Recently I have had the opportunity to speak to more than 2,000 Project Management Professionals (PMP’s)
During those sessions I conducted non-scientific polls to determine the depth and breadth of the application of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) standards to which this group had been tested for this prestigious professional certification.
Frankly, I was shocked with the results of my simple survey. Fundamentally, I sought two pieces of input:
1. How many of the PMPs were consistently utilising the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) on their projects as described in the PMBOK® Guide?
2. How many were implementing the Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM) using the WBS Work Packages to determine logic relationships/work flow?
When asked to simply raise their hand if their response to my verbal query was affirmative, the data distribution among the 2,000 plus respondents was as follows:
1. WBS: a total of 31 (less than 2%) PMPs raised their hands
2. PDM: a total of 19 (less than 1%) PMPs raised their hands
About the Work Breakdown Structure
Interpretation: As a profession, we’ve got a problem! We have far too many individuals who have worked hard, attended the best project management training and invested time and money in earning their PMP® credential, but now are admittedly not adhering to the very standards to which they were tested and should be held accountable.
The reason I chose the WBS and PDM as the basis for my informal study was that these two concepts are at the heart of successful project management. Without proper and dedicated attention to developing these two “products” from the myriad tools and techniques available to today’s project management professional for planning and executing a project, the rest of the tools may well be “smoke and mirrors.”
First, let’s examine the potential of the WBS. Most PMPs would admit that one of the biggest challenges facing them in successfully delivering the traditional triple constraint is the lack of clarity of scope definition and/or requirements clarification. The careful use of the WBS concept will reduce or eliminate this problem by providing the framework to decompose the work/deliverables to a size that significantly enhances the clarity and articulation of expectations among all involved parties. This will create the basis for one of the most important components of project management—measurement of status/accomplishment over time. The smaller the work package, the more precisely status can be measured based upon objective indicator milestones with designated completion criteria.
Additionally, the more clarity in the work content/requirements the more effectively a “skill set match” can be achieved. Also, the impacts of skill set mismatch caused by resource capability/availability constraints can be evaluated. The impact on the project’s timing and cost can be calculated using:
(Effort or Productivity) ÷ Resource Availability
(Effort or Productivity) x Resource Rate
The benefits of the well-developed WBS are not limited to an individual project. The enterprise project benefits become obvious as individual project data can be “merged” to facilitate project prioritisation. This is based on resource capacity and work load conditions that can be quickly assessed and vital decisions made as to resource assignments based on mission-critical projects criteria. In addition to all of these advantages, there is the significantly improved ability to identify and manage change as it occurs on the project. You can begin to see why the WBS is at the heart of productive use of the project management process.
In my next blog posting I will cover how many of the PMP’s surveyed were implementing the Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM) using the WBS Work Packages to determine logic relationships/work flow.