Effective Project Management: Traditional, Agile, Extreme, Sixth Edition is a MUST read book. Whether you are an expert or a beginner, you must read this book by Robert K. Wysocki, Ph.D. The author of this book has more than 40 years of experience as a project management consultant and trainer. Furthermore, he refer to the Project Management Institute PMI process groups and knowledge area as a basis of his explanations.
My Reading Through Effective Project Management Text Book
“The contemporary project environment is characterized by high speed, high change, lower costs, complexity, uncertainty, and a host of other factors.”
“Effective project management is not the product of a rigid or fixed set of steps and processes to be followed on every project. Rather the choice of project management approach is based on having done due diligence on the project specifics and defined an approach that makes sense.”
“The extent to which change is expected will affect the choice of a best-fi t PMLC model.”
- When the goal and solution are clear, it generates the Traditional Project Management (TPM) category.
- When the goal is clear but the solution is not, it generates the Agile Project Management (APM) category.
- When neither the goal nor the solution is clear, it generates the Extreme Project Management (xPM) category.
- And finally when the goal is not clear but the solution is, it generates the Emertxe Project Management (MPx) category (though this may seem nonsensical, it is not — more on this one later).
Every project that has ever existed or will exist falls into one and only one of these four categories. Each category gives rise to a PMLC, and each PMLC has at least one specific project management approach in it. This four-category classification gives rise to five PMLC models. It is these models — their recognition and use — that is the subject of this book.
The definition of project management “organized common sense”
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The WBS is a hierarchical description of all work that must be done to complete the project as defined in the RBS
The terms “activity” and “task” have been used interchangeably among project managers and project management software packages. Some think of activities being made up of tasks, others say that tasks are made up of activities, and still others use one term to represent both concepts. In this book, I refer to higher-level work as activities. An activity is composed of two or more tasks. When the tasks that make up an activity are complete, the activity is complete.
Uses for the WBS
The WBS has four uses: as a thought-process tool, an architectural-design tool, a planning tool, and a project-status-reporting tool.
Joint Project Planning Session (JPPS).
WARNING Do not build the WBS by walking around the workplace or e-mail space and asking participants to complete their part of the WBS. It may
seem like a faster way to generate the WBS and it is much easier than conducting the JPPS, but it is a ticket to failure. You need several pairs of eyes looking
at the WBS and critiquing it for completeness.
Six Criteria to Test for Completeness in the WBS
Developing the WBS is the most critical part of the JPPS. If you do this part right, the rest is comparatively easy. How do you know that you’ve done this
right? Each activity must possess the following six characteristics in order for the WBS to be deemed to be complete — that is, completely decomposed. When
an activity has reached that status, it changes from an activity to a task. The six characteristics that an activity must possess to be called a task are as follows:
- Status and completion are measurable.
- The activity is bounded.
- The activity has a deliverable.
- Time and cost are easily estimated.
- Activity duration is within acceptable limits.
- Work assignments are independent.
Pages 176 & 177
The three general approaches to building the WBS are as follows:
Noun-type approaches — These approaches define the deliverables of the project work in terms of the components (physical or functional).
These are the requirements that populate the RBS. This approach is the one currently recommended by PMI.
Verb-type approaches — These approaches define the deliverable of the project work in terms of the actions that must be done to produce that
deliverable. Verb-type approaches include the design-build-test-implement and project objectives approaches. This approach was recommended by
PMI prior to the current release of PMBOK.
Organizational approaches — These approaches define the deliverable of the project work in terms of the organizational units that will work on
the project. This type of approach includes the department, process, and geographic location approaches.
Estimation is the one area where most project teams have trouble. For one thing, there is no consistency. One person might be optimistic, another pessimistic,
and you won’t know which unless you have had prior substantiating evidence of one or the other.
The duration of a project is the elapsed time in business working days, not including weekends, holidays, or other non-work days.
Work effort is labor required to complete a task. That labor can be consecutive or nonconsecutive hours.
NOTE When estimating task duration, you have a choice to make: Do you want to estimate hours of billable labor to complete the task, or do you want to
estimate the clock time required to complete the task? You will probably want to do both. The labor hours are needed in order to bill the client. The elapsed
clock time is needed to estimate the project completion date. Some project managers will estimate labor and convert it to duration by dividing labor time
by an established efficiency factor, typically ranging from 0.6 to 0.75.
