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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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How to Become a Project Manager – Selecting Your First Project

How to Become a Project Manager – Selecting Your First Project
By Margaret Cato-Smith

Having completed your project management studies you may feel well equipped to take on anything, no matter how challenging. However, as I am sure you have observed, some projects are more difficult than others. It would not be a good idea to take on something that will have you quickly stressed and wondering if you’re ever going to be successful.

Project complexity is always important to understand and it is something to pay special attention to when you are starting out. When I look at complexity, I look at two major aspects of a project i.e. technical complexity and stakeholder complexity.

Technical complexity refers to the difficulty associated with delivering what you are intended to deliver. Clearly building a garden shed is a lot less complex than designing and developing a rocket. What is important for you, is to ensure that you take on something that you are confident you can progress from the technical standpoint. Read the Complete Article

How to Become a Project Manager: Can You Learn by Watching?

How to Become a Project Manager: Can You Learn by Watching?
By Margaret Cato-Smith

Going on a formal project management course is a must for an aspiring project manager. However, there are a number of additional approaches you can use to develop your project management skills. Direct experience is often cited as the ultimate teacher and most would agree that this is undoubtedly true. The problem is though, that you may not always be in the ideal position to be gaining direct experience. In this case, a secondary approach can be taken. I call it the ‘watch, analyze and learn’ strategy.

For this approach to be effective, you need to be in a situation where you have the opportunity to observe a project or a number of projects. Typically, there are always projects going on in any business today. This is essentially due to the fast pace at which the business environment is changing. Read the Complete Article

Functional and Non-Functional Requirements: A Primer

Functional and Non-Functional Requirements: A Primer
By Ben Snyder, CEO of Systemation

What does it do and how does it work?

These two questions should be top of mind for every business analyst embarking on a new project. That’s because, at a very basic level, these two questions will guide you towards the functional and non-functional requirements that are critical for ensuring a successful end result.

Functional vs. Non-Functional: What’s the Difference?

As the questions above imply, functional requirements identify what the product should do, while non-functional requirements define how the product should work.

But those definitions probably have you asking more questions, like: Does…works—what’s the difference? and Why does it even matter?

One of the easiest ways to understand the difference between functional and non-functional requirements is to look at a real product.

For example, consider the cell phone and what it does. There are lots of bells and whistles that have become standard expectations, like calling, emailing, texting, photography, voice activation and notifications. Read the Complete Article

What Is the Silver Lining for Projects?

What Is the Silver Lining for Projects?
By Marge Tam

The proverb “For every cloud there is a silver lining” can be interpreted as for every difficult situation there is some good to it. The proverb is of said to the person that would welcome such an encouragement during trying times, and the person is unable to see any positive way forward.

In the framework of Project Management, the Project Risk Management Process brings the silver lining to the uncertainties that come with managing anything that occurs in the future. Many people tie the word ‘risk’ with the negative connotation. However, according to the PMBOK, there are both negative and positive risks. The negative risk has potential impacts downstream to the overall health of the project projects such as project slip, budget overrun, and unsatisfied customers. While positive risks are essentially opportunities that brings about return on investment, increased revenue and overall process improvements. Read the Complete Article

Project Management Foundations

Project Management Foundations
By Marge Tam

As a professional Project Manager, what would the most fundamental sound advise that one would provide to fellow Project Managers at all different levels – entry level, mid-level, or senior level Project Managers? The key to project success and the fundamental principle that every Project Manager needs to know and practice is the management of the triple constraint, or the iron triangle. This involves Scope, Budget, and Schedule.

In the most simplistic words, imagine the triangle in having three sides for each of the constraint area – Scope, Budget, and Schedule. Every time each side changes, the other two sides have to change as well. We have all heard about the request for project results with the low budget, fast cycle, and highest quality possible. To fulfill one’s professional responsibilities, the Project Management’s role is to gather all the facts on project budget baseline, detailed project scope, and timeline to meet all business and user requirements. Read the Complete Article

Risk Management… The What, Why, and How

Risk Management… The What, Why, and How
By Michael Stanleigh

What Is Risk Management?

Risk Management is the process of identifying, analyzing and responding to risk factors throughout the life of a project and in the best interests of its objectives. Proper risk management implies control of possible future events and is proactive rather than reactive. For example:

An activity in a network requires that a new technology be developed. The schedule indicates six months for this activity, but the technical employees think that nine months is closer to the truth. If the project manager is proactive, the project team will develop a contingency plan right now. They will develop solutions to the problem of time before the project due date. However, if the project manager is reactive, then the team will do nothing until the problem actually occurs. The project will approach its six month deadline, many tasks will still be uncompleted and the project manager will react rapidly to the crisis, causing the team to lose valuable time. Read the Complete Article

Key Project Management Methodologies – PRINCE2, PER, NPI, RAD, Scrum and Waterfall

Key Project Management Methodologies – PRINCE2, PER, NPI, RAD, Scrum and Waterfall
By Michelle Symonds

When you invest in project management training you will become familiar with key project management methodologies. Learning about these methodologies will enable you to organize your project effectively, using processes that focus your strategy and enable you to achieve better results. Here are a just a few key PM methodologies:

Waterfall

This methodology is well known in most industries and is particularly popular within the construction industry. There are several different versions of this process with the original version including these key phases:

  • Elements stipulation
  • Design
  • AKA or Coding
  • Integration
  • AKA Validation
  • Installing
  • Maintaining

PER (Packaged Enable Re-engineering)

In the most modern PM courses this methodology may not be referenced, but it is still commonly researched because it follows a conventional and traditional avenue to project management. The lengthy papers on the methodology explain in depth theories and applications which could be implemented in conjunction with other processes. Read the Complete Article

Prince of Planning – Part 1: The Art of Managing Your Writing Project

Prince of Planning – Part 1: The Art of Managing Your Writing Project
By Helen Treharne

In addition to holding down a full time job, blogging, writing my first book and generally “living”, I’ve also been undertaking a project management qualification with my employer.

PRINCE2 (an acronym for PRojects IN Controlled Environments) is a process-based method for project management, used extensively in both the public and private sector. I am by no means an expert, having only completed the foundation level training, but I have to say I’ve learned some surprisingly useful lessons.

Needless to say, that my knowledge will benefit me immensely in my organization, where project management techniques such as Prince or Agile are used to effectively implement and manage change.

The surprising lesson has been somewhat less obvious – it has unquestionably influenced my approach to my next writing project.

As I’ve said previously, I’m in the final throes of my first novel, “Relative Strangers”, which is what I’m increasingly referring to as a vampire-family drama/thriller. Read the Complete Article

The Five Phases of a Project

The Five Phases of a Project
By Michelle Symonds

Project management techniques have undergone a bit of a shakeup over recent years. With agile still featuring heavily in many spheres and cascade still hanging about, there seems to be little to agree on when it comes to the ‘right’ way to manage a project. Whatever your preferred technique or style, being able to identify the various phases of a project is helpful to assist you in segmenting your workload for better management of time and resources.

Unfortunately this is yet another area on which there is no agreement to be made. Some will state that there are three phases in a project, others that there are seven. Here we will consider the five phase project management structure, which seems to be one of the more flexible and easily managed takes on phased project management.

What are the five phases?

  1. Initiation: Project initiation is the part where we name our project and officially start working on it.
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