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E-kniha: Focus on project success : tools and techniques for successful projects - Luc De Ceuster

Focus on project success : tools and techniques for successful projects

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Jazyk: anglický
Anotace:
Focus on Project Success – Tools & Techniques for Successful Projects introduces the necessary terms and definitions to effectively work in a project environment.
It introduces how projects are handled in a process way and how different projects follow the same life cycle from Initiation to Closeout whatever type of project you are involved in.
From here, the book takes you systematically through the life cycle in ten consecutive steps and explains in an ordered and logical way what you have to do. The concept is set up in such a way that following these steps will guide you through the project.
The book contains a number of practical issues and exercises to explain and clarify the concepts. The annexes contain additional information related to decision-making techniques and financial parameters that the project manager and team members can use in their day-to-day work. (věnováno památce turnovských židovských občanů zavražděných za druhé světové války v koncentračních táborech)

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APraCom

©

Project

Management

Focus on

Project Success

Tools and Techniques for Successful Projects

First Edition, 2010

Ir. Luc De Ceuster, PMP

Published in the Czech Republic by APraCom s.r.o.


First Edition, December 2010

© Ir. Luc De Ceuster, PMP

Content and Language review: Dan Fiala, PMP, PMI-RMP

Cover Design: René Slauka

ISBN 978-80-254-8707-5


Copyright © 2010

By Luc De Ceuster

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be

reproduced in any form or by any electronic or

mechanical means, including information storage and

retrieval system without permission in writing from the

publisher. In no circumstances can this work be

retransmitted in any form, repackaged in any way or

resold through any media.

Published by:

APraCom s.r.o.

Strakonická 15

150 00 Praha 5 - Smìchov

The Czech Republic

www.APraCom.cz


Table of Contents

Introduction ............................................................ I

Chapter I Terminology and Definitions .................... 1

1 What is a “project” ........................................................ 7

1.1 Objective ......................................................................... 8

1.2 Activities or Tasks ............................................................ 8

1.3 Unique ............................................................................ 9

1.4 Time .............................................................................. 10

1.5 Budget ........................................................................... 12

1.6 Service or product ......................................................... 13

1.7 Specifications ................................................................ 13

2 What is a “program” .................................................... 14

3 What is “project management” ................................... 15

3.1 Managers and Leaders .................................................. 16

3.2 Project Management .................................................... 18

4 Defining the Project Managers role ............................. 20

5 Pros and Cons of Project Management ........................ 22

5.1 Advantages ................................................................... 23

Easy communication ..................................................... 23

Team organization ......................................................... 24

Time saving ................................................................... 24

Work is done in a structured way ................................. 24

Clear task description ................................................... 24

Better control over resources ....................................... 24

Increased quality ........................................................... 25

Increased visibility ......................................................... 25

5.2 Disadvantages ............................................................... 25

Too much focus on tools and techniques ...................... 25

Ramp up time ............................................................... 26

No authority over resources ......................................... 26

Complexity .................................................................... 26

Overhead ...................................................................... 27

Resources change regularly .......................................... 27

Time .............................................................................. 27

6 Benefits of project management ................................. 27

6.1 Benefits relative to management and the project client

28 6.2 Benefits relative to the project ..................................... 29

6.3 Benefits to people ......................................................... 30

7 The scope triangle or triple constraint ......................... 31


8 Types of “Creep” ......................................................... 32

9 The pain curve ............................................................ 35

10 Risk ............................................................................. 37

11 Quality ........................................................................ 38

12 Organizational Structures ............................................ 39

12.1 Functional ..................................................................... 39

12.2 Matrix ........................................................................... 40

12.3 Project Driven ............................................................... 41

Chapter II Project Management Process and Life

Cycle .................................................................... 43

13 The Project Management Process ............................... 45

13.1 Initiation and definition ................................................ 46

13.2 Planning ........................................................................ 47

13.3 Execution ...................................................................... 50

13.4 Control .......................................................................... 51

13.5 Close-out ....................................................................... 52

14 Rolling wave approach ................................................ 53

15 Project Management Life Cycle ................................... 55

Chapter III Define the Project ................................ 59

16 Project Definition ........................................................ 61

16.1 Description.................................................................... 61

16.2 Selecting the project ..................................................... 63

16.3 Problems related to input ............................................. 65

Old Projects .................................................................. 66

No Input ........................................................................ 66

Value of Input ............................................................... 67

Conditions of Satisfaction ............................................. 68

Language ....................................................................... 69

