Rank #1: SensiblePM101 – 004 | Project Charters
In this episode The Sensible Project Manager discusses Project Charters and their importance in starting a project.
Listen to the Podcast:
Project Charters (WBS):
- What is the Project Charter?
- What is the value of the Project Charter?
Read the TranscriptWelcome to SensiblePM 101 where you can find practical tips for dynamic project management. My name is Mark Phillipy and I am the Sensible Project Manager. In today’s episode I will talk about project charters and their importance in starting a project right.
The first question really is what is a project charter? Well a project charter in simple terms is the document which initiates the project. It’s the thing that identifies the vision and/or the objectives of the project. Now it is usually developed by the project sponsor. Sometimes he might have somebody else develop the actual document. It could actually be the project manager himself, or it could be somebody else on the team. But essentially it is a document which comes from or is authorized by the project sponsor. Some of the things that it will include in it, are really again the objective or the vision of the project, what the business case is. It will identify the stakeholders of the project. It should identify what the high level scope of the project is. It will lay out the timeframe in which the project should be delivered in. It also will identify the high level budget. In other word how much are you going to be able to spend on this project? Another thing that it identifies is the authority that is given to the project manager. Each organization uses project managers differently, but the project charter actually should identify what that authority is, that the project manager will have for the project.
Now what is it that you should with a project charter? Think of it as your project bible. That is where you are going to go back and refer to often in your project to give you the guidance you need. It’s what allows you to help keep your project in scope and in the budget and in the timeframe. Not that the project charter is going to be detailed enough to provide all of the details that you need to be able to control your project. This is definitely different from the project management plan, but the charter will give you that guideline or those boundaries. Understanding those boundaries that the project is going to be guided under is really important to you as the project manager. You can then refer back often to keep the project in line. The other thing that you will use that project charter for is to be able to help understand how to measure your success. In other words that project charter will give you the boundaries or guidance that will allow you to identify that if I deliver this within this charter, out the other end of the project that will allow me to be successful. So that measurement of success is an important part. So that’s what a project charter is about. It’s an important thing to do. I would never start a project without that project charter, because you are never going to have enough clarity to what you are doing in the project, and I would definitely keep that around and control the project based on that charter. And again, that’s the way to start the project. I hope that helps you to understand what a project charter is.
Alright, thank you for listening to the SensiblePM 101. I hope this practical tip helps you in your project management journey. Now remember, return often to www.sensiblepm.com. I have these kinds of tips and a lot more. Leave a comment or subscribe to the podcast either on iTunes or on the website and feel free to leave your thoughts about what you would like to hear more of or a specific topic even. Please if you want to email me at email@example.com. You can find me on twitter @sensiblepm. Or you can find me on LinkedIn or Google+. My name is Mark Phillipy. And remember, the sensible project manager always looks for the practical way to lead a project to success.
Jul 21 2012
Rank #2: SensiblePM101 – 003 | Work Breakdown Structure
In this episode The Sensible Project Manager talks about Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and how to create one and use it to plan a project.
Listen to the Podcast:
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS):
- What is Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)?
- How to create a WBS?
- Rules to follow when creating a WBS.
Read the TranscriptWelcome to SensiblePM 101 where you can find practical tips for dynamic project management. My name is Mark Phillipy and I am the Sensible Project Manager. In today’s episode I will talk about Work Breakdown Structure or WBS and how you can create one and use it to plan a project. Alright so first let’s start with talking about what a WBS is.
The project management body of knowledge or PMBOK defines the Work Breakdown Structure as a deliverable oriented hierarchal decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team. Now that is a mouth full. I want to make it a little bit easier than that. Although that definition is correct, I just want to make it a little simpler. I like to think of the WBS as an organized breakdown of the activities that are required to deliver the scope of the project. Now it’s important to understand that it is only the activities to deliver the scope, no more or no less. The WBS is often created in outline form. Some people might use mind mapping to create the WBS. It doesn’t matter what format you use to create your WBS or the tools you use. I’m more interested in understanding what a WBS is.
Now let’s talk about how to create a WBS. I believe that the first step really is to understand the scope. Next once you understand that scope, you then identify the deliverables of the scope. You then decompose those deliverables at increasingly smaller units. You would break them into sub deliverables, milestones, and eventually into activities or tasks.
