A number of years back, I met a young engineer at one of my training sessions. Soon after he joined his organization, he received an assignment to design and build a piece of equipment for a client. When he asked his procurement office to order the raw materials he needed, he was told that the material would arrive in six months. He was to notify the procurement office if he hadn't received the raw materials by the promised date. Being young, inexperienced, and new to the organization, he wasn't comfortable trying to fight this established procedure. So he waited for six months.
When he hadn't received his raw materials after six months, he notified the procurement office. The procurement specialist discovered that there had been a fire in the vendor's facilities five months earlier that had caused all production to stop. Production had just resumed the previous week, and the vendor estimated his materials would be shipped in about five months!
The young engineer's Work Breakdown Structure had identified one activity, Buy raw materials, with a duration of six months. He reasoned that, after placing the order, nothing else was to happen until five and one-half months later, when he would start to work on his design and the final materials would arrive two weeks later. How was he to break this activity down further?
I suggested he could have divided the waiting time into one-month intervals and called the vendor at the end of each month to see whether anything could change the projected delivery date. Although checking wouldn't have prevented the fire, he would have known about it five months sooner and could have made other plans immediately.
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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.