As Soon As Possible or Immediately ............................. 71

17 Project Definition Process ........................................... 73

17.1 Overview ....................................................................... 73

17.2 Step 1 – Preparation ..................................................... 74

Determine the real need............................................... 74

Define the end product ................................................. 76

Determine priorities for the project ............................. 77

17.3 Step 2 – Project set up .................................................. 78

Project objective ........................................................... 79

Change control .............................................................. 82

Infrastructure ................................................................ 83 Step 3 – Project Definition Document........................... 84

Project definition document ......................................... 84

Chapter IV Create WBS and generate tasks ........... 87

18 Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) .............................. 89

18.1 Defining the WBS .......................................................... 89

18.2 The process of decomposition ...................................... 90

18.3 Uses for the WBS .......................................................... 92

Thought process............................................................ 92

Architectural Tool .......................................................... 92

Planning Tool ................................................................. 92

Estimating Tool .............................................................. 93

Budgeting Tool .............................................................. 93

Reporting Tool ............................................................... 94

19 Creating the Work Breakdown Structure ..................... 95

19.1 Top-down approach ...................................................... 96

19.2 Bottom-up approach ..................................................... 96

20 Testing the completeness of the Work Breakdown

Structure ..................................................................... 97

21 Different approaches to build the Work Breakdown

Structure ..................................................................... 98

21.1 Using Nouns .................................................................. 98

21.2 Using Verbs ................................................................... 98

21.3 Other possibilities ......................................................... 99

22 Representations of the Work Breakdown Structure .... 99

22.1 Tree format ................................................................... 99

22.2 Table format .................................................................. 99

23 Task Description Worksheet ...................................... 102

Chapter V Resources, Roles, Responsibilities and

Estimates ............................................................ 105

24 Staffing the Project – Human Resources .................... 107

24.1 Skills summary ............................................................ 107

24.2 Cost of People ............................................................. 108

24.3 Training, Hiring and Firing ........................................... 109

24.4 External or Subject Matter Experts (SME)................... 110

24.5 Performance Standards............................................... 111

24.6 The Superstar Team .................................................... 112

24.7 I like you – I don’t like you ........................................... 113

25 Allocate Human Resources to Tasks ........................... 114


25.1 Skills Inventory Matrix ................................................ 114

25.2 Assigning People to specific Tasks ............................... 116

25.3 Obtaining commitment ............................................... 117

25.4 Estimate individual skill levels ..................................... 118

25.5 Check Validity of Responsibility Assignment Matrix ... 119

26 Estimate Activity Duration ........................................ 121

26.1 Effort, Duration and Elapsed Time .............................. 121

26.2 Three Step Duration Forecasting Model ..................... 124

First Step – Estimate Base Effort ................................. 124

Second Step – Estimate Effort for the project ............. 125

Third Step – Determine Duration ................................ 125

26.3 Methods for estimating duration ................................ 125

Compare with similar tasks ......................................... 125

Historic data ................................................................ 126

Experts ........................................................................ 126

Brainstorming ............................................................. 127

Delphi and Wide Band Delphi Technique .................... 127

26.4 Influencing Activity Duration ...................................... 128

Fixed Duration Tasks ................................................... 128

Resource Driven Task .................................................. 129

Communication problem ............................................ 129

26.5 PERT orthreeoint estimation .................................. 132

Chapter VI Determine Task Interdependencies,

Critical Path and Slack ........................................ 137

27 Define task interdependencies .................................. 139

28 Different methods of presenting ............................... 140

Gantt ........................................................................... 140

Network diagrams ...................................................... 141

29 The Precedence diagramming method ...................... 144

30 Creating the network schedule in 3 steps .................. 148

Drawing network schedule ......................................... 148

Forward Pass ............................................................... 149

Backward pass ............................................................ 151

31 Slack and Critical Path ............................................... 153

Slack ............................................................................ 155

Near-critical Path ........................................................ 155

32 Analyzing the network diagram ................................ 156

Project duration is too long ........................................ 156

More than one critical path ........................................ 156

Near-critical path ........................................................ 157

Tasks with a lot of slack ............................................... 157 Solutions for problems .............................................. 157

Fast tracking = work in parallel ................................... 160

Move resources from non-critical tasks to critical tasks

.................................................................................... 161

Use different solutions or technologies ...................... 162

Further decompose tasks ............................................ 162

Change dependencies ................................................. 162

Change scope .............................................................. 162

Chapter VII Develop Project Schedule, Gantt or

Harmonogram .................................................... 165

34 Translating the PDM in a schedule............................. 167

34.1 Symbols used to indicate start, finish, slack and

relationships ......................................................................... 168

