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6.3 Activity Resource Estimating inputs, tools & techniques, and outputs
- .1 Inputs
- .1 Enterprise environmental factors: Such as scheduling tools and software.
- .2 Organizational process assets: Such as historical information from prior projects, to establish initial activity sequences and assign and manage resources.
- .3 Activity list: Output from prior stages of project planning, helps to estimate the resources needed.
- .4 Activity attributes: Output from prior stages of project planning, helps to estimate the resources needed.
- .5 Resource availability: Resource needs have to be matched with resource availability.
- .6 Project management plan: Uses as an input to activity resource estimating. Specifically, the schedule management plan is used, primarily in determining how to manage changes in a project's schedule.
- **.2 Tools and Techniques
- .1 Expert judgment: Estimation based on the experience of one or more experts on the particular activity or project. In most cases, the "doers" can give very precise estimates about the resources needed. Combination of expert judgment and hard data is preferable.
- .2 Published estimating data: Hard data from specific activities carried out on previous projects that may be used to more accurately estimate resource needs. Available from market research companies, a form of benchmarking. These companies gather and analyze research needs for a variety of projects in a variety of industries.
- .3 Alternatives analysis: An estimating technique in which trade-offs between the time needed, the resources invested, and the desired quality of the final deliverable are examined. Ex.: varying amount, source of labor.
- .4 Bottom-up estimating: An estimating technique in which complex activities are further decomposed to a point where more accurate estimates can be made; applied when the resource needs of an activity cannot be easily estimated. This is often the case if the work package itself is fairly complex. These lower-level estimates can then be combined into an estimate for the activity itself.
- .5 Project management software: Such as Microsoft Project can greatly help in estimating resource needs and matching those needs with resource availability and costs. Resource Sheet view lets you specify a name for each resource, as well as attributes such as type, standard and overtime rate, cost/use, and the like. Other views such as Resource Usage display the resource allocation in an easy-to-use way. **Resource calendar can be used to assign resources or resource groups to specific activities. These calendars help the project manager by displaying whether a resource is available or might be tied up by a different activity. Further, costs can be assigned to the different resources, which helps in conducting alternative analyses.
- .6 Benchmarking against competitors: Common practice. For example, competing automakers might benchmark their time from conception to market.
- .7 Techniques utilizing project team members: Such as brainstorming sessions or mind mapping to gather valuable information about expected project duration. In brainstorming sessions, participants are charged with generating ideas without fear of group censure. Group effects, such as social disapproval, effects of authority hierarchy, and domination by vocal people may be inhibiting factors. In mind mapping, visual representation of tasks and problems may help the project team come up with more accurate project representations and associated durations. Visual representation of task and problems – branches radiating out from a core to structure thoughts and ideas. Use a whiteboard, post-its, special software. Helpful to have a facilitator.
- (Multiple techniques should be applied and avoid quick estimates)
- .3 Outputs
- .1 Activity resource requirements: A very detailed listing of the resource requirements for the individual activities and should include any assumptions made during the estimation process; if a certain assumption does not hold, the project immediately knows that the schedule has to be adjusted accordingly.
- .2 Activity attributes (update): Activity definition process entails providing preliminary activity attributes, such as predecessor, successors, and constraints; the resources needed to accomplish the activities estimated in the present stage also become part of a more refined set of activity attributes that can now be used to create more accurate schedules; further, in case the process of estimating resources yields additional changes to the activities (e.g., the realization that additional resources may be necessary to accomplish an activity), such changes will be incorporated into updated activity attributes; all changes must be approved following the project's change control guidelines.
- .3 Resource breakdown structure (RBS): A hierarchical, graphical representation of all needed resources ordered by type or category; to represent the resources in an easy-to-use format; helps to visualize the different types of resources needed for a project; useful in roll-up reporting, for instance, where the project manager wants to show all of the resources (both human and capital) necessary for accomplishing various components of a project.
- .4 Resource calendar (update): A specific type of project calendar that is used to track the hours when certain resources are available; for human resources, a resource calendar specifies working and nonworking days, such as weekends or holidays; use resource calendars to quickly identify whether specific resources are idle (and available) or occupied by another task; every work resource should have its own calendar.
