With the sort of organization-generic, project-specific methodology described here, projects can be started up more quickly and, given a project history database, can be estimated and staffed more effectively. In an hour or so a project manager can answer the first six project planning questions:
1. What tasks have to be done?
2. Which of them must be complete before others can be started?
3. What skills are needed for them?
4. Who is available when, for how much time?
5. How long will it take?
6. How many people are needed?
To answer the first question, a project manager works through the questionnaire and runs the rule-based job to generate what the methodology thinks is the minimum set of tasks for this particular project. The second question is answered by the same job, which has the ability to work out project-specific dependencies from generic dependencies.
To determine these dependencies, the methodology says that task A must be done before task B, which must be done before task C, which must be done before task D. For example, if a result of the questionnaire is that tasks B and C are ruled not relevant to the project, the tool should then create the project-specific dependency that task A must be completed before task D.
To answer the third question, using the project tasks the tool can determine the subset of roles that are relevant to the project, list them for the project manager, and, given a project history database, list the people who have played each role on previous projects.
To answer the fourth question, the project manager needs access to the future schedules of the people who have the necessary skills. Of course, people are sometimes assigned to a project full time and this simplifies the scheduling job. The most effective way to answer the last two questions is to have project histories available, so that estimates can be based on actual experience.
The adaptive mechanism of a modern methodology means that, although every project is different, the same chart of accounts is used to build up the history. So, in every project that involves database design, for example, the time involved is charged to a generic task with a standard identifier and a standard name.
M. Hammer and J. Champy, Re-engineering the Corporation, New York: HarperCollins, 1993.
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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.