Project management

Activity list: The primary output of breaking down the WBS work packages.

Adjourning:The last of the five stages of the Tuckman ladder. Once the project is done, either the team moves on to other assignments as a unit or the project team is disbanded, and individual team members go on to other work.

analogous estimating: A somewhat unreliable estimating approach that relies on historical information to predict what current activity durations should be. Analogous estimating is more reliable, however, than team-member recollections. Analogous estimating is also known as top-down estimating and is a form of expert judgment.

analogous estimating:An approach that relies on historical information to predict the cost of the current project. It is also known as top-down estimating and is the least reliable of all the cost-estimating approaches.

bottom-up estimating: The most accurate time-and-cost estimating approach a project manager can use. This estimating approach starts at “the bottom” of the project and considers every activity, its predecessor and successor activities, and the exact amount of resources needed to complete each activity. Can be one of the most time-consuming and most reliable methods to predict project costs.

budget estimate: An estimate that is somewhat broad and is used early in the planning processes as well as in top-down estimates. The range of variance for the estimate can be from –10 percent to +25 percent.

commercial database: A cost-estimating approach that uses a database, typically software-driven, to create the cost estimate for a project.

contingency reserve:A contingency allowance to account for overruns in costs. Contingency reserves are used at the project manager’s discretion and with management’s approval to counteract cost overruns for scheduled activities and risk events.

control threshold: A predetermined range of acceptable variances, such as +/–10 percent off schedule. Should the variance exceed the threshold, project control processes and corrected actions will be enacted.

cost aggregation:Costs are parallel to each WBS work package. The costs of each work package are aggregated to their corresponding control accounts. Each control account then is aggregated to the sum of the project costs.

cost baseline:A time-lapse exposure of when the project monies are to be spent in relation to cumulative values of the work completed in the project. 

cost budgeting: The cost aggregation achieved by assigning specific dollar amounts for each of the scheduled activities or, more likely, for each of the work packages in the WBS. Cost budgeting applies the cost estimates over time.

cost management plan: A plan that dictates how cost variances will be managed.

Crashing:A schedule compression approach that adds more resources to activities on the critical path to complete the project earlier. When crashing a project, costs are added because the associated labor and sometimes resources (such as faster equipment) cause costs to increase.

create the definitive estimate. The range of variance for the estimate can be from –5 percent to +10 percent. 

critical path: The path in the project network diagram that cannot be delayed, or the project completion date will be late. There can be more than one critical path. Activities in the critical path have no float. 

definitive estimate: One of the most accurate estimate types. It’s used late in the planning processes and is associated with bottom-up estimating. You need the WBS to create the definitive estimate. The range of variance for the estimate can be from –5 percent to +10 percent.

Delphi technique: An anonymous method of querying experts about foreseeable risks within a project, phase, or component of a project. The results of the survey are analyzed by a third party, organized, and then circulated to the experts. There can be several rounds of anonymous discussion with the Delphi Technique, without fear of backlash or offending other participants in the process. The goal is to gain consensus on project risks within the project.

discretionary dependencies: These dependencies are the preferred order of activities. Project managers should use these relationships at their discretion and document the logic behind the decision. Discretionary dependencies enable activities to happen in a preferred order because of best practices, conditions unique to the project work, or external events. Also known as preferential or soft logic.

external dependencies:Dependencies outside of the project’s control. Examples include the delivery of equipment from a vendor, the deliverable of another project, or the decision of a committee, a lawsuit, or an expected new law.

fast tracking:A schedule compression method that changes the relationship of activities. With fast tracking, activities that would normally be done in sequence are allowed to be done in parallel or with some overlap. Fast tracking can be accomplished by changing the relation of activities from FS to SS or even FF or by adding lead time to downstream activities. However, fast tracking does add risk to the project.

forcing power :The person with the power makes the decision. 

