Project Management Simply Explained - A Logical Framework to Help Your Understanding


Introduction | PMBoK | Sequence | LifeCycle | Hierarchy
 | Tetrad Trade-off | Success

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 these results?
    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 whole?
    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 product.

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.


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