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The Cone of Uncertainty – The Basics

The Cone of Uncertainty – The Basics
By Michelle Symonds

The Cone of Uncertainty is a well known theory which was developed by Mr Barry Boehm in the early 1980’s. This concept was introduced in the book titled Software Engineering Economics.

The Cone of Uncertainty relates to the aspects of uncertainty within project management and how they evolve throughout the process. Often when a project is in its infancy, it is impossible to accurately predict how the work will progress, estimations cannot be precisely predicted and so the project is subject to uncertainty. As the project develops, research is undertaken in various areas and more details can be obtained allowing those involved to gain more information therefore decreasing the overall level of uncertainty. This reaches 0% when the continual risk has been accounted for or eliminated with risk management strategies.

The closing of the project should involve these risks being eliminated or responsibility for management of these risks transferred to a group dedicated to the ongoing maintenance of the project. Read the Complete Article

Software Estimates and How to Make Them

Software Estimates and How to Make Them
By Spencer Hoffman

When it comes to making software estimates, there are a few things you’ll want to understand first. In this post, we’ll go over some ways to make estimates, understand where they come from, and how they (usually) work in the land of software development. Let’s start with some things that often remain unspoken, but shouldn’t:

  1. Some people do not want estimates. They want unrealistic promises for purposes that have less to do with the project, and more to do with making themselves look good in the short-term (for a promotion, bonus, whatever.) If you’re in this situation, you need to go out-of-band with your communication about the project (i.e., above someone’s head.) If it’s a client, you might consider talking to another stakeholder, or even to that stakeholder’s boss. This is a delicate act, and needs to be done with great care.
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Six Ways to Know You Should Pay More Attention to Resource Management

Six Ways to Know You Should Pay More Attention to Resource Management
By Nicholas Holmes

Resource management is the lifeblood of a consultancy business and of good project management. If you can’t get the right people in the right place, you’re dead in the water. But it’s surprising how many projects get into trouble when the warning signs were there long before anybody realized there was a problem.

So what should set alarm bells ringing for project managers when it comes to resource management?

  1. Unknown, uneven or low utilization

    Utilization is a metric most project managers should be paying attention to as closely as financial controllers do – but for slightly different reasons. While under-utilization is seen as a financial problem, over-utilization often results in a resource squeeze, significantly reducing the agility of project teams, and it can also lead to demotivated, exhausted employees. So PMs need to be able to see areas of concern early and work with a resource scheduler or manager to iron out issues before they become a problem that can affect project delivery.

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10 Guidelines for Estimating Project Effort

10 Guidelines for Estimating Project Effort
By Susanne Madsen

Many projects start off on the wrong foot because the effort involved in delivering them has been underestimated. It is human nature to want to deliver something well and quickly, but underestimating the complexities of a project serves no one. As project managers it is our job to make sure that the team understands what the users want and how much it will cost to produce what they want. This is one of the cornerstones of being able to successfully deliver a project.

One of the prerequisites for producing a reasonable estimate is to have spent sufficient time analyzing and understanding the requirements and the proposed solution. Carry out too little analysis and the estimated solution remains unclear and risky. Carry out too much analysis and the team will have spent too much time in discussions at the expense of actually starting and delivering the work. Read the Complete Article

The Develop Schedule Process in Project Management

The Develop Schedule Process in Project Management
By Douglas Ruh, Northwest University

The Develop Schedule process could be viewed as the Estimate Project Duration exercise. The process of developing a schedule is one of the most important parts of the project simply because it will be used by virtually everyone involved with the project. It is a highly visible time management document that intends to keep the project on track concerning attaining start and finish times, and achieving project completion intermediate milestones.

This process is one of the largest of the processes and makes use of 21 combined tools, inputs and outputs.

