PM Applications :: Lesson 2 :: Estimating

Estimating

If you’re not properly estimating you are failing to plan.  You want your actual costs to be as close to budgeted as possible.

Estimating = if (occurrence) + when (timing) + how much (magnitude)

An good estimator must be able to 1) pull out cause and effects, 2) assume perfect data but account for imperfect, 3) identify future resources and 4) be prepared to update your estimate based on new input.  Estimates get increasingly less accurate for the longer duration projects, and may need updating as time progresses.

One must be aware of fiscal responsibility :: estimates encompass fixed, variable and overhead costs.  This can be based on prior projects, documentation, field studies, organizational documentation…

Qualitative Estimating Under Certainty (new phrase for me)

– WBS – estimating from the bottom up and adding it up at the top

– Historical Analogy – just like it sounds – look at a project in the past with similar marks/tasks and use that knowledge on your current project

– Walk-Through Method – when there is no prior data just start with a process flow and estimate to the best of your resources

– Delphi Method – (you may have heard of this one) used for long-term trends; ask the SMEs, send questionnaires (sacrifice a few chickens, read your tea leaves…)

Quantitative Estimating Under Certainty

– QUANTitative rather than QUALitative

– Standard Costs/Hours – for validated tasks that occur often / have occurred before

– Ratios – relies on proportions of quantity

– Expected Value – combines quantitative and graphical with probabilities

If you don’t like numbers, stay out of Project Management.

and, of course…

Qualitative Estimating Under Uncertainty

Executive opinion use this – risky but common.

Quantitative Estimating Under Uncertainty

Operations research; use when all outcomes have equal occurrence probability or you are totally clueless (really!).  First create your matrix of probabilities in a spreadsheet with options on one axis and conditions on the other, inputting the benefit/loss for each.
The last few pages of class entertains decision criteria and involves examples which I will leave off for sake of blog-brevity.
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PM Applications :: Lesson 1 :: WBS + Flowcharts

Class #2 of 4 started online last week.  The lesson entailed Data Collection Tools (remember the last class that discussed project management controls?), Work Breakdown Structure and Flowchart types (plan, control, check).  For brevity, I’ll hit upon them, but won’t go in depth.

Check Sheets help determine patterns.  Typically used for smaller projects.  The example given was what I would call a tick-list of scores for a soccer game whereby one can track scores, headers, assists by player and the duration of when they took place.

Histograms help understand patterns as well by observing frequency.  The example given was a bar chart to assess test score ranges, but I figure it can be in other forms.

Do you want to take online courses too at KSU?  http://www.kennesaw.edu/coned/

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) was discussed in PM Fundamentals.  It identifies all activities for a project to determine expectations and scope as well as resources to get the job done.  What and Whom.

There are different methods to WBS:

1.  Flow Format WBS :: for an old COBOL programmer, this was very familiar.  It’s basically drawing the flow of a project from general (on top of the hierarchy) to specific.  This helps when assigning work packages to individuals or groups.  It helps the whole team get on the same page.  Show a Flow Format WBS to customers and management.  (shoot!  I gave too much detail to the client on the last project!)

2.  Indented WBS :: when the project is large and your flow format takes too much space, simply break down your work areas (perhaps you started with a flow format and stopped before getting too specific) and list and indent them.  It’s kind of like going back to your English class in Outlining 101.

Now…again for you (us) programmers, we were taught in college (if school taught) how to flow a process.  Perhaps you’ve been assigned the task of creating a new kids’ iPhone app that allows them to “bake a pie” where they can select the pie type, how large it is, etc (use your imagination).  Before starting the coding, one would create a flowchart.

Flowcharts are just an excellent way to simplify the process. This one is different than the above flow chart in that it also identifies decisions, reports, data storage, etc.  Wiki describes Flowcharting very well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flowchart

Onto Lesson 2.  Hope you’ve enjoyed the ride.

Project Management Applications – KSU Course #2 of 4

Taken verbatim from http://www.ed2go.com/ksuconed/Orientation.aspx?CourseId=297

Course Description:

Increase your value to your employer by discovering and mastering essential quantitative and qualitative project management applications.

A successful project begins with process definition, data collection, and the scoping of project requirements. Every project ends with a motivated project team able to accomplish objectives on time and within budget. Winning projects rely on accurate cost and time estimates, identification of the critical path, and use of tracking and control tools.

