<< . .

. 5
( : 16)



. . >>

to Step F, the go/no-go decision.
In the latter case, the negotiations are more complex. Assuming that Step E is being undertaken because the
objectives do not include sufficient time and/or funds for the project, there are four alternatives for
management to consider:
1. Alter the schedule and cost objectives, so that you have sufficient time and funds to accomplish the
work. You will have to assure management that the revision results in a project that is economically
viable and will produce an acceptable return on investment (ROI). (This alternative will not be
acceptable in the absence of such a return, unless the situation is one in which an external requirement
or regulatory requirement is being fulfilled by the project and cannot be fulfilled in a more
cost-effective manner.)
2. Develop a reduced set of technical objectives that can be accomplished within the time and funding
limitations established by senior management. If you recommend this approach, senior management
will seek assurances that the proposed product will nevertheless meet market expectations and provide
an acceptable ROI.
3. Implement a combination of the first two alternatives. Recommend a modest increase in time and
funding, coupled with a small reduction in the technical objectives. If you recommend this solution,
management will want the same assurances as in alternatives 1 and 2 above.
4. Cancel the project. If you believe that the ROI cannot be increased to become attractive or that the
product will fail to meet market expectations, this recommendation is the best choice. Management will
seek assurance that all approaches to achieving the objectives have been explored before approving
cancellation.


Previous Table of Contents Next
Products | Contact Us | About Us | Privacy | Ad Info | Home

Use of this site is subject to certain Terms & Conditions, Copyright © 1996-2000 EarthWeb Inc. All rights
reserved. Reproduction whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of
EarthWeb is prohibited. Read EarthWeb's privacy statement.
Project Management
by Joan Knudson and Ira Bitz
AMACOM Books
ISBN: 0814450431 Pub Date: 01/01/91

Search this book:
Search Tips

Advanced Search


Previous Table of Contents Next



Regardless of the alternative you recommend and senior management decides on, there are only two
Title
acceptable outcomes to this process: (1) a plan acceptable to you, the project team, the client, and senior
management or (2) cancellation of the project. There is one other possibility, however”one that we do not
encourage: taking on the project on a best-efforts basis, without changing the project objectives. This
approach only postpones the time when the true cost or time needed to complete the project must become a
----------- concern of senior management.
If Step E is being undertaken because the project objectives include an overabundant amount of time and/or
funds, there are thee alternatives:
1. Senior management might reduce the time and budget, with provisions for contingency plans. They
will want assurances that the funds taken from the project will not be required later.
2. The technical objectives could be adjusted at no increase in the time and funds allocated.
Management will want assurances that any added scope will not cause schedule or cost problems later
in the project.
3. Senior management might attempt a combination of the first two alternatives: a modest decrease in
time and funding coupled with a smaller increase in the technical objectives. If you recommend this,
senior management will want the same assurances.
Regardless of the alternative you recommend and senior management adopts, there is only one acceptable
outcome: a plan acceptable to you, your team, the client, and senior management. The other possibility”a
best-efforts approach to the project”does not apply in this situation.

Step F: Make a Go/No-Go Decision
A management review should be conducted when the plan is completed. The scope is evaluated to confirm
that the appropriate product will be produced, and the cost, schedule, and resource allocations are reviewed to
ensure that they fall within the project boundaries. Then the plan is revised as required. There is a possibility
of a no-go decision at this time if the costs are considered excessive in relation to the projected benefits, if the
resources will not be available, or if the project does not fit in with management™s strategic goals and
objectives.

Step G: Prepare Schedules and Budget
The preliminary plans developed in Step B can now be finalized. These final plans consist of three report
documents: a schedule (which portrays when each task begins, its duration, and its end date on a time-scale
calendar), a resource utilization chart (which indicates the allocation of each team member or pool of team
members per unit of time), and a project budget in the form of a spread sheet or graphic representation. We
thoroughly explore the techniques required for producing these documents in the next chapter.

