document?

First one has to look at what one has around the desktop. The inputs for developing a Project Management Plan are:

  • Preliminary Project Scope Statement – The preliminary Project Scope Statement forms the basis of the scope section of the Project Management Plan and includes a description of the scope, its boundaries, and the major deliverables.
  • Project management processes – Project management processes are descriptions of how the project will be managed. For example, communication management at your company might include status updates included in the project bulletin board.
  • Organizational process assets – Organizational process assets are resources, procedures, or processes, from any or all of the organizations involved in the project, that influence the process or outcome of a project.
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Progressive Elaboration Is the Only Sane Approach to Planning!

Progressive Elaboration Is the Only Sane Approach to Planning!
By Kiron D. Bondale

Imagine that you are planning a multi-day road trip across the country to a town which you’ve never visited before. Chances are that you will load your smartphone with maps to help you navigate the journey as well as identifying some points of interest and regularly spaced hotels along the way. What are the odds that you will plan your trip down to the hour? For most of us the answer will be pretty slim.

So why is it that some of us continue to develop plans to a level of detail which is unrealistic given the level of information we possess about the project at that point in time?

Some times this could be caused by low organizational project management maturity. Financial policies or methodology standards might require project teams to provide detailed high confidence detailed cost and schedule estimates for the entirety of a project before funding gets released. Read the Complete Article

How to Develop a Project Plan that’s Right for Your Next Project

How to Develop a Project Plan that’s Right for Your Next Project
By Ben Snyder, CEO of Systemation

The baseline. In project control, everything you do refers to it. It’s the expectation you’re setting with stakeholders.

The main medium you have for communicating that baseline is by developing a project plan. It documents the time, cost and scope baseline so that everyone can stay on the same page throughout the course of the project.

A good project plan is one of the most important tools for minimizing risk and keeping a project on track through execution. But while there are a number of things that all good project plans have in common, what’s “good” for one isn’t necessarily good for all.

Here are some key points to keep in mind as you develop your next project plan.

Project Plans Are Living Documents

As the name implies, by developing a project plan, it sets the context and communicates all planning facets of a project. Read the Complete Article

The Work Breakdown Structure: One of the Project Manager’s Most Important Tools

The Work Breakdown Structure: One of the Project Manager’s Most Important Tools
By Ben Snyder, CEO of Systemation

The work breakdown structure is one of the most important project management tools you have as a project manager. It’s the foundation for estimating, budgeting, sequencing and scheduling of activities, reporting, and controlling a project. In short, it’s the basis for nearly everything that goes on in project planning.

A work breakdown structure isn’t a static document—you’ll continue to refine and revise it along the way—but it serves as a consistent, general structure for moving forward so it’s important that you do it well. And while there’s no one right way to do it, there are some common traps you should avoid.

Breaking it Down

You‘re probably aware of the technique of decomposition, which is used for dividing and subdividing the project scope and project deliverables into smaller, more manageable parts. Here’s how decomposition typically plays out in the work breakdown structure. Read the Complete Article

The Second of 8 Habits of Highly Successful Project Managers: Plan the Achievement!

The Second of 8 Habits of Highly Successful Project Managers: Plan the Achievement!
By Richard Morreale

This article is a part of a series. You can find the previous article here.

There are loads of reasons why the second habit of very successful Project Managers is Plan the Achievement. We know that without a plan we are never sure of what we are supposed to be doing, when we are supposed to be doing it, when we are supposed to have it finished, who is dependent on us finishing it, when the entire project is going to be completed and how we are going to know if we are on time for delivery. I think those are enough reasons for Project Managers to pay particular attention to Planning the Achievement on their projects.

The Importance of Planning

One of my mentors (he doesn’t know he is a mentor of mine but I have read so many of his books and listened to so many of his audio programs that I feel like I know him), Zig Ziglar, says that, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. Read the Complete Article

Plan Projects like Albert Einstein!

Plan Projects like Albert Einstein!
By Ray W. Frohnhoefer

As we’ve learned from projects like healthcare.gov, Agile isn’t always the best method to follow for software development. If we look at its strengths and weaknesses, Agile is not especially well-suited in its pure form for projects with fixed deadlines and fixed scope. It also exhibits limitations in complex projects which require strong integration testing. So there are other methodologies and techniques which can be used standalone or combined with Agile when trying to meet project criteria. Let’s take a look at one that is not restricted to the software world, but can be used in virtually any industry.

Albert Einstein said that if he had an hour to solve a problem, he would spend 55 minutes understanding the problem and 5 minutes solving it. Suppose we applied that type of ratio to project planning and execution? Some might label it “Extreme Planning”. Read the Complete Article

How to Develop a Plan to Manage IT Risks

How to Develop a Plan to Manage IT Risks
By Harry Hall

Want to know the secret to managing IT risks?

Drumroll please…

A Risk Management Plan.

Simple, huh?

So simple as to be, well, let’s say completely useless. Because if you knew the secret to consistently managing IT risks, you’d already be doing it, right?

But instead, you continue doing what you’ve always done with a gnawing apprehension that your worst nightmare is just around the corner. You are too busy to “add risk management” to your list of things to do.

The problem is that many CIOs – even the top-tier CIOs – lack an adequate grasp of their IT risks. Even these top dogs understand that they’re one event away from losing the farm. Which risks are greatest?

  • Data security breach with reputational harm
  • Regulatory risks
  • Social media
  • Recruiting and retaining qualified IT staff
  • Improper balance of outsourcing
  • Cloud technologies
  • Transition to agile methods
  • Disaster recovery
  • Outdated operating systems
  • Data on user-owned mobile devices
  • Third-party risks

But there is a way to give you a better chance of not only surviving, but thriving in the face of great uncertainty. Read the Complete Article

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