34.2 Drawing the project schedule ..................................... 169

Chapter VIII Perform Resource Loading and Leveling173

35 Allocating Human Resources to a Project .................. 175

35.1 Staffing the project ..................................................... 175

35.2 Resources and simultaneous tasks or projects ........... 175

35.3 Uneven allocation of resources over tasks .................. 176

35.4 Overtime ..................................................................... 177

36 Loading Human Resources ........................................ 178

36.1 Completing the RAM ................................................... 178

36.2 Three step process of resource loading ...................... 179

37 Team Resource histogram.......................................... 183

Chapter IX Generate Project Time Phased and

Cumulative Budget.............................................. 185

38 Different types of costs ............................................. 187

39 Estimating the costs .................................................. 188

39.1 Estimation errors ........................................................ 190

39.2 Top-down estimation approach .................................. 191

39.3 Bottom-up estimation approach ................................. 191

40 Budget loading .......................................................... 191

41 Final results and project budget baseline .................. 193


Chapter X Managing Uncertainty and developing

the Risk Management Plan ................................. 197

42 What is uncertainty? ................................................. 199

43 Uncertainty or Risks in Projects ................................. 200

44 What is risk management? ........................................ 203

45 Risk Management Plan.............................................. 204

45.1 Risk Management Process .......................................... 205

Step 1 – Plan the Risk Management ........................... 205

Step 2 – Identify the risks ........................................... 206

Step 3 – Qualify the risks ............................................ 206

Step 4 – Quantify the risks .......................................... 207

Step 5 – Set up risk response planning ....................... 207

Step 6 – Monitor and Control ..................................... 207

45.2 Project Clients, Stakeholders and Risks ....................... 207

45.3 Risks and Project Life Cycle Phases ............................. 208

46 Risk Management Planning ....................................... 210

46.1 Risk Breakdown Schedule ........................................... 211

46.2 Severity scales for threats and opportunities ............. 212

47 Identification of Risks ................................................ 213

47.1 ABC process ................................................................ 213

47.2 Risks and assumptions ................................................ 214

Example 1 - Bicycle: .................................................... 214

Example 2 – Price of Barrel Crude Oil: ........................ 214

47.3 Risks and the constraints ............................................ 215

Schedule ..................................................................... 215

People ......................................................................... 217

Budget ........................................................................ 219

Scope .......................................................................... 220

47.4 Risk and Cause Identification Techniques ................... 223

Brainstorming and affinity diagram ............................ 224

Delphi and Wide Band Delphi Technique .................... 225

Interviewing ................................................................ 225

Root Cause Analysis .................................................... 226

Strength-Weakness-Opportunity-Threat Analysis ...... 227

Cause-and-Effect diagram ........................................... 228

Risk Identification Checklist ........................................ 230

Flowcharts .................................................................. 230

47.5 Output of the risk identification ................................. 230

48 Qualitative Risk Analysis ........................................... 231

48.1 Definition .................................................................... 231

48.2 Threats and Opportunities .......................................... 231

48.3 Probability and Impact Matrix .................................... 232


Neglect or accept ........................................................ 234

Watch triggers ............................................................. 234

Threats that require actions ........................................ 235

Opportunities to trigger .............................................. 235

48.4 Ranking Risks .............................................................. 235

49 Quantitative Risk Analysis ......................................... 237

49.1 Definition .................................................................... 237

49.2 Determining the monetary value of risks .................... 237

Step 1 .......................................................................... 237

Step 2 .......................................................................... 237

49.3 Expected Value ............................................................ 238

49.4 Expected Monetary Value ........................................... 238

49.5 Decision Tree ............................................................... 239

Example – Ski Lift: ....................................................... 241

49.6 Statistical parameters ................................................. 242

Statistical parameters ................................................. 243

Normal Distribution .................................................... 244

Beta- and Triangular-distribution ................................ 246

Monte Carlo Analysis .................................................. 247

Total Value of risk ........................................................ 248

50 Risk Response Planning ............................................. 249

50.1 Definition .................................................................... 249

50.2 Strategies for threats .................................................. 249

Avoid ........................................................................... 249

Transfer ....................................................................... 250

Mitigate ....................................................................... 250

50.3 Strategies for Opportunities ....................................... 250

Exploit ......................................................................... 250

Share ........................................................................... 251

Enhance ...................................................................... 251