Step 4: Balance the Plan
Balancing is the most challenging stage in developing the plan. Balancing limited resources of the plan should
occur within the project and against other project and nonproject efforts. Projects compete with each other and
with nonproject work for two scarce commodities: human resources and funding. The typical organization
lacks sufficient staff to perform all project and nonproject work approved by senior management and
sufficient funds to perform all needed work. For these reasons, balancing is critical.
Frequently organizations apportion their funds so that approved projects are adequately funded. A lesser
number of organizations allocate human resources by dividing the staff into pools or groups, one of which is
available for projects. But regardless of how the allocation between project and nonproject work is made,
individual projects compete for the limited human resources and funding available. The priority of the
projects influences balancing. Before balancing between projects can occur, there is a need for balancing
within each project.
Balancing a single project can help to ensure that its personnel demands do not exceed the organization™s
capacity. Time-phased resource and asset utilization plans can be laid out in tables or graphs and can be
produced by project management software packages. If a team member is overcommitted, then you as project
manager (in conjunction with the functional manager when necessary) need to analyze the reason for the
overcommitment and to resolve the problem by using resource balancing (leveling) techniques.
In an organization with a significant project workload, management of resource supply versus demand is a
key concern. Some resources are elastic in that supply can be readily increased to meet demand. Others are
nonelastic and a significant lead time and/or cost is necessary to increase supply in order to meet the demand.
Supply versus demand reporting should be performed for both elastic and nonelastic resources. When there is
a significant difference between supply and demand, balancing, or leveling, is performed.
Resource leveling requires knowledge of anticipated supply and demand. Supply is typically determined by
looking at the current size of the resource pool available and projecting changes to that pool over the period of
the forecast. Demand is calculated by adding the requirements of all approved projects to the nonproject
workload of the organization. Supply and demand are examined over a period of months, and periods of
underutilization and overutilization of resource pools can be identified. Resource leveling occurs with the
attempt to reduce demand during a period of forecasted overutilization or to increase demand during a period
of forecasted underutilization. (We illustrate the details of leveling in the next chapter.)
Once individual project balancing has occurred, project needs are balanced with those of previously approved
projects. Multiproject balancing can be performed manually, although the amount of data to be manipulated
makes it complex and time-consuming. Balancing can be automated by delegating the decision making to a
computer algorithm. The most effective approach may be computer-assisted balancing, where management
utilizes the software as a decision support tool to achieve the required balance. Multiproject reports, based on
the entire workload of the organization unit, are produced to support this step. Omission of any component of
the workload from the reports renders the entire process meaningless. Several components of these data are
the responsibility of the functional managers (e.g., the percentage of time allocated for administrative activity,
nonproject activity, and vacations).


Previous Table of Contents Next
Products | Contact Us | About Us | Privacy | Ad Info | Home

Use of this site is subject to certain Terms & Conditions, Copyright © 1996-2000 EarthWeb Inc. All rights
reserved. Reproduction whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of
EarthWeb is prohibited. Read EarthWeb's privacy statement.
Project Management
by Joan Knudson and Ira Bitz
AMACOM Books
ISBN: 0814450431 Pub Date: 01/01/91

Search this book:
Search Tips

Advanced Search


Previous Table of Contents Next



Step 5: Approve and Publish the Plan
Title

At this point, a document recording the plan targets (target completion date, target cost, target resource
utilization, and target asset utilization) and the objective maxima (latest completion date, maximum cost,
maximum resource utilization, and maximum asset utilization) should be prepared. This is the agreement
----------- among the project manager, the project client, senior management, and functional managers (where
appropriate) and serves as a basis for negotiating changes in scope during the project, as well as measuring the
team™s performance. These agreements should be signed by the appropriate parties and distributed. Keep in
mind, though, that this stage of the planning process cannot begin until balancing is complete.
Obtaining commitments for project funding is a complex undertaking. When projects extend beyond one
fiscal year, obtaining a commitment for the total funds required may be impossible. In many organizations,
funding commitments are made on an annual basis. Where the availability of funds has been determined
during the balancing stage, securing the fund commitment should be a formality. If difficulties arise in this
effort, revisiting Step 4 may be required.
In essence, obtaining commitment is the acid test of your performance in developing an integrated plan. If the
process has been followed exactly, obtaining functional manager commitments to the plan is a pro forma
exercise since their ability to make the commitments has been determined in the balancing stage, and any
resource problems have been resolved. However, if you have not adhered to the planning process, the
functional managers will refuse to commit to the resource plans, and you will have to repeat portions of the
planning process. The formality of placing the functional manager™s signature on a commitment sheet, to be
used as a cover sheet for the plan, should be all that is involved in this step.
Similarly, obtaining senior management approval should be a pro forma exercise. Management has already
reviewed the plan, and now, more than likely, they want to determine if the functional managers™
commitments have been obtained before signing the cover sheet. Since quality assurance is a major thrust of
management, the plan may be checked to ensure that there are adequate reviews of milestones for the end
products. Once senior management has approved the plan, changes to the plan must be managed. (This is
discussed in Chapter 6.)
The final step in the planning process is distribution of the integrated plan to the team, management, and other
interested parties. The schedule, resource, asset, cost, and achievement plans should be graphic in nature for
effective communication. Typically, work on the project begins during the planning process because many
projects have extremely tight schedules. But once the plan is completed, the team begins working from it
rather than on an ad hoc basis.