Forming:The first of the five stages of the Tuckman ladder, in which the project team meets and learns about their roles and responsibilities on the project. Little interaction among the project team happens in this stage as the team is learning about the project and project manager. 

free float:The total time a single activity can be delayed without affecting the early start of its immediately following successor activities.

hard logic: Logic that describes activities that must happen in a particular order. For example, the site must be excavated before the foundation can be built. The foundation must be in place before the framing can begin. Also known as a mandatory dependency.

Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation:theory of the motivating agents and hygiene agents that affect a person’s willingness to excel in his career.

internal dependencies: Internal relationships to the project or the organization. For example, the project team must create the software as part of the project’s deliverable before the software can be tested for quality control.

lag time: Positive time that moves two or more activities further apart.

lead time:Negative time that allows two or more activities to overlap where ordinarily these activities would be sequential. 

majority:A group decision method in which more than 50 percent of the group must be in agreement.

management reserve: A percentage of the project duration to combat Parkinson’s Law. When project activities become late, their lateness is subtracted from the management reserve. 

mandatory dependencies: Relationships that establish the natural order of activities. For example, you can’t begin building your house until your foundation is in place. These relationships are called hard logic. 

McClelland’s Theory of Needs: states that our needs are acquired and developed by our experiences over time. All people are, according to this theory, driven by one of three needs: achievement, affiliation, or power. 

McGregor’s Theory of X and Y: states management views workers in the Y category as competent and self-led and workers in the X category as incompetent and needing to be micromanaged. 

milestone list:A list that details the project milestones and their attributes. It is used for several areas of project planning but also helps determine how quickly the project may be achieving its objectives. 

milestone: Significant points or events in the project’s progress that represent accomplishments in the project. Projects usually create milestones as the result of completing phases within the project.

monte carlo analysis: A project simulation approach named after the world-famous gambling district in Monaco. It predicts how scenarios may work out, given any number of variables. The process doesn’t actually churn out a specific answer, but a range of possible answers. When Monte Carlo analysis is applied to a schedule, it can examine, for example, the optimistic completion date, the pessimistic completion date, and the most likely completion date for each activity in the project and then predict a mean for the project schedule.

murder board:Committees that ask every conceivable negative question about a proposed project. Their goals are to expose the project’s strengths and weaknesses and to kill the project if it’s deemed unworthy of the organization’s commitment. Also known as project steering committees or project selection committees. 

norming: project team members go about getting the project work, begin to rely on one another, and generally complete their project assignments.

parametric estimate: A quantitatively based duration estimate that uses mathematical formulas to predict how long an activity will take based on the quantities of work to be completed. 

parametric estimating; An approach using a parametric model to extrapolate what costs will be needed for a project (for example, cost per hour and cost per unit). It can include variables and points based on conditions. 

Parkinson’s law: A theory that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. It is considered with time estimating, because bloated or padded activity estimates will fill the amount of time allotted to the activity. 

Performing:If a project team can reach the performing stage of team development, they trust one another and work well together, and issues and problems get resolved quickly and effectively.

precedence diagramming method:A network diagram that shows activities in nodes and the relationship between each activity. Predecessors come before the current activity, and successors come after the current activity. 

Product scope:Defines the product or service that will come about as a result of completing the project. It defines the features and functions that characterize the product.

project assumptions: A factor in the project planning process that is held to be true but not proven to be true.

project boundaries: States what is included within the project and what’s excluded from the project. This helps to eliminate assumptions between the project management team and the project customer.

project charter: A document that authorizes the project. It defines the initial requirements of the project stakeholders. The project charter is endorsed by an entity outside of the project boundaries.

project constraints: Anything that limits the project manager’s options. Consider a predetermined budget, deadline, resources, or materials the project manager must use within the project—these are all examples of project constraints.

project float: The total time the project can be delayed without passing the customer expected completion date.

project management plan: The documented approach of how a project will be planned, executed, monitored and controlled, and then closed. This document is a collection of subsidiary management plans and related documents. 

project network diagram: A diagram that visualizes the flow of the project activities and their relationships to other project activities.

project objectives: The measurable goals that determine a project’s acceptability to the project customer and the overall success of the project. Objectives often include the cost, schedule, technical requirements, and quality demands.

project scope management plan: A project management subsidiary plan that controls how the scope will be defined, how the project scope statement will be created, how the WBS will be created, how scope validation will proceed, and how the project scope will be controlled throughout the project.

project statement of work: Defines the products or processes that the project will provide. This document is an input to the project charter.

