Work Plann I Ng Author I Zat I On

After receipt of a contract, some form of authorization is needed before work can begin, even in the planning stage. Both work authorization and work planning authorization are used to release funds, but for different purposes. Work planning authorization releases funds (primarily for functional management) so that scheduling, costs, budgets, and all other types of plans can be prepared prior to the release of operational cycle funds, which hereafter shall be referred to simply as work authorization. Both forms of authorization require the same paperwork. In many companies this work authorization is identified as a subdivided work description (SWD), which is a narrative description of the effort to be performed by the cost center (division-level minimum). This package establishes the work to be performed, the period of performance, and possibly the maximum number of hours available. The SWD is multipurpose in that it can be used to release contract funds, authorize planning, describe activities as identified in the WBS, and, last but not least, release work.

The SWD is one of the key elements in the planning of a program as shown in Figure 11-9. Contract control and administration releases the contract funds by issuing a SWD, which sets forth general contractual requirements and authorizes program management to proceed. Program management issues the SWD to set forth the contractual guidelines and requirements for the functional units. The SWD specifies how the work will be performed, which functional organizations will be involved, and who has what specific responsibilities, and authorizes the utilization of resources within a given time period.

The SWD authorizes both the program team and functional management to begin work. As shown in Figure 11-9, the SWD provides direct input to Phase II of the MCCS. Phase I and Phase II can and do operate simultaneously because it is generally impossible for program office personnel to establish plans, procedures, and schedules without input from the functional units.

The subdivided work description package is used by the operating organizations to further subdivide the effort defined by the WBS into small segments or work packages.

Many people contend that if the data in the work authorization document are different from what was originally defined in the proposal, the project is in trouble right at the start. This may not be the case, because most projects are priced out assuming "unlimited" resources, whereas the hours and dollars in the work authorization document are based upon "limited" resources. This situation is common for companies that thrive on competitive bidding.

No matter how hard we try, planning is not perfect, and sometimes plans fail. Typical reasons include:

• Corporate goals are not understood at the lower organizational levels.

• Plans encompass too much in too little time.

• Financial estimates are poor.

• Plans are based on insufficient data.

• No attempt is being made to systematize the planning process.

• Planning is performed by a planning group.

• No one knows the ultimate objective.

• No one knows the staffing requirements.

• No one knows the major milestone dates, including written reports.

• Project estimates are best guesses, and are not based on standards or history.

• Not enough time has been given for proper estimating.

• No one has bothered to see if there will be personnel available with the necessary skills.

• People are not working toward the same specifications.

• People are consistently shuffled in and out of the project with little regard for schedule.

Why do these situations occur? If corporate goals are not understood, it is because corporate executives have been negligent in providing the necessary strategic information and feedback. If a plan fails because of extreme optimism, then the responsibility lies with both the project and line managers for not assessing risk. Project managers should ask the line managers if the estimates are optimistic or pessimistic, and expect an honest answer. Erroneous financial estimates are the responsibility of the line manager. If the project fails because of a poor definition of the requirements, then the project manager is totally at fault.

Sometimes project plans fail because simple details are forgotten or overlooked. Examples of this might be:

• Neglecting to tell a line manager early enough that the prototype is not ready and that rescheduling is necessary.

• Neglecting to see if the line manager can still provide additional employees for the next two weeks because it was possible to do so six months ago.

Sometimes plans fail because the project manager "bites off more than he can chew," and then something happens, such as his becoming ill. Many projects have failed because the project manager was the only one who knew what was going on and then got sick.

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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