Implementing Micro Level Project Planning

Micro-level planning is another step in the decomposition of the tasks that are assigned to an individual. It involves a decomposition to what we will call subtasks. In some cases, these subtasks may be a very simple to-do list or, in more complex situations, might appear as a very small project network. Remember that we are dealing with tasks that have met the six WBS completion criteria and are therefore relatively simple tasks or short duration.

Micro-level project planning begins with the lowest-level activity that is defined in the WBS. Because it appears in the WBS, it will have management oversight by the project manager. The responsibility for completing this activity within a defined window of time will be assigned to an activity manager (or team leader, if you prefer). The activity may be simple enough so that all of the work of completing it is done by the activity manager. In more complex situations, a small team assigned to the activity manager will actually complete the work of the activity. We'll use the word subteam in the discussion that follows, but recognize that the team may be only one person, the activity manager.

The first thing the subteam must do is to continue the decomposition that was done in building the WBS. But this decomposition will be at the task level. The tasks might be nothing more than a simple to-do list that is executed in a linear fashion. More complex activities will actually generate an activity network diagram composed of tasks and their dependency relationships. Recall that the activity met the completeness criteria discussed in Chapter 4. These activities will each be less than two weeks' duration, so the tasks that make them up will be of lesser duration. The decomposition should be fairly simple and result in tasks of one to three days' duration. We would be surprised if it took more than 10 tasks to define the work of the activity.

Using a project management software package to create the micro-level plan and its accompanying schedule is overkill. Our suggestion is that you define the tasks, their dependency relationship, and schedule on a white board using Post-It notes and marking pens. Figure 7.2 is an example of what that white board display might look like. The activity consists of seven tasks that are shown in the upper portion of the figure along with their dependencies.

The lower portion of the figure shows the time scaled schedule for the three members of the subteam. The shaded areas of the schedule are non-workdays and days when a resource is not available. Half-day time segments are the lowest level of granularity used.

This activity is typical of others in the project plan. It is simple enough so that all of the work can be done at the white board. Updating is very simple. There is no need for software support. It simply adds management overhead with little return on the investment of time expended to capture and manage it.

In the next section, we make the transition to work packages. What we have done so far is decompose a task into subtasks. In other words, we have a list of things that have to be done in order to complete the task. The work package describes exactly how we are going to accomplish the task through the identified subtasks. In other words, it is a mini-plan for our task.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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