Key areas that we will be discussing include:
Often, project managers tend to gloss over the planning phase, or they don't give it the necessary time required. The result is that they inevitably have to compromise on something later in the project to get it finished on time. In order to define the scope of a project, it is necessary to first establish the project objectives. Remember, this is something that we discussed during initiation. Gaining an overview of what the project is all about and considering what needs to be achieved during initiation prepares the project manager to formally clarify objectives and begin scoping the project. Scoping forms the foundation of the planning phase and considers the overall deliverables of the project. To define scope, you need to start by identifying the following:
• First, clarify around the objectives.
• Second, the tasks that need to be performed.
• And third, the resources that will be required.
Once you have identified these elements, you will need to determine the limitations or parameters of the project, and clearly identify any aspects that are to be excluded. Let's take a look at Peter's office project. Peter's office project is quite different from the other scenarios we have looked at. The reason for this is because the project has been handed to him without him being involved in initiating the project. Moreover, he has never managed a project before. As a result, he is in a pretty difficult position, as the information has just been thrown at him with the directive to just get on with it and make it work. The project objective has therefore already been identified, as the development and implementation of a system to help school leavers find jobs in the local community. If Peter is going to be successful, he's really going to have to unpack that broad objective by breaking it down into smaller objectives.
A good starting point would be for Peter to identify the activities that are the next level down to implement such a system. Once he's able to identify those smaller, more manageable activities, he can systematically start planning how these activities might be done. An example of this is meeting with stakeholders on a regular basis. On the one hand, Peter is quite fortunate that he has been given an objective. On the other hand, it will be quite challenging for him, as he was not part of the design and thinking processes in the initiation phase. When scoping a project, you need to be very clear as to what is included in or excluded from the project scope. From a terminology point of view, this is defined as being in scope and out of scope of the project. Poor scope definition leads to the inclusion of additional items or functionality, which will have negative impacts on the project cost and lead to delays in completion. It is worth noting that while you're scoping your project, you're not yet considering time and cost implications. At the scoping stage, you really just want to understand what needs to be done to deliver the project. To further consider what might be in scope and out of scope, let's reference Peter's office project again.
The overall deliverable is to develop and implement a system to help school leavers find jobs within the community. What is in scope in this example is the development and implementation of policies and procedures within Peter's organisation. What is considered out of scope for Peter is each stakeholder developing and implementing their own policies and procedures within their organisations, such as schools and community organisations that he will be dealing with throughout the project life cycle. It is an important task to identify in and out of scope activities early to clarify any issues that may become contentious at a later stage. A common term used in project management during scoping is the Work Breakdown Structure or WBS. A Work Breakdown Structure represents one of the most important project management deliverables. Once the objectives and scope have been defined, a project manager should have a pretty good idea of how work will be broken down into activities and tasks that would need to be executed. The Work Breakdown Structure organises and represents the overall scope of the project. It follows then that if a deliverable does not appear on the WBS, then it should not be undertaken. Have you perhaps given some thought as to how you might approach developing a Work Breakdown Structure for your own project? A good approach to developing the Work Breakdown Structure is to start by identifying all of the project deliverables, and then to sub-divide the work that needs to be undertaken. The WBS is established in the planning phase of the project and will provide the basis for the project manager to then develop the project schedule. The WBS will be revisited and further refined once project risks have been identified and assessed. Let's contextualise the Work Breakdown Structure of Peter's office project. As you can see, the image represents activities that need to be done to complete the project.
The first deliverable or major task, Task 1, is for Peter's organisation to develop its own policy on employment for young people. The next major task, Task 2, is to develop an action plan with secondary schools to create pathways. Task 3 is to develop joint procedures with community services. For each of the major tasks, there are sub-tasks that need to be completed to meet that deliverable. Sub-tasks are the smaller tasks that need to be undertaken to complete a major task. In other words, Peter will consider the major tasks, and then break them down into sub-tasks that need to be completed. In the example of the Work Breakdown Structure, you will note that major Task 2 requires the development of an action plan. To complete such a large task, Peter needs to identify and complete sub-tasks that will contribute to the achievement of the major task. One such example of a sub-task is the organisation of a conference with heads of schools. There will be other sub-tasks that he will need to consider before putting an action plan together. A WBS is developed following a step-by-step process. The smaller and more clearly defined each step is, the more likely successful completion of a major task is in any project will be. Right. Now that we have clarified our scope and have a better understanding of the role of the WBS, the next step is to put together a schedule.
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