Project Planning

Wed, Dec 10, 2008


Project Tree

Project Tree is a hierarchical breakdown of the work to be done in the project. It takes each result/output and shows in sequence, from general to specific, all the activities and tasks required for its production. As such the Project Tree also defines the scope of work of the project ‘“ whatever is not in the Tree is outside the scope of work for the project.

Why would you develop a Project Tree?

  • To define what needs to be done in the project and the order in which tasks should be completed;
  • To determine resource allocation and define tasks for delegation and the skills set required;
  • To confirm a common understanding of the scope of work among Project Sponsor, Steering Committee/senior management and Project Team;
  • To assist with the identification of milestones;
  • To assist with the preparation of a Gantt Chart;
  • To assist with budget estimation; and
  • To assist with identification of project risks by showing areas of uncertainty

Project Tree Examples

In this section, we will learn how to create a Project Tree for a project. Consider the following example of company ABC who wants to reduce errors in order processing:

Results I want to achieve Activities that lead to Results Tasks that make up the activity
Reduce errors 1.1 Train employees 1.1.1 Brainstorm on possible training topics

1.1.2 Purchase or order training material

1.1.3 Make the training schedule

1.1.4 Conduct training

1.2 Motivate employees 1.2.1 Identify performance metrics for reward

1.2.2 Devise reward program for each metric

1.2.3 Communicate Reward program

Consider another example of company ABC wanting to improve its delivery process. To achieve that, it breaks down the project into hierarchical steps as shown in the following table:

Results I want to achieve Activities that lead to Results Tasks that make up the activity
Improve delivery process 1.1 Identify bottle-neck in the process 1.1.1 Map steps in existing process

1.1.2 Identify delay causing elements

1.1.3 Brainstorm solutions for eliminating bottle-necks

1.1.4 Validate feasibility of solutions

1.1.4 Select feasible solution

1.2 Redesign delivery process 1.2.1 Brainstorm on metrics for process

1.1.2 Define process boundaries ‘“ start and end

1.1.3 Brainstorm on process steps as per metrics

1.1.4 Document process

1.3 Train employees 1.3.1 Develop training program

1.3.2 Identify training participants

1.3.3 Schedule training

1.3.4 Conduct training

Creating Project Tree

For the purpose of convenience, a Project Tree can be created in a table as shown below:

Results I want to achieve Activities that lead to Results Tasks that make up the activity
1. 1. 1.
2. 2. 2.
3. 3. 3.

The following steps will guide you on how to make a Project Tree for any project:

  • Results I want to achieve: Write what your goal is across the first row of the table. This is the aim of the plan. It should describe what you ultimately want to achieve.
  • Activities that lead to Results: In the second column, write the activities that contribute to the Results directly. These are all the things that are feasible and need to be performed to produce the Result.
  • Tasks that make up the Activity: Break each activity into sequential smaller units of work, called tasks. Write these in the third column and same row as the activity.

Part 2: Sharing the Project Plan – Communication

Project Communication WHY, the need for communication

What’s the most important skill a project manager has? Communication. Project managers spend about 90% of their time communicating. Project managers spend the bulk of their day communicating news, ideas, and knowledge. A project manager is a communicator.

Sharing ideas and information with the team, your organization and other stakeholders is very important in a project. It can take a lot of time, but it is worth the effort to keep everyone in touch and up to date. This involves more than telling people. It is also about listening and exchanging information and ideas.

Project communications centers on determining who needs what information and when and then produces the plan to provide the needed information. Project communication includes generating, collecting, disseminating, and storing information. Successful projects require successful communication. Communication is the key link between people, ideas, and information.

Successful projects involve significant amounts of communication among various team members. Project Communication helps the team think through what kind of communication mechanisms they will need for a successful project. It helps establish expectations of proactive communication between team members and documents what the team agrees to do: what status reporting will be done, what team meetings will be held, how decisions will get documented, who will participate in various reviews. It also lets people outside the core team know what to expect. It can also document communication that should occur between related projects.

Project Communication should provide:

– A system to gather, organize, store, and disseminate appropriate information to the appropriate people. The system includes procedures for correcting and updating incorrect information that may have been distributed.
– Details on how needed information flows through the project to the correct individuals. The communication structure documents where the information will originate, to whom the information will be sent, and in what modality the information is acceptable.
– Specifics on how the information to be distributed should be organized, the level of expected details for the types of communication, and the terminology expected within the communications.
– Schedules of when the various types of communication should occur
– Methods to retrieve information as needed
– Instructions on how the communications plan can be updated as the project progresses</div>

Gantt Chart ‘“ a place to gather around

A Gantt chart is a tool for planning and scheduling projects. It can be used for communicating the project planning process. The following chart is an example of an accounting company’s project activities:

Example of Gantt Chart [1]

A Gantt Chart can accommodate several details of the project as shown in the above example. It serves as a wonderful tool to communicate and monitor the progress of a project. However, each member of the team may not require all the information that is available in the Chart on a daily basis or be able to comprehend each and every point. Instead the making of the Gantt Chart is a huge team building activity. It brings the team together to understand, comprehend, question and refine the project execution. It helps the team assimilate the gory details of various stages in the project. They know why certain things are performed at a certain time; who can troubleshoot if they have a problem, etc.

So a Gantt Chart can be used for two purposes ‘“ firstly, as an activity for team building wherein the project details can be communicated; secondly, as a template for monitoring the progress of the project.

Tips on using Gantt Chart Effectively

  1. Team building: Gather the team to build the chart. Make sure the team participates equally during these meetings. Equal participation will ensure flow of information and understanding of the project details.
  2. Regular meetings: Revise, refine, brainstorm, etc on the Gantt chart regularly. for example, once a week, 15 minutes before end-of-day, etc. Even after the Chart is made, gather the team for updates. Seek ideas for improvement. This will keep the team in loop and any changes made in the project will be known to all the members.
  3. Chart poster: Display the Chart in the work-area such that the employees can check the status of the project or ensure the process is followed, etc. You can also have space for them to write relevant comments which can be discussed in the meetings.
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