The duration of a task is influenced by the amount of resources scheduled to work on it.
The crashpoint is the point where adding more resources will increase task duration.
A second consideration for the project manager is the amount of reduction in duration that results from adding resources. The relationship is not linear.
Consider the chair example again.
By adding the nth person to a task, you create the need for n more communication links. Who is going to do what? How can the work of several people be coordinated?
For example, painting a house is a partition able task. Rooms can be done by different painters, and even each wall can be done
by a different painters. The point of diminishing returns is not an issue here. Conversely, the task of writing a computer program may not be partition able at
all. Adding a second programmer creates all kinds of work that wasn’t present with a single programmer — for example, choosing a language and/or naming
conventions to use, integration testing, and so on.
Variation in Task Duration
Because you cannot know what factors will be operative when work is underway on a task, you cannot know exactly how long it will take. There will, of course, be varying estimates with varying precision for each task. One of your goals in estimating task duration is to define the task to a level of granularity such that your estimates have a narrow variance — that is, the estimate is as good as you can get it at the planning stages of the project.
Varying skill levels Your strategy is to estimate task duration based on using people of average skills assigned to work on the task. In actuality, this may not happen. You may get a higher- or lower-skilled person assigned to the task, causing the actual duration to vary from planned duration. These varying skill levels will be both a help and a hindrance to you.
Unexpected events — Murphy’s Law is lurking around every bend in the road and will surely make his presence known, but in what way and at what time you do not know. Random acts of nature, vendor delays, incorrect shipments of materials, traffic jams, power failures, and sabotage are but a few of the possibilities.
Efficiency of worker’s time — Every time a worker is interrupted, it takes additional time to get back to the level of productivity attained prior to the interruption. You cannot control the frequency or time of interruptions, but you do know that they will happen. As to their effect on staff productivity, you can only guess. Some will be more affected than others.
Mistakes and misunderstandings — Despite all of your efforts to clearly and concisely describe each task that is to be performed, you will most
likely miss a few. This will take its toll in rework or scrapping semi completed work.
Common cause variation — A task’s duration will vary simply because duration is a random variable. The process has a natural variation, and there is nothing you do can to cause a favorable change in that variation. It is there and must be accepted.
Six Methods for Estimating Task Duration
- Similarity to other activities
- Historical data
- Expert advice
- Delphi technique
- Three-point technique
- Wide-band Delphi technique
Applying the Delphi Technique
The Delphi technique can produce good estimates in the absence of expert advice. This is a group technique that extracts and summarizes the knowledge of the group to arrive at an estimate. After the group is briefed on the project and the nature of the task, each individual in the group is asked to make his or her best guess of the task duration. The results are tabulated and presented to the group in a histogram labeled First Pass, as shown in Figure 5-9. Participants whose estimates fall in the outer quartiles are asked to share the reason for their guess. After listening to the arguments, each group member is asked to guess again. The results are presented as a histogram labeled Second Pass, and again the outer quartile estimates are defended. A third guess is made, and the histogram plotted is labeled Third Pass. Final adjustments are allowed. The average of the third guess is used as the group’s estimate. Even though the technique seems rather simplistic, it has been shown to be effective in the absence of expert advice.
Page 190 and 191
Applying the Three-Point Technique
Task duration is a random variable. If it were possible to repeat the task several times under identical circumstances, duration times would vary. That variation may be tightly grouped around a central value, or it might be widely dispersed.
Optimistic — The optimistic time is defined as the shortest duration one has experienced or might expect to experience given that everything happens as expected.
Pessimistic — The pessimistic time is that duration that one would experience (or has experienced) if everything that could go wrong did go wrong, yet the task was completed.
Most likely — The most likely time is that time that they usually experience.
Then the estimated duration is given by the formula (O + 4M + P) / 6
Applying the Wide-Band Delphi Technique
Combining the Delphi and three-point methods results in the wide-band Delphi technique. It involves a panel, as in the Delphi method. In place of a single estimate, the panel members are asked, at each iteration, to give their optimistic, pessimistic, and most likely estimates for the duration of the chosen task. The results are compiled, and any extreme estimates are removed. Averages are computed for each of the three estimates, and the averages are used as the optimistic, pessimistic, and most likely estimates of task duration.