May 7, 2012

PM0011 [Project Planning & Scheduling] Set1 Q1

Q.1 Explain the following 
a. Rolling wave planning
b. Decomposition 
c. Precedence diagramming method 
d. Dependency determination


a. Rolling wave planning:
Rolling wave planning: this is a technique which plans as and when the project unfolds. In this technique the plans are made with the upcoming events. It is not often possible to foresee the future activities in a project with consistent detail over the entire period of the project. Therefore, planning is often done in "waves" or stages, with the activities in the near term planned in detail and the activities in the longer distance of time left for future detail planning. There may in fact be several planning waves, particularly if the precise approach or resource requirement is dependent or conditioned on the near-term activities. Such a planning approach is commonly called rolling wave planning.

The requirements were vague. I couldn’t possible plan for the entire project. However, at least some degree of planning was required to get the project started. So, I used the Rolling Wave Planning technique to plan as far as the requirements were clear enough.

Fundamentals of Rolling Wave Planning
Rolling Wave Planning is a technique that enables you to plan for a project as it unfolds. Therefore, Rolling Wave Planning requires you to plan iteratively. The planning technique is very similar to those used in SCRUM or other Agile Methodologies. Essentially, when you use Rolling Wave Planning, plan until you have visibility, implement, and then re-plan.

For example, suppose you expect to complete the project in eight months, but only have clarity for the first three months. Then, you would plan only for these three months. As the project progresses and you gain more clarity, you would then plan for the remaining months. The Rolling Wave Planning technique uses progressive elaboration, which is the act of elaborating the work packages in greater detail as the project unfolds.

Rolling Wave Planning does not exempt you from creating a list of milestones and assumptions for the entire project. As a matter of fact, it is necessary to provide key milestones and assumptions as it will help stakeholders see why you are using Rolling Wave Planning and what to expect as the project progresses.

Usage of Rolling Wave Planning in Project Management
Rolling Wave Planning is used when you just don’t have enough clarity to plan in detail the entire project. This lack of clarity could come from various factors, such as emerging requirements. Rolling Wave Planning is particularly useful in projects with high uncertainty. Therefore, you must use the Risk Management best practices.

For example, in product development it is common practice to prototype before going into the actual product development. Therefore, in such an environment you would use Rolling Wave Planning to plan the prototype and then make a decision to proceed to implementation. Post the Prototype phase, you would plan once again.

Benefits of Rolling Wave Planning
This iterative approach to planning is commonly found in SCRUM and other Agile Project Management Methodologies. Similar to Agile, Rolling Wave Planning:
  • Encourages adaptability
  • Encourages planning
  • Is great for R&D, High-Tech, Invention projects
  • Is good for projects with changing scope

b. Decomposition:
Defining Decomposition
While it sounds like something you don’t want to happen when planning a project, decomposition can be a useful tool when managing projects. Decomposition is a technique used in project management that breaks down the workload and tasks before the creation of the work breakdown structure. This important step can save time in the long run.

Overview of the Decomposition Process
Roughly, there are six steps involved with the decomposition process. Once you have determined the project objectives, you will need to gather the information involving the project’s deliverables and the tasks that have already been determined. Knowing what needs to be produced as the end products and knowing the important milestones will help guide the project to keep it on course.

Once deliverable and task information has been gathered, decomposition takes a top-down approach to determining tasks and subtasks. The project manager will break down the biggest items (deliverables, milestones, major tasks) into the smallest tasks. This process can occur in the work breakdown structure format, or it can be completed as a mind map and structured later. The idea is to move from the most general aspects of the project to the most specific and detailed tasks in the project. For example, if you are writing a technical manual, you would break it down into its smallest components – chapters. Each chapter could be broken down into research, outline, draft, revision, print-ready copy.
 Once the project has been broken down into the smallest tasks, then work packages can be created. A work package is a collection of related action items that can be assigned to a resource as a sub-set of the whole of work that must be created. Double-check that the project has been sufficiently decomposed into the smallest parts possible.

Finally, the project manager will organize the work packages into the work breakdown structure. Each package can be assigned a specific code. Once the work breakdown structure creation is completed, then the work packages are assigned to resources.

c. Precedence diagramming method: 
Before creating a project schedule, you need to identify and understand the dependencies between project activities. Incorrectly identifying these dependencies typically causes projects to come in late. One of the benefits of PDM is that it helps in understanding project dependencies visually.

Introduction to PDM
PDM is a visual representation technique that depicts the activities involved in a project. Precedence Diagrams are also known as Project Network Diagrams. In this article, both terms are used interchangeably.

