Archive for March, 2017

WBS and Project Budgets

Posted on: March 23rd, 2017 by admin No Comments

Recently, I was in a conversation with a project manager whose organization had just made a radical alteration to their manner of handling work breakdown structure. There is a connection between the work breakdown structure and the financial tracking for the project. Ideally, there is an immediate connection between the WBS and the expenditures for the individual WBS element.

We have written about the WBS and demonstrated the use of tools such as WBS Planner in past blog posts. We demonstrated how the WBS is the breakdown of the activities for a portion and ultimately for the entire project – at least by the phase in the life cycle.

However, that is not end of the usefulness of the WBS.  Besides being able to assign specific individuals for specific activities as the WBS identifies, this breakdown facilitates estimating activities as well.  Having the person responsible for the work to be involved in the estimating process helps with commitment to those estimates, after all, it is their estimate.  As such, the WBS serves as a road map and baseline for the work from which the actual work and future changes will be assessed and perhaps integrated.

Still, we have not concluded the list of benefits from the WBS!  One of the biggest benefits comes during the time of the monitor and control process group of the project.  Each WBS item represents a work item or collection of work items that have been estimated (an educated guess).  The juxtaposition of this estimate with the specific WBS item makes tracking the actual performance to achieve that specific WBS element, against what was projected possible.  This in turn, enables discussions around what is the root cause and what would we need to do to improve the performance or how much it will take to actually meet the WBS element objective.   These predictions are not possible if we do not connect budget to specific WBS elements. Now let us consider the manner in which this organization wishes to connect the WBS with the budget for the project.  Affixing the budget for the project at the highest levels of the WBS structure, will then require manual pouring over the expenses to determine what specific area of the project is having difficulty staying within the cost constraints of project.

It may seem like more work to connect the WBS lower level breakdown components to the budget, but that is not necessarily true.  Determining the true reason for budget failure or cost over-runs then becomes a manual process to ascertain what part or parts of the project is creating the over-run.  Additionally, without the discrete elements in the WBS, we do not material that can be easily developed into a time phased budget for the project.


Learning Organization and Corporate Mastery

Posted on: March 14th, 2017 by admin No Comments

We have been exploring the connection between the learning organization, organization development and project management, in fact, if you visit the Learning Organization training area you will find the class that ties these concepts together with project management.


LO OD PM Training

In this exploration we have reviewed some of our favorite works by Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline. In our rumination we have considered that personal mastery is helpful for the individuals growing their ability to perform for the company. However, personal mastery from one person is not the best solution for the organization, just as one great player on your football team will not make a great team good enough to make it to the super bowl. To this end we have though of a term to describe how this mastery could apply to more than just one: apply to the Group, Department, Project, and even the Corporation. To that end we have divided Mastery into two additional groups: Group and/or Project Mastery and Corporate Mastery. Before we can discuss either we should review what Mr. Senge defined as Personal Mastery. He defined Personal Mastery as:

“Learning to expand our personal capacity to create the results we most desire, and creating an organizational environment which encourages all its members to develop themselves toward the goals and purpose they choose.” (Senge, Kleiner, Roberts, Ross, & Smith, 1994)

As we can see from the definition of Personal Mastery it is centered the individual and their goals and purpose they choose, whereas with Group/Project Mastery and Corporate Mastery the focus would shift to the whole vice a part of the whole. This changes the tone or meaning significantly as what is desired and/or needed by one would may or may not apply to the group’s goal and/or purpose. Having laid the foundation for our objective we can now define “Group/Project Mastery” and “Corporate Mastery”.

Group/Project Mastery: Using the goals and/or purpose of the Group/Project to encourage learning and creative environment in which all its members support and develop the Group/Project as a whole. The focus of this is on the team vice the individual and the overall goal or purpose vice the goal and purpose chosen by any one part of the group or project. This can be achieved by sharing their personal goals and determining how they align with the group/project’s goals.

Corporate Mastery: Using the goal and/or purpose of the corporation; commonly referred to as the mission statement or charter, to encourage a learning and creative environment that is aligned with the goals and purpose of the group/project. The focus of this is the corporation as a whole, but is using the goals and purpose of the groups and/or projects to meet those objectives.

As you can see this step approach builds in both directions and thus supports a learning environment for the top down and bottom up. In using this model it also fosters a positively motivated environment due to the supporting structure.

Every project process group (ala PMI) is rife for growth of the individual, team and organization. These process groups, per PMI are initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and control and closure. Our online class works these process groups into the learning organization and suggest ways in which we can use the project to grow our teams talent and capabilities, providing us a springboard from which we can take on larger or more technical or complicated projects extending our organizations ablity.

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