50.4 Common strategies ..................................................... 251

Acceptance ................................................................. 251

50.5 Contingency plans ....................................................... 251

51 Complete the Risk Register ........................................ 252

52 Monitoring and Control ............................................. 252

52.1 Risk response control .................................................. 252

52.2 Role of risk owner ....................................................... 253

52.3 Unplanned risk events ................................................ 253

52.4 Responsibility of the project manager ........................ 253


Chapter XI Project Execution, Follow Up and

Reporting ........................................................... 255

53 Moving from Planning to Execution .......................... 257

53.1 Project Sign Off ........................................................... 257

53.2 Project Kick-off Meeting ............................................. 258

53.3 The Project Manager and his/her new tasks .............. 259

Monitor and Control ................................................... 260

Importance of control ................................................. 260

Some analogy with stability of systems ...................... 261

Communication with the project stakeholders ........... 263

The Project Manager as a Problem Solver .................. 264

The project manager as a negotiator .......................... 265

The Project Manager in charge of Change Management

.................................................................................... 265

54 Documents available for the Project Manager during

execution .................................................................. 267

54.1 Documents prepared during the planning phase ....... 267

54.2 Status reports ............................................................. 267

54.3 Change requests ......................................................... 268

55 Follow-up, control and manage the project ............... 268

55.1 The process ................................................................. 268

55.2 Collecting actual and forecasts ................................... 270

How do we gather information? ................................. 270

Status worksheet ........................................................ 271

How to collect the actual data? .................................. 271

Data and their relevance ............................................. 272

Don’t forget the soft data ........................................... 273

Percentage complete .................................................. 274

Details versus workload .............................................. 275

55.3 Report Status of key control factors ............................ 275

Cost ............................................................................. 275

People ......................................................................... 277

Schedule ..................................................................... 278

Quality ........................................................................ 278

Deliverables ................................................................ 278

Milestones .................................................................. 278

55.4 Compare actual to plan............................................... 279

Positive variance ......................................................... 279

Negative variance ....................................................... 280

Reporting variances .................................................... 280

55.5 Identifying causes for variances - impact analyses ..... 281

Causes for variances ................................................... 281

Analyzing the impact .................................................. 282 Corrective actions ....................................................... 283

Behind schedule .......................................................... 284

Over Budget ................................................................ 285

Adding People ............................................................. 286

Adding technology ...................................................... 286

Reducing quality ......................................................... 286

Reducing scope ........................................................... 287

55.7 Revised project plan .................................................... 288

55.8 Reporting .................................................................... 289

55.9 Comments on project reporting ................................. 290

Team members: .......................................................... 290

Intermediate management: ........................................ 290

Top management, Project Client Executive and Executive

Sponsor ....................................................................... 291

56 Graphical Reporting Tools .......................................... 291

56.1 Gantt chart .................................................................. 292

56.2 Milestone chart ........................................................... 294

56.3 People loading ............................................................ 295

56.4 Cost or S-curve ............................................................ 295

Planned Value or time phased budget ........................ 296

Earned Value ............................................................... 296

Actual Cost .................................................................. 296

However, the schedule delay shown in the graph means

that some tasks are taking more time than originally

planned and that may lead to critical path convergence or

even the creation of a new critical path after time. ........ 298

56.5 Work Breakdown Structure ......................................... 298

57 Change Management ................................................ 298

57.1 Change control ............................................................ 299

57.2 The change control process ........................................ 300

The process ................................................................. 300

Detect a possible change ............................................ 300

Verify authority ........................................................... 302

Document, Log and Submit ......................................... 302

Review and evaluate ................................................... 302

Determine impact on the project ............................... 303

Accept, Reject or Rework ............................................ 304

Log, Notify and Integrate in the Plan .......................... 304


Chapter XII Project close-out and lessons learned305

58 Completing the Project ............................................. 307

58.1 NEXT Step - Project Close-out ..................................... 308

Tasks to complete during the Close-Out Phase ........... 308

Transferring responsibility .......................................... 308

Complete Project Records........................................... 309

Document results – “As Built” ..................................... 310

Client Acceptance ....................................................... 310

Releasing Project Resources ....................................... 311

Preparing for payments .............................................. 311

Rewards/Punishment/Party ........................................ 311

Close Project Office ..................................................... 312

59 Lessons Learned Session ........................................... 313

60 Post Review Meeting ................................................ 315

60.1 Goal ............................................................................ 315

60.2 Questions to answer during meeting .......................... 316

Scope: ......................................................................... 316

Schedule: .................................................................... 317