Prototype:A prototype is a model of the finished deliverable that enables the stakeholders to see how the final project deliverable may operate. In software development, a vertical prototype approach details the interface, the functionality, and sometimes both. A horizontal prototype shows a very broad view of the deliverable, with very little operability at this point. Either prototype can be considered a throwaway prototype, or the model can be developed in more detail by the project team.

RACI chart:A matrix chart that includes the activities of responsible, accountable, consult, and inform.

requirements documentation:Documentation of what the stakeholders expect in the project that defines all of the requirements that must be present for the work to be accepted by the stakeholders.

requirements management plan: A subsidiary plan that defines how changes to the project requirements will be permitted, how requirements will be tracked, and how changes to the requirements will be approved.

reserve analysis:Cost reserves are for unknown unknowns within a project. The management reserve is not part of the project cost baseline, but it is included as part of the project budget.

resource breakdown structure:A hierarchical breakdown of the project resources by category and resource type. For example, you could have a category of equipment, a category of human resources, and a category of materials. Within each category, you could identify the types of equipment your project will use, the types of human resources, and the types of materials.

resource-levelling heuristic: A method to flatten the schedule when resources are overallocated. Resource leveling can be applied using different methods to accomplish different goals. One of the most common methods is to ensure that workers are not overextended on activities.

responsibility assignment matrix (RAM):A chart that shows the correlation between project team members and the work they’ve been assigned to complete.

rolling wave planning:The imminent work is planned in detail, while the work in the future is planned at a high level. This is a form of progressive elaboration.

rough order of magnitude:A rough estimate used during the initiating processes and in top-down estimates. The range of variance for the estimate can be from –25 percent to +75 percent.

schedule management plan:A subsidiary plan in the project management plan. It defines how the project schedule will be created, estimated, controlled, and managed. 

schedule milestones:Specific dates established by the customer that set when phases of the project should be completed. Milestones are often treated as project constraints.

soft logic:The activities don’t necessarily have to happen in a specific order. For example, you could install the light fixtures first, then install the carpet, and then paint the room. The project manager could use soft logic to change the order of the activities if desired.

stakeholder analysis:A scope definition process in which the project management team interviews the stakeholders and categorizes, prioritizes, and documents what the project customer wants and needs. The analysis determines, quantifies, and prioritizes the interests of the stakeholders. Stakeholder analysis demands quantification of stakeholder objectives; goals such as “good,” “satisfactory,” and “speedy” aren’t quantifiable.

Storming:The project team struggles for project positions, leadership, and project direction. The project team can become hostile toward the project leader, challenge ideas, and try to establish and claim positions about the project work. The amount of debate and fury can vary depending on whether the project team is willing to work together, the nature of the project, and the control of the project manager.

three point estimate:An estimating technique for each activity that requires optimistic, most likely, and pessimistic estimates to be created. Based on these three estimates, an average can be created to predict how long the activity should take.

total float:The total time an activity can be delayed without delaying project completion. 

Unanimity: A group decision method in which everyone must be in agreement.

variablecosts: Costs that change based on the conditions applied in the project (the number of meeting participants, the supply of and demand for materials, and so on).

Variance:The difference between what was expected and what was experienced.

Vroom’s Expectancy Theory: A theory that states that people will behave based on what they expect as a result of their behavior. In other words, people will work in relation to the expected reward. 

WBS dictionary:A WBS companion document that defines all of the characteristics of each element within the WBS. 

WBS template:A prepopulated WBS for repetitive projects. Previous projects’ WBSs are often used as templates for current similar projects.

work breakdown structure (WBS):A deliverables-oriented breakdown of the project scope.

work package: The smallest item in the WBS.