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


Introduction | PMBoK | Sequence | LifeCycle | Hierarchy
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Some interesting Project Life Cycle Variables

In our last two pages we discussed PLC and observed the hierarchical nature of its components. In many ways, the things that make project management unique as a discipline can only be displayed in the PLC sequence. Many of the process features of project management exhibit marked and characteristic variation during the course of the PLC, thus making project management more complex and success more difficult to attain. Figure 4 shows two variables which are briefly described as follows.

Figure 4: Two Variables
Figure 4: Two Variables

Potential for Adding Value

The potential for adding value to the products of a project are obviously highest during the conceptual phase of the project and lowest during the finishing phase. Between these two extremes, the curve tends to follow a reverse "S" curve as shown in the figure.

Escalating Cost to Change or Fix

Conversely, the cost of making changes is lowest in the planning phases, but rises more and more steeply as the project progresses through the two production phases. In construction, for example, it has been suggested that the cost to make a change, or fix a non-conformance, increases by ten times through each succeeding major phase.

Adding Value vs. Cost to Change

If the Cost-to-Change curve is considered in conjunction with that of Adding-Value, the implications to management decision making become readily apparent. The intersection of the two curves probably represents the point at which a change in scope changes from a constructive opportunity into a destructive intervention.

On this issue, Boznak makes a powerful argument in favor of complete and early planning to eliminate later changes. In drawing a comparison between North American and Japanese practice he stated:[7]

Japanese manufacturers achieve project control much earlier than U.S. manufacturers. In fact, the U.S. (approach) corresponds with the ... philosophy ingrained in many of today's largest companies 'We'll know it when we see it.' A significant advantage of early project control is that it creates a plateau of stability to facilitate productivity improvements ... (and earlier delivery) ... . When projects are not well managed, assigned resources have a difficult time establishing their work priorities. As a result, program instability is subconsciously factored into functional estimates ... ."

Project Life Cycle  Project Life Cycle Hierarchy

7. R.G. Boznak, Project Management Journal, September 1991, p13.

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