Cost and Budget: ......................................................... 317

Execution and Control: ............................................... 317

Managing Teams: ........................................................ 317

Managing relationships: ............................................. 318

Other questions: ......................................................... 318

61 Document and Archive Project History ...................... 319

Annexes.............................................................. 321

Annex 1 – Abbreviations ..................................... 323

Annex 2 – Definitions .......................................... 325

Annex 3 – Symbols and Formulas ........................ 333

Annex 4 – Elements of Decision Making .......... 337

62 Break Even Analyses.................................................. 338

63 Decision or Preference Matrix ................................... 341

64 Decision Theory ........................................................ 343

Annex 5 – Financial Parameters .......................... 351

65 Return on Investment ............................................... 351

66 Pay Back Time (PBT) .................................................. 351

67 Compounded Interest, Future Value (FV) and Present

Value (PV) ................................................................. 352


68 Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) ...................................... 355

69 Net Present Value (NPV) ............................................ 356

70 Internal Rate of Return (IRR) ..................................... 357

Annex 6 – Exercise Crashing ................................ 361

Index .................................................................. 367

Bibliography ....................................................... 371


For Franciscus De Ceuster

who left us too early


I want to thank my family and all my friends who have

always supported me and were especially there for me at

the end of last year when I was infected with H1N1 and

had very small chances to recover. Their energy, concerns

and help made it possible for me to recover remarkably

well and finish this work.

I explicitly want to thank Guy without whom I surely would

not be alive anymore. Of course my parents, my brother

Steven and my family, Ludo, Dan, Michal, Miluše, Erik and

Irena.

A special thank also for the Doctors and Nurses at the FN

MOTOL Hospital in Prague for their remarkable

persistence, professionalism and creativity for giving me

my life back.


Introduction - I

Introduction

hen I started my career in the Belgian

Military in the early eighties, project

management was from the start an important part of my job. At that time, unfortunately we did not really follow a strict methodology as today; nevertheless projects were there from the beginning even without calling it a “project” as such. We were just combining the things we learned because we knew that applying them properly would lead to a correct and timely completion of the project. In the case of a military operation – which would be done in wartime – we never took into consideration the cost when planning the work. We only looked at time efficiency and resource availability. After completing the Military Academy and obtaining my Masters Degree in Construction and Mechanics, I fulfilled specialized military training going from military tactics to military constructions and planning of operations. It was during this six month period in my military career that I learned about Pert and Gantt and other project related things like Critical Path. The knowledge we obtained was then used in military operations which of course can also be considered as projects. The large projects start with the strategic considerations and plans of the general staff until the small tasks can be identified. The initial lesson I learned, was that projects are a kind ofcut-andast type of systems which allow you to split up a large and complex work into small, simple and manageable chunks of work that, when executed properly, allow you to achieve the initial work you intended. W

Introduction - II

It is like the nice building boxes some of us

assembled as kids or still do. Those of you who still

remember these days or are still assembling these

building kits - my grandmother, now 98 years old

always said that it were toys for small children – know

that you received a large number of numbered parts

and a step by step building instruction.

Following these steps carefully, will lead to the

completion of the model as it is represented on the

box. You may also have noticed that, although the

instructions are chronologically numbered, you could

do some of the work in a different order than

suggested.

Later, when working for the military construction

agency, I was responsible for a large number of

military construction projects. The work was very

similar to the normal civilian building industry and

comparable with developers: we would make the

project description including all work to be done and

then the company with the lowest or best bid would

execute the plan. We then would be doing thefollow

up while the contractor would build according to his

own project plan.

Later on, after I left the military and spent some time

in the aviation and the building sectors, I joined “Big

Blue” or IBM and later moved to another famous blue

chip company AT&T. It was at that time that project

management came back to me and started with my

certification through the AT&T training program and

culminating in my certification as PMP.

During PMI chapter meetings I was surprised how

many people were involved in IT projects while almost

no other sectors were represented. It was as if Project

Management was something only for IT people and

not for the others. When starting my company in

Prague and introducing my training program to the

Introduction - III

Czech market I also found out that many people

asked: “Can this also be used for disciplines other

than IT?” Of course, I would then respond. IT is a very

young discipline compared to all the other disciplines

that built the experiences for the Project Management

Institute’s (PMI) methodology as described in the

Project Management Body of Knowledge or PMBOK

©

.

Project Management Methodologies have been built

upon years of experience. Just think about some of

the projects that were done in the past: Panama

Canal, Hoover Dam, Minuteman and Polaris Missile

projects and many others. Most of these projects

have been done when the word ICT did not mean

anything yet. Methodologies can be generalized or

specialized or are adaptable. Some larger companies

build their own methodology based upon one or more

general methodologies like PMI, Prince2, IPMA and

others. Building your own methodology makes it

possible to fine tune them to fit your business and

company specifics.

