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this content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2017.08.11

Review Three Techniques to Create a Work Breakdown Structure

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is the first step to create a schedule.The WBS helps break the project work into smaller pieces that help more easily understand the work. Here are three techniques that can help you understand the WBS for your project.1. Understand the difference between detail and summary activities

If you look at a WBS activity and determine that it needs to be broken down to another level, the original activity becomes known as a "summary" level. A summary activity represents a logical roll-up of the activities that are under it. On the other hand “detailed” activities are those that have not been broken down further. Once the detailed activities are under the summary activity are completed, the summary activity is also considered to be completed.

2. The top-level of the WBS can be the hardest to define

Sometimes people have a hard time getting a WBS started because they are not sure what to put at the very top and they are uncertain about how to break the work down from there. There are a number of options for defining the WBS at level 1 (under the top level 0).

  • It might make sense to place the major project deliverables directly at level 1, and break the deliverables into smaller components on the next level, if necessary.

  • Another option for level 1 is to describe the organizations that will be involved, such as Sales, Marketing, IT, etc. The next level should describe the deliverables that each organization will produce. 

  • A third option is to look at level 1 in terms of the project life cycle; for instance analysis, design, construct, etc. If that is the best logical way to look at level 1, then level 2 should describe the deliverables produced in each life cycle stage.

Although there are many ways that the WBS can be started, ultimately you want to uncover deliverables.

2. Identify top-level structure first, then deliverables, and then activities

After the top level (or maybe level 2), you start by writing the names of the major deliverables on Post-it notes - one deliverable per note. The deliverables are placed within the organization structure defined at level 1 - by organization, by phase, etc. If any of the deliverables are very large, you can create a lower level under that deliverable that describe the deliverable at a lower level. This lower level is a "work package". In general two levels should be enough to describe the deliverables and the work packages that make up the deliverable. A very complex deliverable might need three levels.

At this point you have a deliverable-based WBS. You can break the work down further into the detailed activities that are needed to actually build the deliverables. If you go to this kevel you have an activity-based WBS.



At TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit www.TenStep.com or contact us at admin@TenStep.com
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this content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2017.08.11

Review Three Techniques to Create a Work Breakdown Structure

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is the first step to create a schedule.The WBS helps break the project work into smaller pieces that help more easily understand the work. Here are three techniques that can help you understand the WBS for your project.1. Understand the difference between detail and summary activities

If you look at a WBS activity and determine that it needs to be broken down to another level, the original activity becomes known as a "summary" level. A summary activity represents a logical roll-up of the activities that are under it. On the other hand “detailed” activities are those that have not been broken down further. Once the detailed activities are under the summary activity are completed, the summary activity is also considered to be completed.

2. The top-level of the WBS can be the hardest to define

Sometimes people have a hard time getting a WBS started because they are not sure what to put at the very top and they are uncertain about how to break the work down from there. There are a number of options for defining the WBS at level 1 (under the top level 0).

  • It might make sense to place the major project deliverables directly at level 1, and break the deliverables into smaller components on the next level, if necessary.

  • Another option for level 1 is to describe the organizations that will be involved, such as Sales, Marketing, IT, etc. The next level should describe the deliverables that each organization will produce. 

  • A third option is to look at level 1 in terms of the project life cycle; for instance analysis, design, construct, etc. If that is the best logical way to look at level 1, then level 2 should describe the deliverables produced in each life cycle stage.

Although there are many ways that the WBS can be started, ultimately you want to uncover deliverables.

2. Identify top-level structure first, then deliverables, and then activities

After the top level (or maybe level 2), you start by writing the names of the major deliverables on Post-it notes - one deliverable per note. The deliverables are placed within the organization structure defined at level 1 - by organization, by phase, etc. If any of the deliverables are very large, you can create a lower level under that deliverable that describe the deliverable at a lower level. This lower level is a "work package". In general two levels should be enough to describe the deliverables and the work packages that make up the deliverable. A very complex deliverable might need three levels.