I think the easiest way to understand how you may create a WBS is a simple example. I am going to take the example of building a house. If I was to create a WBS for building a house I would break it into probably three different deliverables. The first deliverable might be structure. The next deliverable might be external. And finally, the third deliverable might be internal. Meaning there’s a structural component of a house, an external portion of the house and an internal portion of the house. Now I would then take each one of those and break them down into smaller, I can break them down or decompose them into a smaller sub deliverables. For instance structure might be broken down into foundation and wood framing. The external deliverable might be broken down into siding and roof. The internal deliverable might be broken down into electrical, plumbing, flooring, and walls. So I then take each one of those and I might even break them down in to either further sub deliverables, or if I am at a level which I can define the activities and milestones, I would break it down to that next level. For instance, if I was to decompose walls into smaller activities or tasks, I might say that I would first install sheet rock, I would then secondly mud, sand, finish the sheet rock. And then finally I would paint the walls. So that’s essentially how you would break down or create your WBS for building a house.
Now when you create your WBS, there are three rules I like to keep in mind. The first one is the WBS should contain 100% of the work. In other words it should not include additional work that is required to meet the scope. And it shouldn’t be less than what is necessary to meet the scope. The next rule is what they call the 80 hour rule. It should be broken down such that activities are no more than 80 hours. The third rule is you should decompose it to a practical or realistic level. In other words you don’t want to break it down a level where it is unrealistic to track and to manage. You want to be able to break it down somewhere under the 80 hours and never down to a detail level in which you are not willing to track it. For instance I usually don’t break a task down to any lower than 8 hours. But sometimes that’s necessary.
OK I hope that this discussion helps you to understand WBS or Work Breakdown Structure. And I hope you can apply that to your activities or projects as you start your planning process. Alright I want to thank you for listing to this SensiblePM101 podcast. I hope this practical tip helps you in your project management journey. Please visit me often at sensiblepm.com and leave a comment. Or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and feel free to leave a comment there as well. I would love to be able to hear feedback from you so that I can make these podcasts better. And I can provide the type of content that you are looking for. I would love to have you leave me some comments as to what you might want to hear. You can also firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find me on Twitter @sensiblepm. Or you can find me at LinkedIn. My name is Mark Phillipy. And remember, The Sensible Project Manager always looks for the practical way to lead a project to success.
Jul 11 2012
Rank #3: SensiblePM101 – 002 | Dependencies Predecessors Successors
In this episode The Sensible Project Manager talks about dependencies, predecessors, and successors and how you would use these concepts as you build a project schedule.
Listen to the Podcast:
Relationships between Tasks:
- What are the dependencies between tasks?
- What is a predecessor?
- What is a successor?
Read the TranscriptHello welcome to the SensiblePM 101. This is Mark Phillipy and I am the Sensible Project Manager. Today for SensiblePM 101, I wanted to talk a little about task dependencies, and specifically about predecessors and successors and their relationships between the tasks. Now this is a really important concept to understand when you are building your schedule and as you are putting together your WBS.
Now, what is a predecessor and a successor. A predecessor is a task whose start and finish date determines the start and finish date of the successor, or the follow on task. The successor is a task whose start or finish date is driven by its predecessor, or the previous task. So there’s a relationship between the predecessor and the successor. Quite simply if you think of it from a simple point of view, in general, and this is not always true, but in general, a predecessor comes first, the successor comes second. And now the reason why I say that it isn’t always true that its one right after the other is because there is also a relationship between the predecessor and the successor. Theres actually two things that we take in to consideration when we talk about the task and the relationships between those tasks or those dependencies. One of them is the type of relationship between two tasks, and secondly the lag between two tasks.
Now lets talk about type first. There are four different type. Those four types are first of all, what is refered to as a finish start, or in Microsoft Project a FS. Now a finish start, really what happens with that is that the successor task cannot start until the predecessor task finishes, and that is the default in Microsoft Project. What happens in this case the predecessor task will complete, well let’s say for instance the predecessor task is fourty hours. That fourty hours has to be complete before the next task or the successor task can start. That is one type, so a finish start. So a start start or an SS in Microsoft Project is where a successor cannot start until the predecessor starts. In other words they essentially start at the same time. So, this is defining a relationship where the successor and the predecessor start at the same time. The next type is a finish finish and it is very similar to a start start in that a finish finish, or a FF in Microsoft Project, is the successor cannot finish until the precessessor task finishes. So in other words, both of them finish at the same time. And the final type is a start finish. This is I think is kind of rarely used, but it is there. So in this case a start finish or SF in Microsoft Project, is where the successor task cannot finish until the predecessor task starts. So again I think this is a fairly rare case, but there are times when you might not want to finish a successor until the predecessor starts. I generally do not use that just because it doesn’t make as much sense to me as using a finish start in a finish start relationship. So those are the different types.