- .5 Requested change
The primary output of the activity resource estimating process is a detailed listing of the resource requirements (both types and quantities needed) for the individual activities; often, the resource needs for different activities are combined to represent the resources needs for each WBS work package
6.4 Activity Duration Estimating inputs, tools & techniques, and outputs
- .1 Inputs
- .1 Enterprise environmental factors (such as project management software, estimating databases): Assist in the duration estimation.
- .2 Organizational process assets (such as historical information): Assist in the duration estimation.
- .3 Project scope statement: Scope of the project is captured in the project scope statement and is used as an input to keep the focus on the project's activities.
- .4 Activity list: Primary input produced as an output from the last phase during the process of resource estimation.
- .5 Activity attributes (schedule-related info. such as predecessors, successors, constraints, dates assumptions, leads, lags, etc.): Primary input produced as an output from the last phase during the process of resource estimation.
- .6 Activity resource requirements: Primary input produced as an output from the last phase during the process of resource estimation.
- .7 Resource calendars: Produced during the activity resource estimation, specifies the times when the resources are available for a certain task.
- .8 Project management plan -- (a) Risk register (a formal listing of identified risks): Captures the different activities' risks, taking into consideration those that have a high probability of impacting the project schedule; (b) Activity cost estimates (both part of the project management plan): Help identify to what degree resource allocations impact the costs for completing the activities.
- **.2 Tools and Techniques
- The process of estimating the duration of the project activities using both project scope and resource information. The duration estimates will then be combined with the activity sequencing to determine the duration of the entire project, as well as to identify the critical path. Reassessments related to calculating activity duration can also occur at this point. For instance, if it appears that an activity's duration is going to be too long, more resources should be assigned.
- .1 Expert judgment: Previously mentioned under the activity definition process, can be used as a means to better estimate activities' durations and their need for specific resources. Expert judgment can rely on the subjective option of project participants (so be careful).
- .2 Analogous estimating: The estimation of activities' durations based upon the duration of similar activities. For information systems development projects, it can be used for standard tasks such as building interfaces. Historical data, published data (from past projects done in the company), or expert judgment can be used because these are often fairly standardized.
- .3 Parametric estimating: The estimation of activities' durations using some type of mathematical process, i.e. Line Of Code estimate of program/(LOC/day); quantitatively based.
- .4 Three-point estimates: The estimation of activities' durations by averaging the optimistic, pessimistic, and most likely estimates (PERT analysis is an example); quantitatively based. If a high risk is associated with the activity, the estimate will lean toward the pessimistic end.
- .5 Reserve analysis: Technique used to establish contingency reserves during a project to guard against potential risk; any buffer in the project schedule should be documented and accounted for. Basically, time set aside as a reserve in case activity durations don't match the plan.
- .3 Outputs
- .1 Activity duration estimates
- .2 Activity attributes (updates)
- – Gantt chart - bar chart that employs time lines and other types of symbols to illustrate the project schedule; doesn't capture all aspects of a network diagram such as the precedence relationships, but it does convey information about the duration of the various activities, and by capturing the various anticipated start and stop dates of those activities, it also illustrates the duration of the overall project
- –Fixed point – very precise estimate of the time, e.g. July 15th
- –Range estimates – especially during the early stages, very difficult to give precise estimates; the estimates should be more precise only to the degree possible, e.g. 6 months +/- 2 weeks
- –Three-Point - Optimistic, Pessimistic, Most likely
6.6 Schedule Control inputs, tools & techniques, and outputs
- The process of putting procedures and rules in place for controlling changes to the project schedules
- .1 Inputs
- .1 Schedule management plan: Plan developed during the schedule development process.
- .2 Schedule baseline: Preliminary project schedule developed in the schedule development process.
- .3 Performance reports: To track the project at the activity level, such as tracking which activities have or have not been finished on time.
- .4 Approved change requests: Simply requests for changes in the project schedule.
- .2 Tools and Techniques
- .1 Progress reporting: Continuous updates about the current status of the project.
- .2 Schedule change control system: Determines the process for evaluating and implementing potential schedule changes, including changing approval authorization hierarchies; a control system developed to outline the process for the evaluation and implementation of schedule changes.
- .3 Performance measurement: Aprocess used to determine the magnitude and criticality of schedule variations; i.e., variations in a minor activity not on the critical path are typically much less disruptive than variance in the scheduled completion of a critical activity.
