Chapter 6. Much, Much, More on WBSs, Networks, and Gantt Charts

The Charter is now complete. Everyone agrees what needs to be done. As they say, the “devil is in the details” and now it’s time to get to the details.

If you have never managed a project before—or even if you have, but not to the scale of your present project—you may be a little daunted as to where to begin. After the initial euphoria of the Charter signing wears off, you may experience what we professionals call a “Yikes” moment, as in, “Yikes! What do I do now?” A good project manager at this point will take a deep breath, collect his or her thoughts, go to his or her tool kit, and begin to start digging into the details of planning the project.

At this point, the project manager has to develop more detail around:

  • What the work is.

  • How long it will take.

  • How much it will cost.

  • Who will do the work.

  • What could go wrong (i.e., risks revisited).

In order to do this, you must develop a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).

This needs to be articulated at an increasing level of detail as the work of the project begins. Not to be caught in the paradigm of “analysis paralysis,” a good project manager undertakes the description of the details using an iterative approach, providing more detail and obtaining more buy-in each time the work of the project is more fully defined. The iterative approach brings clarity to the project plan and enhances communication among stakeholders. We call this “helicoptering in.”

A project needs boundaries. ...

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