Is the sequence of PMBoK functions significant?
In Figure 1 we presented a graphic
portrayal of the project management process and identified eight
project management functions. Now we will look at these components
more closely. Note especially that here is some logic behind the
sequence of the functions as shown. When you read in a clockwise
direction from the top of the figure, this represents the necessary
sequence which you must apply when planning a project.
In planning a project you need to know:
- First and foremost, what is it that is to be delivered?
i.e. The project's Scope
- To what standards are these things going to be delivered?
i.e. The Quality of the products
- How long is it estimated to take and in what sequence will we
do the necessary work
i.e. The Time involved
- Now, and only now, can we seriously estimate what will be the
estimated funding required?
i.e. The Cost involved
- How certain are we that we can do all of this?
i.e. The associated Risk (and opportunities)
- What is the quality of human performance required to achieve
i.e. The Quality of the process
- What skills are needed to do the work?
i.e. The Human Resources required
- What resources must be outsourced (contracted for) or what corporate
commitments must be obtained (procured internally)
i.e. The Contract/Procurement arrangements
- How is all of this to be melded into an effective and efficient
By Information/Communications of course!
While this sequence in planning is by no means absolute, when ordered
in this way the functions do display a dynamic and progressive relationship.
That is, the planning phases of a project can generally best be
accomplished by a progressive flow of information, as well as flow
of work, through the project management process in the sequence
described. In planning there is of course a great deal of iteration
required, but the sequence does serve to provide linking and clarification.
In managing the production phases of the project, on the other
hand, we tend to move sequentially upward through the list (i.e.
anti-clockwise from the bottom left of Figure
1 on the previous page). First, communication must be effectively
established with the people responsible to get them to do what is
required and refer to the contract or other form of commitment for
the agreed upon details. The work is done by the individuals duly
assigned, and this applies to the executives and line managers as
well as members of the project team. They must use their skills
to move the project forward and, as indicated in the list above,
the quality of their performance will determine the quality of the
Thus, the functional information flow read from the top constitutes
What is to be managed, while the process flow read up from
the bottom reflects How it is to be managed.
It will be noted that the first four functions in the list are
the traditional, relatively well-defined, passive components of
project management. They should be defined as far as possible prior
to commencement of the production phases of the project in order
to provide a basis for project control. Their documentation
may be said to be hard, i.e., scope and quality by
requirements and specifications, time by schedules and charts, and
cost by budgets, reports and analyses. Time and cost are the firmer
by virtue of having a mathematical base. The last four functions,
while documentable, require personal interaction and may be said
to be the soft components of project management. They
tend to be dependent upon the social sciences, and make a great
deal of use of management theory.
Quality is particularly important because it is a pivotal
function. It bridges the transition between the hard and
soft components since it has two parts, the hard part of product
quality, and the soft part of the quality of human performance.
It is the latter which in fact determines the quality of the product.
The cost and timeliness of all these various activities required
to produce the end products to the required quality will together,
and in large measure, determine the project's success.