- .4 Project management software: To track project schedules and the effects, or forecast effects, of variations in activity completion dates.
- .5 Variance analysis: To evaluate potential and actual variance on the project schedule; an analysis used to evaluate the effects of variance on the schedule of project activities.
- .6 Schedule comparison bar charts: Help to visualize any deviations of the current status from the baseline to see whether corrective actions need to be taken.
- .3 Outputs
- .1 Schedule model data (updates): Documentation and notification procedures associated with schedule changes.
- .2 Schedule baseline (updates)
- .3 Performance measurements
- .4 Requested changes
- .5 Recommended corrective actions: Procedure for addressing schedule performance problems.
- .6 Organizational process assets (updates): Lessons learned include documentation of the causes of variance from the project schedule; the documentation becomes part of the organizational process assets.
- .7 Activity list (updates)
- .8 Activity attributes (updates)
- .9 Project management plan (updates)
**Human resource management as an advantage to offshoring
- One other reason companies might choose to offshore is to "follow the sun" in an attempt to maintain a 24-hour software development cycle.
- Motorola revealed several techniques that is used to manage human resources across the globe during a critical project. Anticipating potential problems with globally distributed teams, the Motorola team identified 10 problems likely to emerge and developed 12 techniques to alleviate them.
- As can be seen from the figure, many of these problems are resource management issues, including how to manage capital resources (e.g., choosing and managing the types of technology used by the project team to communicate, coordinate, and execute project activities across time and space) as well as human resources (developing a sense of "teamness" and managing cultural differences). Motorola's example shows that global resources can be used to the project's advantage if properly managed.
- Global development issues and solution strategies
- A source of supply or support, a description that holds true in the case of project management resources, such as money, people/personnel/human, materials, technology/equipment, and space
- For information systems projects, a more specific listing of resources might include systems developers, project managers, systems analysts, stakeholders, development environments, facilities, and information architectures for both the development team and the final implementation of the system
All project stakeholders, including customers, project team members, support staff, project suppliers, and end users
- Project stakeholders:
- –Project team members
- –Support staff
- *Systems analyst - may be to elicit requirements from the customer, then determine the design of the system
- *System developers - depend less on business knowledge and more on in-depth technical knowledge of the hardware and software platforms necessary to optimize system performance
- –Project suppliers and vendors
- –End users
- Selected by:
- –Skill set
- The tools and infrastructure (such as hardware, software, and computing environment) used to produce other goods and services
- In information systems development projects, both the development software and the technological platform on which the software resides are capital resources
- Available within or outside the company through external third parties
Project Management Office (PMO)
- Also called the IT war room
- A dedicated part of the organization - frequently consisting of support personnel and a physical facility - whose purpose is to focus on various aspects of project management, including help with methodologies for planning and controlling project activities
- Group dedicated to providing support and expertise on project management functions and activities
- An organizational unit created to centralize and coordinate the projects within an organization
- Function varies among organizations:
- –Collect and organize project data
- –Develop and maintain templates and standards
- –Develop or coordinate training
- –Develop and provide a career path for PMs
- –Provide PM consulting services
- –Provide a structure to house PM while in or between projects
- The measure of the alternative opportunities forgone in the choice of one good or activity over others
- Organizations decide in the selection phase of project initiation how to use limited capital resources
**Managing project resources
- Project resource availability and selection will impact other project (key knowledge) areas:
- The Standish Group’s CHAOS (Extreme Chaos) studies show improvements in IT projects in the past decade
- Several key statistics regarding the success and failure of projects improved from 1994 to 2000. From a resource allocation standpoint, the most impressive statistics are the percentages of time overruns and cost overruns from 1994 to 2000. Time overruns fell from 222% in 1994 to 63% in 2000, and cost overruns fell from 189% to 45%.
- "The reasons for the increase in successful projects vary. First, the average cost of a project has been more than cut in half. Better tools have been created to monitor and control progress and better skilled project managers with better management processes are being used. The fact that there are processes is significant in itself.”
- Glass is critical of their research:
- Other research does not support their conclusions
- Standish won’t discuss where their data comes from and the validity of their findings
- Standish report says they solicited “failure stories”
What defines a successful project?
- 1. On time
- 2. Within budget
- 3. Meets stakeholders expectations
and management impacts all three