Strategic Planning
In order to implement the five-step planning model, a strategy for managing the conceptual versus detailed
planning is necessary. Conceptual planning is usually referred to as top-down planning, whereas detailed
planning is referred to as bottom-up planning. Most organizations do both. However, when a top-down plan
is prepared and presented to the client, who then accepts it, the project parameters of schedule, resource
requirements, and budget are often set in concrete. Often when the bottom-up plan is completed, it does not
match the committed parameters stated in the top-down plan.

Top-Down and Bottom-Up Planning
Top-down (or conceptual) planning begins with the development of the project™s technical objectives. The
technical objectives may be very detailed, or they may simply identify the major characteristics of the product
anticipated from the project. Top-down planning includes the development of a preliminary work breakdown
structure, which is not completed until later, during bottom-up planning. Once the major work tasks in the
WBS have been identified, estimates that are based on intuition or historical data are prepared and then used
to assemble the top-level project plan.
Bottom-up (or detailed) planning also begins with the development of a set of technical objectives for the
project; however, the technical objectives must be very detailed. Bottom-up planning also includes the
development of WBS. The WBS is completed down to the level of detail for each task that must be performed
in order to achieve the project objectives. Then estimates are assembled, from the bottom up, by the members
of the project team. Finally, the detailed project plan is assembled from the estimates.
Let™s work with an example. In Figure 4-1, the need or requirement for the work to be performed is illustrated
in the triangle. This triangle can be used to characterize the results of top-down and bottom-up planning. After
the client has developed a scope for the project, a partial WBS is formulated, presenting major elements of the
effort required. Then a cost and schedule objective for the project is established, from the top down, based on
the partial WBS and a host of factors external to the project, such as competitors™ faster time-to-market rates.
Figure 4-2 shows what can happen if only top-down planning is done. In this case, the WBS is only partial
and does not contain all of the tasks needed at a level of greater detail. The resulting project coverage,
provided by the WBS and estimate, contains no work that is irrelevant, but it may fail to contain certain
elements of work essential to meeting the project™s technical objectives.




Figure 4-1 Effort required to achieve the project objectives.
If the idea for the project is transmitted to the project manager and team without the benefit of top-down
planning, there may be a lack of direction on the project. Figure 4-3 shows what can happen if the project
manager elects to prepare only a bottom-up plan. All of the detailed elements of the work have been
identified, but included with them are a number of elements of work that are not essential to deliver the
technical objectives of the project. In addition, there is no strategic hierarchy of planning elements, an
oversight that will affect the manner in which the project is controlled. The cost and schedule objective for the
effort includes these unnecessary elements of work.
A combination of top-down and bottom-up planning will produce a radically different and much improved
result. After a top-down plan has been prepared, giving the project strategic direction and focus, and perhaps
after the effort has been approved, a detailed, bottom-up plan is completed. This planning effort begins with
the partial WBS prepared in the top-down planning effort. Then the WBS is fleshed out, and bottom-up
estimates are prepared for each work element. The result is a focused plan (Figure 4-4) in which top-down
planning provides the strategic focus, and bottom-up planning provides the detailed coverage. In order to
assemble a project plan that is thorough and contains all of the elements of work necessary to meet the project
objectives, but without containing unnecessary work, both top-down and bottom-up planning are necessary.
The two approaches complement each other and yield a plan that is most likely to reflect the true requirements
of the project.
Figure 4-2 Effort covered in the top-down plan.




Figure 4-3 Effort covered in the bottom-up plan.




Figure 4-4 Effort covered in a combination of top-down and bottom-up plans.