The elements you will find in this and other books will

go deeper into other topics related to project

management are based upon the PMI methodology

and will use its specific terminology. However,

everything relating to tools and techniques and

practical situations are generally applicable with

whatever methodology you are or will be using. Many

examples are taken out of my years of experience

doing project management. Do not forget, many of

the skills we need are also used in many other

disciplines and therefore can be very useful to learn.

This book consists of 12 chapters which will lead you

through the different phases of a project. The first and

the second chapter introduce a number of terms and

terminology that will be used further in the book.

Starting from chapter 3, we will define the project,

start planning it and finally execute (chapter 11) and

Introduction - IV

close-out (chapter 12) the project. The entire overview

is set up in a comprehensive way to lead you from

start to finish through the project.

Our experience is that this way of presenting project

management creates a lively view for our students

and readers by showing what happens when we do

projects. It also shows that we have a lot of freedom

related to project success and that a good

understanding of the initial needs is necessary to

define a successful project. Many projects start with a

definition of the final solution and nobody ever seems

to wonder if the proposed solution is really the best

solution to offer. In our competitive world, spending

too much money because the project definition was

not done optimally means that the profitability of your

business case may be influenced negatively.

Chapter I

Terminology and

Definitions

Focus on Project Success

Chapter I - 3

roject management has become a separate

discipline in our everyday lives. Many people

are using different methodologies and it is necessary for those people to use the same terminology in order to understand each other when cooperating. It is clear that a general methodology as defined in the PMBOK

©

by the PMI is generally

understandable by all people who are using this

methodology.

Some large companies like IBM, AT&T, KBC and

many others have developed their own methodology

taking into account their specific needs. In addition to

the standard definitions as in the general

methodology, they changed or added terms,

developed forms and reporting procedures. In some

cases, they even developed their own training

program.

Not only large companies will have advantages when

applying a proven project management methodology

to improve performance, small and medium size

companies may benefit from it too. There are many

myths and misunderstandings related to projects and

project management. Some of them, we will discuss

or mention in this book. On the other hand, when you

have already been working in the project

management area or as a projects manager, you may

have noticed that many things we regularly do have a

lot in common with the project work we do in the office

or in some distant location.

What do you think about going on a trip, planning

your wedding or just doing the household? Of course,

we will not always formally do as we do with large

projects; nevertheless, these “small” things are also

projects. We will see later what the specific

characteristics of a project are.

P


Terminology and definitions

Chapter I - 4

It is clear that a good project management

methodology has to be easy applicable, scalable and

adaptable to a large number of situations and

disciplines. It is clear that our project team when

going on a trip will be significantly smaller than the

project team that developed the new Airbus 800 or

the Ariane V rocket.

The work of the project manager is not always a

simple job. In many cases, he or she will be

confronted with many new challenges and will have to

find new and creative solutions to resolve issues

related to technology, organization, finance and

people. It is clear that a project manager is NOT and

administrative person who receives papers, fills them

out classifies them and send it back to the next level.

Project managers need many people skills in order to

negotiate with clients, team members and other

stakeholders, motivate people, provide solutions for

issues and many others.

I have seen many times that some secretary was

promoted “project manager” since it is only an

administrative job. It is clear that this is a great recipe

for disaster. They finally will not understand what is

happening and will not intervene as is expected from

a real project manager. They probably will sit, wait

and accept what is happening.

A project manager has to be able to work with people

and these skills are the most difficult to acquire. It is

the same with a good salesperson or painter. You can

send anybody to any training hoping that they will

become a top salesperson or a Rembrandt or a

Rubens. Training will only give you tools and

techniques and will of course improve your skills;

however, courses will not turn a frog into a prince!

Next to the topics discussed in this course, a project

manager should get specialized in many soft skills


Focus on Project Success

Chapter I - 5

areas and courses like negotiations, emotional

intelligence, Neuro-linguistic Programming,

presentation skills, leading successful meetings,

assertiveness, leadership and many others.

In many cases, it may be easier to select a person

who already has a natural tendency towards

leadership, management and sales and train that

person into the specific technology of the project. In

many large projects, the technical mix will be so large

that knowing the specific technologies that are used

becomes impossible. It is however a clear fact that a

project manager who also understands the underlying

techniques and thus better understands the work the

people in the project teams are doing will get more

credit and respect than a person who doesn’t know

anything about what is going on.

During some meetings I organized, some people

asked me the question about the knowledge of the

project manager related to the project. I then

explained to them that the training of the project

manager is comparable with the training of a painter.

