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Posts Tagged ‘CPA’

Since the 1950’s when the Work Breakdown Structure and Critical Path Analysis were developed, there have been a lot of developments in technology, tools, and management techniques.  But there has not been anything created to replace the benefit of a work breakdown structure (WBS) and a critical path analysis (CPA).  We recently implemented these as a standard on all internal projects.  Our version of the WBS is very simplified, outlining the major deliverables that are in scope for the particular project.  These deliverables become the focal point throughout the project.  They are summary tasks in the project schedule (Gantt), they are on the project web site with planned and actual dates of completion, and they are the primary communication of project status on our status reports.  The PM will create the initial draft, get contributions from the core project team, then get approval from the customer.  If these deliverables change, it is a scope change which impacts the schedule, resources, budget or all three.  We then take this WBS into a meeting with the project team and do a CPA session.  We use a non-tech approach by literaly using sticky notes for tasks identified by the team, color coded by resource type, and stick them on a whiteboard.  Always starting from the end and working backwards, we go step by step and selecting which task that has to happen just before the prior task.  We draw the different paths, estimate work effort and duration for each task, and identify critical path.  In a two hour session, the PM walks out of the room with enough data to create his/her project schedule.  To speed up this process, we created a “Service Catalog”, which is basically a project schedule with activities that are common to the organization.  By flushing out the details of these repetitive tasks as a pre-approved standard by the organization, the project teams do not need to recreate the wheel each time, but only focus on the new items for this project.  By using these methods, you can develop a project schedule in a very short timeframe.  It works well with an agile or Lean project approach.  The old methods are sometimes the best methods.

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