Previous Table of Contents Next




Products | Contact Us | About Us | Privacy | Ad Info | Home

Use of this site is subject to certain Terms & Conditions, Copyright © 1996-2000 EarthWeb Inc. All rights
reserved. Reproduction whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of
EarthWeb is prohibited. Read EarthWeb's privacy statement.
Project Management
by Joan Knudson and Ira Bitz
AMACOM Books
ISBN: 0814450431 Pub Date: 01/01/91

Search this book:
Search Tips

Advanced Search


Previous Table of Contents Next



There is a potential problem with the combined use of top-down and bottom-up planning, however. Often
Title
top-down planning is used as the basis for seeking project approval. The schedule and budget developed as
part of the top-down planning process are presented to senior management and/or the client to obtain their
approval for the expenditure of funds on the project. This is convenient and makes economic sense, because
the cost of developing the top-down plan is significantly less than that of the more detailed, bottom-up plan.
----------- But if the top-down plan is used as the basis for obtaining funding, there is no guarantee that the funding or
time frame approved for the project will be adequate until after the detailed, bottom-up plan has been
completed. We know of several instances in which there has been a considerable discrepancy between the
totals of the top-down plan and the totals of the bottom-up plan. How can this problem be avoided? The
answer is quite straightforward: by employing a rolling wave (or phased) approach to project planning.

A Rolling Wave Approach to Planning
How often have you been asked for estimates of the duration and cost of a project before thoroughly
understanding the scope and objectives of the effort that will be required? How often have you been correct?
Although assured that these estimates were only rough figures, how often were these top-down planning
figures set in concrete, never to change? What can be done to structure a more realistic alternative? Consider
an analogy.
You are an expert mountain climber standing at the bottom of an imposing mountain you have never seen
before. It is your job to climb this mountain and reach the bottom on the other side. The person who is
funding your expedition asks, “How long will it take to get to the other side of the mountain, and how much
money do you need?” Your thought processes are, “How do I know how long it is going to take to get to the
other side or how much money it will cost? I have never seen this mountain before.”
Would an “I don™t know” answer be satisfactory to your client? Probably not. You were hired because you are
an expert mountain climber and are expected to produce reasonable answers. If you shoot from the hip, the
accuracy of your guess will be suspect, and sooner or later you will have to confront your error. This is
top-down planning at its worst. There is no time to produce a bottom-up plan, but you know you will be held
accountable to the commitments made in the top-down planning process. You seem to be caught in a lose-lose
situation. Is there an alternative?
Consider the rolling wave approach illustrated in Figure 4-5. At the beginning of the wave, or climb (using
the mountain climber analogy), you are standing at the bottom of the mountain with minimal knowledge of
what is confronting you. But with your mountain climbing background and experience, combined with
historic data gathered from other people who have tried to climb this mountain, you approximate the time and
resources required. Note that the term is approximate, not estimate. This approximation should be presented
in a way that provides you with as much flexibility as possible. For example: It will take six to nine weeks to
climb the mountain, require ten to twelve people, and cost about $50,000, plus or minus 15 percent. These are
your top-down estimates. Because you are giving yourself room to alter your approximations over the life
cycle of the project, this approach suggests that the planning process rolls out detailed plans for the
foreseeable future and, as the project evolves, periodically reevaluates the schedule and budget developed in
the top-down planning process.




Figure 4-5 Rolling wave approach.

Simultaneously, provide the project client with a plan detailing everything required to prepare the party to
start moving up the mountain. Consider determining the necessary equipment, pinpointing the right people,
acquiring and studying information about this particular mountain, and plotting a route. This is called
scheduling through the first planning horizon. A planning horizon is described as planning out as far as you
can see. The target may be stated as number of days, the next phase of the project, or when the next major
milestone is reached. Up to this point, you have provided the client with a top-down plan of the time and
resources necessary to finish the total effort and a detailed estimate for the first planning horizon.
Now the benefits of rolling wave come into effect. In the mountain climbing analogy, once the equipment and
people required to make the climb have been selected and the route is mapped, planning the next phase
begins. This step, which is to acquire the resources and prepare for the start of the climb, is relatively easy.
Furthermore, the approximation of time and resources at this stage can be refined with a higher level of
accuracy and greater confidence. At each subsequent reevaluation, the projections of the final deadline and
dollars become more realistic. Eventually enough information will become available and the scope and
objectives well enough defined to prepare a bottom-up detailed plan for the remainder of the project. You
control using the detailed plan established for the first planning horizon. At the end of each phase, many
unknowns have been resolved, and many decisions have been made.