The painter learns about techniques how to make the

picture but he does not get the genius to be a

Rembrandt, Rubens, Dali or Picasso. This genius is

inherent to the person and can only be enhanced by

the training they get. Somebody who does not have

this genius will never get it because he or she went to

an art school.



Focus on Project Success

Chapter I - 7

1 What is a “project”

The first step when talking about project

management is to define what we mean with the

word “project” is and what it is not. Of course,

many definitions exist and interpretations may be

different from person to person and from industry

to industry. You may have heard the word already

many times in different contexts around you, on

TV or on the radio. Did you ever question if the

meaning was the same every time?

Every project management methodology has its

specific meaning for the word “project” and the

definitions may be completely different to describe

the same thing. Even different authors may have

their own interpretation of a project. Every source

we would consult may have a different definition.

My first research for a suitable definition started

by consulting some old dictionaries I bought in

Canada during some holidays and found a

somewhat simplified definitions in the sense of

“doing something in an organized way”. Well, this

should certainly true for a project and for many

other things too. Following this definition your

everyday job – even when it is not project related

– hopefully fits to this description. The work done

in many factories also fit with this definition and

much more. Many we finally will not categorize as

a project. Therefore, our standard dictionary does

not provide an adequate definition for project.

When we look at the different definitions which

have been published by a large number of authors

which have written books about project

management, we can find a number of elements

that are in common and that will give us a better

understanding what we project managers mean

with the term “project”.


Terminology and Definitions

Chapter I - 8

Every project has at least the following six

characteristics, which we will describe in detail

further:

Objective

Activities or tasks

Unique

Time

Budget

Service or product

Specifications 1.1 Objective The objective relates to the final goal to achieve of the undertaking. Some examples are build a warehouse, install a new Wide Area Network (WAN), build a new airplane, install new software, and design a new software package or whatever you can imagine you would want to do. The objective should be clearly stated and success criteria should be available to verify if the objective was obtained or not. Without an objective, we would not know in what direction to proceed. It may lead us to very exiting places nevertheless, any way we would go to would be good, but without an objective, there can be no project! 1.2 Activities or Tasks When we define a clear objective there will have to be some action undertaken to reach the objective. In order to reach the (complex) objective, we will subdivide the work in activities and tasks that we can easily manage. Completing them will lead us straight to the objective.

Focus on Project Success

Chapter I - 9

The tasks will have their own natural order, which

means that some tasks are completely

independent of all others while most of them can

only be started once its predecessors have been

completed. The relationship that exists between

all the tasks are unique for each project and will

provide the project manager and team a logical

sequence in which the project has to be executed.

Changing the natural order will prevent you from

completing the project as it was initially defined.

Some examples of natural order are:

• You cannot build the roof of a house before the

walls have been completed

1

;

• It is impossible to complete a flight test of an

airplane before it has been completely built;

• You cannot put the septic tank into the ground

before digging the hole.

1.3 Unique

Projects relate to endeavors, which have never

been done before and thus are unique. It is in a

way like the voyages of Starship Enterprise in the

science fiction series Star Trek going to unknown

places or like they said it in the series “To go

where no one has ever been before”.

Of course, the term “unique” may be interpreted in

a more general sense and does not have to be

applied on everything we do in the project. Some

1 The statement about the roof sounds very logical, nevertheless

we could consider a different way of working were we would

work with prefabricated elements. In that case, we could easily

build a roof separately from the rest of the house and when the

walls are completed, put the roof on top of the walls. Special

techniques may have to be applied; nevertheless, the work

could be done differently.


Terminology and Definitions

Chapter I - 10

elements may be generic or have been done

before while others are new. The first airplane

builders were really pioneers and did many things

by trial and error. They probably did not use any of

the project management tools we have today.

Nevertheless, they were doing something unique.

Since then, many airplanes have been built and

many of them were unique.

The same, we can say about building a house.

Even an identical house in a different place will be

unique because of the specific conditions at that

place. The construction of the house in some

circumstances may be integrated in a process

where a company has a factory in which houses

are built on customer order. The house itself you

could select from a catalogue, complete the

necessary formalities like signing a contract,

obtaining the financing and payments and the

company will start building it. On the other hand,

your house will be unique because it will have to

be transported to your land and the final

installation and completion will be unique

compared to the others.

When I was working in AT&T, I was part of a team

selling and implementing network services –

including all security and other services that AT&T

offered – for a set of customers. Although we were

offering preferably standardized services, the final

design for each customer was unique.

1.4 Time

Projects are limited in time. They start at a specific

date and end after completion, preferably on time

or even early. Once the project starts, the tasks

are being executed – each task has its own

duration – and project progress is measured.

