WBS and Project Budgets

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 … Continue reading

Learning Organization and Corporate Mastery

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.


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 … Continue reading

Measurement effects and analysis on personnel and organizations

by: Shawn P. Quigley

Whereas we have discussed some of the possible flaws in measurements we can all still agree that they are needed to provide both improvement in processes and the organization. However, other aspects of obtaining data for the production of quantifiable information: trend analysis and process evaluation, is the human factor both workers and management. As in so many of our conversations we look at the affect it has on the people who are essentially being evaluated by the information gathered for these measures. An issue we will discuss later in this post, but first let us look at the management aspect of this equation.

As a quality analysis person data may seem to be clear most of the time, but as a management person how do you gauge the data which is being received? Do you understand its’ meaning? Do you look at the outliers to forecast or do you think they are just noise to … Continue reading

Analysis of Measurements

by: Shawn P. Quigley & Jon M Quigley

Measurements and Bias

Solely by the process of observing something we can alter the thing which is being observed. This is a known as the observer-expectancy effect.  This effect is born out of conscience and subconscious biases of the observer.  In the case of observing people, we have noted in earlier blog posts that the act of observation, taking an interest, may alter the outcome or performance as well (consider The Hawthorne study).  To make an effective measurement we must work to account for these impacts.  We also must know the goal we have set for collecting the information, that is the measurement is context based.  Having a specific goal, informs the type of data and methods of data collection.  Both of these are rife with opportunity for bias to creep into the measurements,  and delude our team.  This bias can creep in not only, what we identify … Continue reading

Verification and Validation

Verification and Validation

The definition for verification and validation can be found at[1]:


We must express some disagreement with the activities associated with the individual areas. For example, testing is not limited to Validation. Testing is also a function of verification as we will use these techniques to understand if the instantiation of the product meets the specifications.  Testing will be part of the quality assurance activities for the product – are we building what we said we would – through iterations of the product.  Big bang is dead – meaning build everything at the beginning no longer happens. That method only works in products of the smallest scope.  Rather, we will increment the feature content, verify the product build matches requirements delivered, log bugs and get ready for the next round. The next round fixes bugs, adds more of the requirements to the product content verify and so forth.

Likewise for Validation, there are things … Continue reading

Agile Practices Applied to Line Management – Monitor and Control

Having the plan is only partially helpful.  The list of test cases and the expected rate of accomplishment allows us to refine our estimates as we progress through the testing.  We will be in a position to provide the project manager and stakeholders with a better “ETA” (Estimated Time of Arrival) just like the GPS informs us as we progress toward our final destination.

We know must execute to see if the planned rate of accomplishment and expected conclusion date are viable.  We will the monitor and track the progress of the team.  Here is where we take another play from the agile playbook.  Each morning we have a short 15 minute meeting with the verification team members.  Filling a role comparable to a scrum master, we ask:

What did you do yesterday? What do you have planned for today? What obstacles are you encountering?

Notes are taken especially when it comes to obstacles. We can ill afford to have … Continue reading

The Un-repeatable Fault

Testing Complex and Embedded Systems What set of conditions could cause this event to occur?

When we have elicited all we can from the customer about fault information, it is time to proceed further in our analysis. This next step requires investigation of the design to understand how the symptom of failure described could happen by breaking down the hardware and software and the interactions within them to understand the improper behavior of the features to the customer. If the investigator is in the automotive, pharmacy, or food industries, they can resort to an immediate perusal of the Design Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (DFMEA) and the Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (PFMEA). If our investigator is lucky, they may find pointers to the cause of the issue in these documents.

To be successful, we need to perform a rigorous and systematic critique of the design—with enough follow up to ensure that any correctable issues have been resolved. Usually, … Continue reading

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