Saving Time and Funds With Historical Files
Over time, many projects bear a striking resemblance to others your organization has previously executed.
The planning process that we have described thus far is “from scratch”; we have used no historical data from
prior projects. When relevant historical data exist, planning can be accomplished more quickly and more
cheaply. A central repository for files coupled with expertise in the approach to project management is a
valuable asset.
Historical files, however, can be a two-edged sword. They can provide marvelous benefits; but if history is
used extensively and the members of the team do not participate in the review and modification of the
historical data being used, the team may lose a sense of ownership, commitment, and motivation. Moreover,
there is a tendency when using unedited history to repeat bad performance since the historical data may have
failed to set objectives correctly in the first place. The team must edit all historical data.
Even if there are no relevant historical data, the development of an integrated project plan may not be
completely from scratch. An organization that has a product development methodology or cycle can use it as a
generic work breakdown structure. Keep in mind, however, that every phase, task, and milestone included in a
generic work breakdown structure is not required on every project. The team must edit the generic model
much as they would edit a historical project of a similar nature in order to develop a sound plan with
meaningful commitments.


Previous Table of Contents Next
Products | Contact Us | About Us | Privacy | Ad Info | Home

Use of this site is subject to certain Terms & Conditions, Copyright © 1996-2000 EarthWeb Inc. All rights
reserved. Reproduction whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of
EarthWeb is prohibited. Read EarthWeb's privacy statement.
Project Management
by Joan Knudson and Ira Bitz
AMACOM Books
ISBN: 0814450431 Pub Date: 01/01/91

Search this book:
Search Tips

Advanced Search


Previous Table of Contents Next



Facilitating the Project Planning Process
Title

It is probably obvious by now that one of your key roles as project manager is to facilitate the project
planning process. You must produce a schedule plan, organize functional representatives into a workable and
effective project team (we use the term organize to indicate that a project team is created not by magic but by
-----------
the use of consciously employed consideration and concentration), and prepare the project team for
postplanning roles and responsibilities.
“To facilitate” means to make something easier. In the case of the planning process, it means to ease the use
of project management tools in the building of a project team. Facilitating is leading others through a process,
sometimes referred to as indirect training, that culminates in the development of concrete deliverables. The
objective is to assist project team members in working through the planning process in order to develop the
schedule, resource plan, and budget.
The facilitation process requires you to elicit or draw information from the team. To accomplish this, you
must put team members at ease. The team members should know who is on the team and why, what will be
expected of them in meetings, and that you will guide them through the process. This facilitation is best
accomplished through private meetings with each team member in advance of the first team meeting.
Project communication meetings are integral to the planning model. The number and length of these meetings
will vary according to the size and complexity of the project, as well as the level of knowledge that team
members bring to the project. For some projects, the sequence of communication meetings necessary to
produce the project plan may be quite short”perhaps even a few hours. For others, significant amounts of
time between meetings may be required for team members to develop additional data and levels of work
detail. In other words, adapt the following agenda of team communication meetings to your own situation.

Meeting 1: Orient and Prepare the Project Team
You need to reach agreement on the objectives of the planning process with the team and demonstrate your
capacity and willingness to help. Therefore, the objective of the first project communication meeting is to
define the roles of team members, describe the project goals and the function of the communication meetings,
and discuss how you will achieve these goals. It is important that you involve the team members in
determining the agenda for future meetings so that they will attend these meetings and support the planning
process.

Meeting 2: Develop Objectives, Scope, and Work Breakdown Structure
Prior to this second meeting, provide team members with a clear statement of goals for the meeting,
appropriate reading materials, and assignments. The reading materials should include the business case that
initially justified the project (if one had been created), a statement of work defining the goals and objectives
of the project, and the proposed first level of the WBS. Team members should be requested to review the
business case and project goals and objectives, to document their role in meeting the objectives, and to isolate
the first level of work effort in which they see themselves involved and develop a second level of their work
breakdown.
The meeting itself addresses the project objectives and goals. They should be discussed openly by the team,
with comments and questions thoroughly addressed. The scope of the project is the next item. At this point,

<< . .

. 5
( : 16)



. . >>