At this point you have a deliverable-based WBS. You can break the work down further into the detailed activities that are needed to actually build the deliverables. If you go to this kevel you have an activity-based WBS.



At TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit www.TenStep.com or contact us at admin@TenStep.com
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403Click Here to Listen to the interview: http://bit.ly/PMPodcast403
Read More: http://bit.ly/PMPodcast_403

Advanced product quality planning (or APQP) is a framework of procedures and techniques used to develop products in industry, particularly the automotive industry.

This interview about APQP with Marygracesoleil Ericson (LinkedIn Profile) was recorded one day before the excellent Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Conference 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.

Marygracesoleil was an attendee of the congress (not a speaker) who contacted me and suggested that we do an interview on a topic relevant to her industry. She is the PMO manager of a car audio equipment manufacturer, leading a team of program managers who build designs and coponents for the audio divisions in the automotive industry. If you have a premium sound system in your car then you might be using their speakers.

For more information about APQP please visit the APQP Wikipedia Page.

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402Click Here to Listen to the interview: http://bit.ly/PMPodcast402
Read More: http://bit.ly/PMPodcast-402

Here are some buzzwords for you:
Multi-generational teams. Generational shifts. Inter- and intra-generational communication. Multi-generational workplace. Millennials vs baby boomers. I think you get the idea... right? We’re here today to talk about how old I am... :-) Just kidding... we’re here to talk about generational sensitivity and diversity and how to make the best of it in project management.

And in order to explore this generational topic we turn to our "soft side expert" Margaret Meloni (www.margaretmeloni.com). She has been an IT and project manager for some time and has had the pleasure to work with people from many generations. And I’m not saying she’s old either...

Wednesday, 01 November 2017 17:15

Goals, Strategies and Objectives Explained

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this content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2017.01.11

Goals, Strategies and Objectives Explained

The definition of goals, strategies and objectives can vary from company to company. Here is the TenStep definition. I think it is a good one.  

Business Goals

TenStep does not use the term “project goals”. Goals are set at the organization level – not the project level. Objectives are at the project level.

Goals are high-level statements that describe what are organization is trying to focus on for the next three to five years. They are vague (on purpose) and they are direction-setting. Because the goal is at a high-level, it will take many projects over a long period of time to achieve the goal. The goal should reference the business benefit in terms of cost, speed and/or quality. (We call this "better, faster, cheaper".)

Goals are vague, but not too vague. If you can measure the achievement of your goal in one year (i.e. 25% revenue increase by the end of the year), it is written at too low a level and is more of an objective. If your goal is not achievable through any combination of projects, it is probably written at too high a level. Perhaps it is more of a vision.

Business Strategies

Business goals tell you what is important. Strategies tell you how you are going to achieve the goals. There may be many ways to achieve your business goals. Your organization’s strategies are a high-level set of directives that articulate how the organization will achieve the goals, and ultimately move toward its long-term vision. Strategies are more inwardly focused and usually try to leverage internal capabilities. For example, many organizations want to get better at project management. Getting better at project management will not directly align to a "better, faster, cheaper" goal. It is more of a "how" so it better aligns to strategy. Your organization could have a strategy to execute projects more effectively and a project management initiative can align to this strategy. 

(By the way, your company's Strategic Plan likely includes both goals and strategy statements.)

Project Objectives

Objectives are concrete statements that describe the things the project is trying to achieve. An objective should be written at level that it can be evaluated at the conclusion of a project to see whether it was achieved. A well-worded objective can be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound (SMART). SMART is a technique for wording the objective. An objective does not absolutely have to be SMART to be valid.

Objectives are important because they show an agreement between the project manager and the project sponsor on the main purpose of the project. The objectives should be written in a way that they are understandable by all of the project stakeholders. Objectives are also valuable since they provide alignment to organization goals and strategies. The project objectives should align to your organization goals or strategies. 


At TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit www.TenStep.com or contact us at admin@TenStep.com

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