The other thing that we consider when we are talking about the relationship of tasks, is the lag that you have between two tasks. Now the lag is really that. It is the time between the successor and the predecessor. Take into consideration those four different types we talked about, that lag is relative to those relationships. Now, for instance, on a finish start if a predecessor finishes and you want to start the successor five days after that then you would have a lag of five days for your lag. So if the predecessor is again a fourty hour task, so that’s going to be a one week task, five days later you would start the successor. Now with the other types it might be the case where you are going to start, if you have a start start relationship, then you might start the successor five days after the precessesor starts. You can also have a negative lag, so that for instance if I have five day lag that I am going to have between the predecessor and the successor, I could say that I want to start that successor five days before the end of the processor finish. So that’s how the lag works and that’s the types of relationships you start to build on a project. Understanding this is very critical as you start to build your project schedule and those tasks on your WBS. Its critical because if you could get this relationship and understand what those relationships are between the tasks and you can get those clearly defined, as execution occurs on the project and you have changes in the durations or other things that might effect the schedule, that begins to show wheither your schedule is coming in on time, or if you are late and how you might need to make adjustments to be successful.
OK, well I hope that conversations about task dependencies, predecessors, and successors and relations, help you as you begin to understand those relationships in a project schedule. Now if you want to have more of these practical project management tips, come visit us at www.sensiblepm.com. I would love to have you visit there often and I will continue to leave these practical tips on sensiblepm.com under sensiblepm 101. You also can come to iTunes and subscribe to the podcast. If you wish to contact me, you may send me an email to email@example.com. You can find me on Twitter @sensiblepm. You also can find me on LinkedIn. My last name is spelt Phillipy. Now remember, The Sensible Project Manager always looks for the practical way to manage a project to success.
Jul 03 2012
Rank #4: SensiblePM101 – 001 | Work vs. Duration
In this episode the Sensible Project Manager introduces the SensiblePM 101 Podcast and describes the difference between work and duration.
Listen to the Podcast:
Work vs. Duration
- What is Work?
- What is Duration?
- Applying Work & Duration.
Read the TranscriptHello welcome to SensiblePM 101. This is Mark Phillipy and I am the Sensible Project Manager. Before we begin with the tip of the day, I wanted to let you know what this podcast is about. I am looking forward to being able to help new project managers and those that are studying to become project managers or maybe even those who are on a project and want to understand a little more about project management and the lingo what projects are all about. And so, I decided to create this podcast in which I will provide to you tips and hints about project management, just basic concepts. Today we will talk a little about duration and work. That’s one example of how I want to be able to provide that kind of guidance. So you can return often to this podcast, I intent to produce this at least once a week. And you will be able to find these tips, these practical tips about project management. Alright with that introduction, let’s talk about work and duration.
OK, I wanted to take a few minutes to talk a little about work and duration and how that is applied when you are identifying what the effort is for a task. First of all work is the amount of time that it takes for a task to get completed. Meaning if I were to start at the beginning of the task and I had no interrupted time, what would be the effort to complete that task? The duration is how long it will take to complete that task, not making the assumption that I will not be interrupted during the time. For instance, if I have a task that I was to work from the start to the end that would require eight hours of effort, that is the work that is required to complete the task, however, I might only be able to only work two hours a day on that task. If that’s the case, those eight hours is now going to take four days to complete. That is the duration. Now when I am working with an engineer to identify what the effort is, I put it exactly in those terms so that they can understand what I am looking for. And what I am always driving for in understanding the effort is the work that is required for the task. I then allow a tool like Microsoft Project to calculate the duration for me. Alright, I hope that little discussion helps you as you understand work, duration, and how you apply that for driving out what the estimate is for a task.
Thank you for listening to the SensiblePM 101 podcast. I hope that helps you. Please return often, or subscribe to this podcast to hear these practical weekly tips. If want to hear a little bit more from The Sensible Project Manager, come listen to The Sensible Project Manager Podcast to hear more advanced topics. That podcast is about twenty to thirty minutes long. You can find that on iTunes as well as on www.sensiblepm.com. I would love to have you email me as well at firstname.lastname@example.org. When you email me, send me some information about what kind of topics you might want to hear, here on SensiblePM 101, and I will address those. You can also follow me on Twitter @SensiblePM. You can also find me on LinkedIn. My name is Mark Phillipy. Now remember the Sensible Project Manager always looks for the practical way to lead a project to success.
Jun 27 2012