In this course, an experienced Project Management Professional will teach you the same powerful tools and techniques that experienced project management professionals rely on every day.

You’ll increase the probability of project success by mastering the tricks of the trade: Earned Value Performance Measurement, Gantt Charts, Network Scheduling, Work Breakdown Structure, and Cost-Volume Analysis.

You’ll become proficient at recruiting project team members and empowering them to succeed. You’ll understand the stages of team development, and you’ll gain skills in developing and motivating team leaders. You’ll learn how to understand and relate to an organizational culture and the differing characteristics of its work groups.

You’ll also learn about project software, statistics, change management, processes, and estimating. And you’ll gain valuable experience with project planning, control and data analysis tools.

The course also includes essential information that will help you prepare for the Project Management Professional (PMP®) and the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®) exams offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI®). Certification Magazine recently identified PMP® Certification as “the highest-paying certification” of the year.

National Night Out – Atlanta

As a representative (self-appointed) of Hotel Row Historic District (on Facebook) in cooperation with Castleberry Hill Neighborhood Association (CHNA), Atlanta Downtown Neighborhood Association (ADNA) and Marietta Street Artery Association (MSAA), we (Hotel Row Merchants) are hosting this year’s NATIONAL NIGHT OUT Campaign to promote neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships in our fight for a safer nation.  If you live in any of the aforementioned neighborhoods or would like to donate time, food, prizes or other, please contact me Kristina McInerny at kmcinerny at gmail.com – THANKS!

Mantra – Motto – Saying – Truth

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again…

NOW is the time to start becoming a role model instead of (solely) looking up to others!  Stand up!

PM Fundamentals :: Lesson 12 :: On PM Closure

This is the last lesson for this course: I’ve already taken the final exam and received a 92%; not sure if I’ll skip right to the PMP or go on for the next 3 courses for KSU’s PM Certification.

All about Closure :: don’t leave any hanging chads.

Part of every plan, one should include and allow time in the schedule for closure review and meeting.  More blown off than lunch with an old Facebook contact (who you never hung out with anyways), the closure is often times skipped.

Why?  (pause for reflection)

Why bother?  It’s already done, right?  We’re onto the next project now… Can’t we just move on?  Hurry up; I have more things to get done by year end…

I’ve closed projects before and sent them to billing without checking the deliverables and we still had 10 more pages to create!!  Oops.  Project closure will help save face.

It will also stop the client from coming back and asking for more work.  If you’ve already set the deliverables, reviewed them, had them signed off, then you have completed your end of the bargain.

Put all of the documentation/materials/notes/tangibles in one common place; not just under your desk.  Hold a meeting, recognize your team (favorably); hand out the tchochke, pay final bills to suppliers, carry out whatever you promised in the plan.

I’m going to bed – take the course…I recommend KSU’s online courses.

PM Fundamentals :: Lesson 11 :: Control Methods

This lesson contains formulas that I will not list in detail because they can be 1) found online and 2) learned through this online KSU course.  Online is wonderful because there is a 2 week grace period, discussion groups and quizzes at the end of each lesson that don’t “count” towards your grade.  The final must receive an 80% or higher.

CONTROL

You must have control in order to measure performance and budget.  There are many ways to measure performance and they are addressed in this lesson:

  • establish performance thresholds
  • use reporting with budgets, charts, graphs and audits (all hit in detail in the lesson, but not to be expounded here)
  • how and when to control; it needs to be effective and efficient
  • Earned Value Formulas compare the cost of work performed (WP looking back) versus the cost of work scheduled (WS looking foward):: are you on budget or over?
  • Earned Value Performance :: ratios to determine completed vs expected:: should never be >1.o otherwise your Budgeted is less than your Actual (BCWP/ACWP)
  • Earned Value Variance Analysis:: how is your project progressing…take cost performed minus actual and you should have a positive number (unless you are behind)
  • audits (conducted by an experienced person) that are transparent and reviewed
  • and so much more…

Here’s an excellent Earned Value White Paper Overview for Project Management Calculations (excerpt: “This paper will begin with an introduction to Earned Value Management, will continue with an overview of Earned Value Management’s role in risk management and culminate with a discussion on the methodology for using Earned Value Management in a project’s risk management program. Also included is a discussion on how software inspections can be utilized in conjunction with Earned Value Management cost performance measurement techniques.”)