PM essentials

The quickest way to master project management

Characteretics of a project


Have start and end dates
Are performed by people
Delivers unique products or service as an output
Are constrained by the limited resources of time, cost and scope

The PDCA and PDSA  cycles


Shewhart coined the PDCA cycle. Whatever we do must be planned first. Then do things as per the plan. Periodically check to see whether everything is going as per the plan. If there is a variance, then take action. Later Deming modified the PDCA cycle to PDSA. Plan, do, study and act. Here the emohasis is just to do enough planning and get into action quickly. One may fail, but fail fast and learn from it. With that learning replan.

Understanding the scope of work

Work breakdown structure

The best tool for this is the work break down structure. Break the work at hand into smaller pieces (work packages).

Work breakdown structure for pmp certification


Further decompose the work packages to activities and estimate their effort.

Identify trainer 1 day = 8 hrs
Complete training leading to 35 contact hours  certification 5 days = 40 hrs
Become a PMI member 1 day = 8 hrs
Apply for the exam 1 day = 8 hrs
Application processing  15 days by pmi
Study pmbok 6 days = 48 hrs
Exam practice 4 days = 32 hrs
Schedule exam = 1 day = 8 hrs
Write exam = 1 day = 8 hrs

Total effort from the participants side, excluding the application processing time by PMI = 160 hrs = 20 person days of effort, assuming that 1 fay = 8 hours.

So pmp certification project is going to take a total of 20 person days effort from the participants side. The next question is how fast one can so it. For this we have to sequence these activities based on their logical dependencies.

Many get confused between effort and duration. Let us consider a task which can be completed in 10 days time, if one resource is allicated to perform it. In this case the effort is 10 person days or man days. If we allicate two resources, Instead of one, then we may be able to compete it in six days time. In the second case, the duration is 6 calendar days, and the effort is 6×2 = 12 person days.

The process of compressing the duration of an activity by deploying more resources into it is known as crashing.

Normal cost = 10 person days
Normal time = 10 working days
Crash cost = 12 person days
Crash time = 6 working days

The process of trying to do things in parellel, which were originally scheduled sequentially is known as fasttracking.

To achieve the targetted completion date, we may do both crashing and fasttracking on the schedule.

Sequence the activities

The next step is to sequence the activities based on their dependencies. Two types of network diagrams are used for this;
Activity on arrow diagrams (AOA) or arrow diagramming method (ADM)
Activity on node diagrams (AON) or precedence diagramming method (PDM)

To be continued..

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