PDM helps you to:
Communicate: The visual representation make it easier for you to communicate the flow of project execution or the project activity flow.
Identify missing activities: When an activity is not identified, it’ll never be done. By visually representing the activities, there is a greater chance for your team to identify missing activities.
Identify dependencies: Each activity is dependent on some other activity. When a dependency is not identified, the project will be delayed until such a time that identification occurs. For example, if there is a critical component that is being produced by a third-party vendor, the final product is dependent on the vendor. So, even if you complete all other activities, the project will not be complete until the vendor supplies the critical component.
Identify critical activities: Certain activities have a greater impact on project schedule than others. By using PDMs, you can determine the activities critical to the project schedule. This is known as the Critical Path Method (CPM).
Create a project schedule: The final goal of PDM is to create a practical and robust project schedule.

Types of Dependencies
There are four types of dependencies that you need to be aware of before creating a Precedence Diagram.
Finish-Start: In this dependency, an activity cannot start before a previous activity has ended. For example, you cannot cook a stew before gathering all the ingredients. Therefore, the activity “Gather Ingredients” needs to finish, before the activity “Cook Stew” can begin. This is the most commonly used dependency.
Start-Start: In this dependency, there is a defined relationship between the start of activities.
Finish-Finish: In this dependency, there is a defined relationship between the end dates of activities.
Start-Finish: In this dependency, there is a defined relationship between the start of one activity and the end date of a successor activity. This dependency is rarely used.

Precedence Diagram Notation
The image displays a simple Precedence Diagram

Events: The Start and End oval shapes signify events. An event is a point in time having no duration, which is also known as a milestone. A Precedence Diagram will always have a Start and an End event.
Activity: There are four activities (Activity 1, 2, 3, and 4), each activity is represented by a node.
Dependencies: Each node (Activities and Events) is connected by using uni-directional arrows. This signifies the relationship between activities. The relationship between activities can either be predecessor or successor. For example in the image, Activity 1 has no dependency, Activities 2 and 3 are dependent on Activity 1, while Activity 4 is dependent on Activities 2 and 3.
Note: Since the activities are represented by the node, Precedence Diagrams are also called “activity-on-the-node” diagrams.

A Network Diagram will always have the Start and End events. They may also have other events called milestones. For example, kill-points are milestones. In a Network Diagram, the start of an activity must be linked to the end of another activity.

d. Dependency determination:
In a project network, a dependency is a link amongst a project's terminal elements.

There are four kinds of dependencies with respect to ordering terminal elements (in order of decreasing frequency of use):

1. Finish to start (FS)
A FS B = B can't start before A is finished
(Foundations dug) FS (Concrete poured)

2. Finish to finish (FF)
A FF B = B can't finish before A is finished
(Last chapter written) FF (Entire book written)

3. Start to start (SS).
A SS B = B can't start before A starts

(Project work started) SS (Project management activities started)

4. Start to finish (SF).
A SF B = B can't finish before A starts

(New shift started) SF (Previous shift finished)

Finish-to-start is considered a "natural dependency" whereas all the others are constraints imposed by the scheduler to reflect resource constraints or preferential dependencies. SF is rarely used, and should generally be avoided.

There are three kinds of dependencies with respect to the reason for the existence of dependency:

1. Causal (logical)
   ♣ It is impossible to edit a text before it is written
   ♣ It is illogical to pour concrete before you dig the foundations
2. Resource constraints
   ♣ It is logically possible to paint four walls in a room simultaneously but there is only one painter
3. Discretionary (preferential)
   ♣ I want to paint the living room before painting the dining room, although I could do it the other way round, too

Early critical path-derived schedules often reflected only on causal (logical) or discretionary (preferential) dependencies because the assumption was that resources would be available or could be made available. Since at least the mid-1980s, competent project managers and schedulers have recognized that schedules must be based on resource availability. The critical chain method necessitates taking into account resource constraint-derived dependencies as well.

In addition, these dependencies can be modified by leads, and lags. For example: When building two walls from a novel design, one might start the second wall 2 days after the first so that the second team can learn from the first. This is an example of a lag in a Start-Start relationship.
It may also be useful to specify lead time when tasks are performed in parallel in a Finish-Finish relationship. For example: The work for 'Document A' should finish 5 days before the work for 'Document B' so that the reviewers have time to read each individually. Although Document A and Document B may take different times to write, they will be planned to finish 5 days apart.


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