Ideally, tasks are completed within the estimated


Focus on Project Success

Chapter I - 11

time or earlier. In many cases, the duration is

longer than estimated and in some circumstances,

this may influence the project duration and

completion date.

We all know these “small” projects around us like

building your house, reconstruction of a road

nearby or installing some new software in your

company that started on time or not and which

seem to be never ending due to delays in project

completion. Although you were given the planned

end date of the project, it did not complete on

time.

Projects will finally end and thus are limited in time

where processes keep on repeating the same

thing repeatedly. We can consider the design of

the first Lexus car including the production

process with test runs by Toyota as a project while

the production itself is repeating the same thing all

over again until the model and the production

process changes and is called a process.

The end date of projects may be set by some

external factors and then becomes in fact the

driving factor for the project. This was the case for

the Y2K

2

project. All programs – in any case the

most important ones – had to be adapted to the

year 2000 by removing all the old programming

2 Y2K refers to the Year 2000 project. At that time, all programs

had to be verified and corrected if necessary. During the early

time of computers, capacity was very low and expensive. The

programmers at that time wrote the year 1975 as 75 which

reduced capacity dramatically. The problem was that the

programs using this method couldn’t make any difference

between the year 1910 and 2010. This could have had a lot of

consequences for example when calculating the interests on

your money, navigation systems and other vital systems. It

was therefore very important to verify all these programs and

adapt them to the year 2000.


Terminology and Definitions

Chapter I - 12

simplifications. The time constraint, in this case,

was the most important problem and it would have

been nonsense to allow additional time to

complete the work. Of course, some risks existed

that delays would occur and that it would be

difficult to complete everything up to the last

program. In order to secure the most important

programs priority lists were made so that the

crucial programs would not be forgotten.

1.5 Budget

Since doing projects means working on things, it

also means that the effort has to be paid. We

need people and other resources to do projects,

so we have to pay for these relative to the effort

each delivers. Unfortunately we are not living in a

world without restraints so, the people we work

with, the resources we need and the money we

have to work with are limited so we have to

organize them optimally.

Once we know the cost for each task and the time

the task will be executed, it is possible to specify

the budget on a weekly basis and represent that

budget in a diagram, which is thetimehased

budget. Starting from these estimates, we can

build the cumulative budget, which shows in time

how much money we are planning to spend by the

end of the project is known as the Budget at

Completion or BAC.

It is clear that the initial budget or initial base line

is just an initial estimate of how we expect to be

spending our money from the beginning of the

project. Once we have changes in specifications,

costs, planning and other factors the real

spending will differ from the initial base line or due

to officially approved changes, a new baseline is

defined taking into account the new information.


Focus on Project Success

Chapter I - 13

1.6 Service or product

The result of a project is either a service or a

product in the most general way. The existence of

the project is only justified by the fact that we want

to realize something to fulfill a specific need.

There may be many or just one reason to do the

project.

The reason may be legal, environmental or purely

business and may be motivated by a business

case showing a profitability that has been

projected to be obtained once the product or

service has been completed or installed. The

business case may also relate to savings that will

be realized once the project is completed.

In fact, the project starts with a need and results in

a solution. It is very important to identify clearly

the need and not to mix this with the solution. The

initial study of the need may lead to different

possible solutions and selecting the best possible

solution is a very important factor in assuring

project success. We will discuss this further later

in this book.

1.7 Specifications

Each project or service has to be described by the

specifications it should have in order to comply

with the initial needs and the selected solution.

Identifying and describing these specifications in

detail is very important.

Many people make the mistake only to describe

what specifications have to be included and forget

to specify what is NOT included. Unclear

specifications will certainly lead to a bad project

and that is certainly not our goal!


Terminology and Definitions

Chapter I - 14

The deliverable specifications are the baseline for

determining project completion and success and

are included in the project charter. This document

is in many cases a contractual agreement

between the project manager and the project

client. The project manager should at all times

keep the specifications in mind when planning,

executing and closing the project. He or she does

not have the liberty to change the specifications.

Although the project specifications are an

important part of the project charter, they are not

written in stone and can be changed during the

project. The project change process controls

these changes. Once the project team approves a

change, the project planning, budget and baseline

will be adjusted to represent the changes. It is

clear that all project members have to be informed

about the approved changes and everybody

should start working with the new data.

All uncontrolled changes, also called “scope

creep” have to be avoided because they will

influence the project result, planning and budget.

Uncontrolled changes may be a reason for

variances between baseline and actual. The



       
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