Not Clearly Defined


Put a detailed plan in place and get started


Define a framework and get started


Make an educated guess and get started

High Clarity Low Clarity

Figure I.1 Approaches to managing a project.

High Clarity Low Clarity

Figure I.1 Approaches to managing a project.

APF is an approach that spans the gap between TPM and xPM. At the same time, we want you to appreciate the traditional and extreme approaches and know when and how to use them. If we are successful in developing an appreciation for all three methods, we will have a taxonomy consisting of approaches that will meet the need for a sound approach to project management regardless of the nature of the project. The appropriate approach can be chosen once the type of project is known. Specifically:

■ Figure I.1 shows that TPM works when the goal and the solution are clearly defined. If any one of the goal or solution is not clearly defined, we need another approach.

■■ When the solution is not clear, the appropriate approach is APF. This is discussed in detail in Part II, "Adaptive Project Framework."

■■ When the goal is not clear, the appropriate approach is xPM, which is discussed in detail in Chapter 19.

Examples of all three approaches abound:

■■ A project to install an intranet system in a field office is clearly a traditional project. This project will have been done several times, and the steps to complete it are documented.

■ A good example of an adaptive project is taken from history: John F. Kennedy's challenge to put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade. The goal statement could not be clearer. How it was to be accomplished was anybody's guess. There certainly were some ideas floating around NASA, but the detail was not there.

■■ There are hundreds of examples of extreme project from the brief era of the late 1990s. Executives, in an attempt to maintain parity with their competition, got wrapped up in a feeding frenzy over the Internet. They challenged their technical staffs to build them a Web site ASAP where they could conduct either B2B or B2C activities. They had no ideas what it would look like or perhaps even what it would do, but they would know it when they saw it. The goal was very vague, and how it would be reached was anybody's guess.

One more concept differentiates these three approaches—the way the project converges on the solution. It is important that you understand these differences, because they explain much of what is done in the course of using each approach.

This concept is illustrated in Figure I.2 and the differences are as follows:

■ TPM projects follow a very detailed plan that is built before any work is done on the project. The plan is based on the assumption that the goal (that is, the solution) is clearly specified at the outset. Apart from minor aberrations caused by change requests, the plan is followed and the goal achieved. The success of this approach is based on a correct specification of the goal during project definition and the initial scoping activities.

■ APF projects follow a detailed plan, but the plan is not built at the beginning of the project. Instead, the plan is built in stages at the completion of each cycle that defines the APF project life cycle. The budget and the timebox (that is, the window of time within which the project must be completed) of the APF project are specified at the outset. At the completion of each cycle, the team and the client review what has been done and adjust the plan going forward. Using this approach the solution emerges piecemeal. Because planning has been done just-in-time and because little time and effort was spent on planning and scheduling solution components that never ended up in the final solution, an APF project finishes in less time and less cost than a TPM project.

■■ xPM projects do not follow a plan in the sense of TPM or APF projects. Instead, an xPM project makes informed guesses as to what the final goal (or solution) will be. The guess is not very specific, as Figure I.2 conveys. A cycle of work is planned based on the assumption that the guess is reasonable. At the completion of the cycle, just as in the case of an APF project, a review of what was learned and discovered is factored into the

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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