Step Identify project products and activities

The more detailed planning of the individual activities that will be needed now takes place. The longer term planning is broad and in outline, while the more immediate tasks are planned in some detail.

Step 4.1: Identify and describe project products (or deliverables)

In general there can be no project products that do not have activities that create them. Wherever possible, we ought also to ensure the reverse: that there are no activities that do not produce a tangible product. Making sure we have identified all the things the project is to create helps us to ensure that all the activities we need to carry out are accounted for.

These products will include a large number of technical products including training material and operating instructions, but also products to do with the management and the quality of the project. Planning documents would, for example, be management products.

The products will form a hierarchy. The main products will have sets of component products, which in turn might have sub-component products and so on. These relationships can be documented in a Product Breakdown Structure (PBS).

This part of the planning process draws heavily on the standards laid down in PRINCE 2. These specify that products at the bottom of the PBS should be documented by Product Descriptions, which contain:

• the name/identity of the product;

• the purpose of the product;

• the derivation of the product (that is, the other products from which it is derived);

• the composition of the product;

• the relevant standards;

the quality criteria that should apply to it.

Case Study Example: PBS

At IOE, Amanda finds that there is a standard PBS that she can use as a check-list for her own project.

Brigette at Brightmouth College has no installation standard PBS, although she can, of course, refer to various books for standard check-lists. She decides that one part of the PBS should contain the products needed to help select the appropriate hardware and software for the payroll application (Figure 2.2).

Figure 2.2 A fragment of the PBS for the Brightmouth College Payroll Project.

Step 4.2: Document generic product flows

Some of the products will need some other product to exist first before they can be created. For example, a program design must be created before the program can be written and the program specification must exist before the design can be commenced. These relationships can be portrayed in a Product Flow Diagram (PFD). Figure 2.3 gives an example.

Project Design Flow Diagram

Figure 2.3 A fragment of a PFD.

Case Study Example: At IOE, Amanda has a standard installation PFD. Many of the products that will IOE has standard PFD make up Amanda's application will be of the same type: hence the same generic

PFD will apply to each instance. It is pointless in these circumstances to draw up a separate PFD for each instance of the product.

Exercise 2.2 Draw up a possible Product Flow Diagram (PFD) based on the Product

Breakdown Structure (PBS) shown in Figure 2.2. This represents the products that will be produced when gathering information to be presented to potential suppliers of the hardware. The volume figures are for such things as the number of employees for whom records will have to be maintained.

This may be delayed to later in the project when more information is known.

Step 4.3: Recognize product instances

Where the same generic PFD fragment relates to more than one instance of a particular type of product, an attempt should be made to identify each of those instances.

Case Study Example: identifying product instances

Amanda decides that there are likely to be four major software modules needed in her application for which the PFD fragment in Figure 2.3 would be appropriate

The products that Brigette can identify at the present all have a single instance.

Step 4.4: Produce ideal activity network

In order to generate one product from another there must be one or more activities that carry out the transformation. By identifying these activities we can create an activity network, which shows the tasks that have to be carried out and the order in which they have to be executed.

Case Study Example: Part of the initial activity network for the IOE Maintenance Group Accounts Activity network for IOE project might look like Figure 2.4. Maintenance Accounts

Exercise 2.3 Draw up an Activity Network for the Product Flow Diagram that you created in

Exercise 2.2 (or the PFD given in the solution if you prefer!).

The activity networks are 'ideal' in the sense that no account has been taken of resource constraints. For example in Figure 2.4, it is assumed that resources are available for all four software modules to be developed in parallel.

Step 4.5: Modify the ideal to take into account need for stages and checkpoints

The approach to sequencing activities described above encourages the formulation of a plan that will minimize the overall duration, or 'elapsed time', for the project. It assumes that an activity will start as soon as the preceding ones upon which it depends have been completed.

There might, however, be a need to modify this by dividing the project into stages and introducing checkpoint activities. These are activities that draw together the products of preceding activities to check that they are compatible. These checkpoints are sometimes referred to as milestone events. A checkpoint could potentially delay work on some elements of the project - there has to be a trade-off between efficiency and quality.

Amanda decides that after the four modules have been specified, the four Exercise 2.4 specifications need to be carefully checked to see that they are consistent and compatible. Redraw the activity network in Figure 2.4 to reflect this.

Figure 2.4 An activity network fragment for the IOE Maintenance Group

Accounts project.

Figure 2.4 An activity network fragment for the IOE Maintenance Group

Accounts project.

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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Responses

  • laura
    What is products and activities of a project?
    2 years ago
  • Anne
    How to identify the project products?
    1 month ago

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