Developing the schedule usually takes place after the activities have been defined and sequenced and the activity resources and durations have been estimated. The schedule is usually an iterative process allowing for changing resources or activity sequences. This document results in the Schedule Baseline which, when finished and approved is the document that will be used to track the project performance against. Read the Complete Article

Project Management Plan – How to Estimate Activity Resources

Project Management Plan – How to Estimate Activity Resources
By Sheena Davison, Northwest University

There are two things that are very important to determine when calculating the amount of resources each activity is going to take. First, you must determine what level of competency you need. At this point it’s important to not look at what experience or skill set you have available to you, but truly look at what is needed to get the job done. Secondly, you need to determine how much time the activity will take if the needed competency level is met. As an example, it make take a level 2 Engineer 20 hours to write the code that you need for the software, that 20 hours is the amount of time needed for the activity of writing code. Often, the easiest way to determine the amount of time needed is to ask someone at the level of competency needed, the amount of time it would take them to complete the activity. Read the Complete Article

Fundamentals of Project Planning and Scheduling

Fundamentals of Project Planning and Scheduling
By Atul Gaur

One of my smooth progressing engineering project was suddenly jolted by numerous emails and phone calls from the project sponsor asking the Management to expedite activities at site. The project was going on quite smoothly as it had the best plan to back it up and we all hoped that things would go as planned but eventually it did not work out that way. The project sponsors demanded an unexpected change in the project completion date in order to meet their financial goals. The complete project schedule had to be reworked in order to meet the client expectations. Important milestones like site mobilization had to be advanced in order to commence construction activities and complete the project as per the new deadlines. The subsequent paragraphs describes some fundamental steps followed to develop and implement a new project schedule.

As the site team got mobilized we were bombarded with myriad of problems some of them so mundane that we were at times amazed dealing with the slew of such problems. Read the Complete Article

Controlling Schedule and Cost with Project Baselines

Controlling Schedule and Cost with Project Baselines
By Bill Scott, Global Knowledge Course Director and Instructor

Stakeholders measure projects by how well they are executed within the project constraints or baselines. A baseline is an approved plan for a portion of a project (+/- changes). It is used to compare actual performance to planned performance and to determine if project performance is within acceptable guidelines. Every project has at least four project baselines. There may be others, depending on the project and definitions used.

Project Baselines

  • Budget
  • Schedule
  • Scope
  • Quality

Schedule and Budget are the focus of this paper and the terms activity and work elements are synonymous. Schedule and cost (budget) are two of the major legs of the project constraint polygon. Without the schedule and budget baselines plans, one does not know where the project stands relative to planned schedule progress or planned budget performance. The schedule and budget baselines, along with other baselines, are developed in the planning phase of the project. Read the Complete Article

Improving Project Portfolio Management Maturity: Resource Leveling

Improving Project Portfolio Management Maturity: Resource Leveling
By Claire Schwartz

A quick trip to Wikipedia yields the following definition for resource leveling: ‘a project management technique used to examine unbalance use of resources (usually people or equipment) over time, and for resolving over-allocations or conflicts.’ In other words, through resource leveling we can ensure that the project schedule is reasonable and realistic from a resource perspective – that the people or equipment needed to execute the work will be available when and where they are needed.

Sounds simple? The reality is that resource leveling needs to take multiple factors into account and can be anything but simple. And, like anything else that’s really complicated, most of us are looking for better tools to help us accomplish the task. That’s when the question about automatic resource leveling comes up.

While some project scheduling tools provide a process to see if resources are overloaded, others also provide a function that will recalculate the schedule to eliminate any overloads. Read the Complete Article

Economies of Resource Over Allocation

Economies of Resource Over Allocation
By Carl M. Manello

“I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.” –Ronald Reagan

What the former President expressed in jest brings attention to a long-standing issue. We are decades past Regan’s time and you still cannot listen to news for long without hearing a story about the national deficit, the growing deficit, or reducing the deficit. You do not need an economics degree to understand that a deficit means that spending is in excess of what one has. In other words, the government is committing to do and spend more than it has the capacity to do. And no matter what side of the political spectrum you sit on, all can agree that a large deficit is a bad thing.

The same idea applies to the management of resources within a company, specifically its people. An organization uses a mix of employees and contractors to complete work to meet its commitments. Read the Complete Article

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