Decomposition

What is Decomposition

Decomposition as defined in PMBOK (5th Edition) is a tool and technique used to divide and subdivide the project scope and deliverable into more smaller, manageable work packages. Once the scope is decomposed, it’ll be the lowest level of WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) which can be estimated and managed in terms of cost and schedule. The size of the work package after decomposition will depend on the complexity and size of the project. At the time of decomposing, activities such as assigning identification codes to each work package will take place.

There are few approaches followed to structure a WBS. The 2 most popular methods are;

  1. Top-down approach
  2. Bottom-up approach
Decomposition
Decomposition

As it’s shown in the above figure, the high level task ‘1’ has been broken down into 4 sub tasks (1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and 1.4) which are further subdivided into smaller work packages.

E.g.: 1.1 has been decomposed into 3 smaller work packages (1.1.1, 1.1.2 and 1.1.3) These work packages are smaller, manageable and can be estimated in terms of cost and schedule.

Decomposition will not be valid and possible for a task or a deliverable that will need to be accomplished and built far into the future. Therefore, project management team has to wait until that particular requirement / deliverable is confirmed, hence a details WBS can be developed. This function is sometimes referred to as ‘rolling wave planning’ (Source: PMBOK, 5th Edition)

In addition, when the project deliverables / activities are decomposed into smaller, manageable work packages, the project management team should be aware of decomposing it to a level which is useful for a valid estimation. If over-decomposed, estimating those work packages will not be possible and the effort put on for decomposition will be a waste. Since this is known to be a team work / activity, everyone on the project team is requested to participate in bringing up the most efficient WBS of the project.

 

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Group Decision-Making Techniques

What are group decision-making techniques

When it comes to Project Management, usually there are multiple stakeholders expecting different outputs from the project life-cycle. Therefore, it’s necessary to implement¬† proper group-decision making techniques and methods. Especially this is important when different opinions clash and make conflicts with each other. In addition, these techniques / method may align with group creativity techniques when it’s required. (prior to the execution of group decision-making techniques)

According to PMBOK (5th Edition), there are 4 different group decision-making techniques that can be applied throughout the entire project life-cycle. They are as follows;

Unanimity

This decision making is defined when everyone participating in the decision-making process agrees on a single course of action. There are few methods that can be followed to achieve this. (E.g.: Delphi technique where group of experts respond to the questionnaire anonymously) Apart from that, this method is known to provide the least hassles on project management team in terms of implementing decision making techniques.

Majority

Majority relies on most number of votes towards a particular decision. (more than 50%) In order to make this technique more efficient, it’s recommended to have an uneven number of people in the decision making panel to avoid resulting in a tied decision.

Plurality

This is a bit of complicated decision making technique and more challenging to understand. According to PMBOK (5th Edition), it is a decision reached by the largest block in a decision making panel though it’s not achieved the majority concept. This method is used when the nominated options are greater than 2, hence the option voted by the largest block of the decision making panel is agreed and confirmed.

Dictatorship

This is known to be the least agreed method to be used among a decision making panel. When the project leader acts as a dictator, he / she is not willing to listen to others and coming up with their own decisions which will have a higher probability to drive the project towards failure. A dictator doesn’t allow to develop group creativity techniques. In addition, due to the dictatorship, the project lead should be accountable for any future conflicts arising within the project community and tasks.

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Group Creativity Techniques

What are Group Creativity Techniques

There are several techniques been defined to follow when it comes to requirement gathering phase. (Source: PMBOK 5th Edition) Group Creativity Techniques are few of them. Under this concept, there are few methods mentioned for effective requirement gathering sessions. Few of them are as follows;

Brainstorming

This is same as interviewing, but recommended to use when there are multiple stakeholders sharing multiple ideas with regards to project / product requirements. This is sometimes referred to as a conference techniques due to the participation of multiple stakeholders.

Nominal Group Technique

This method works with brainstorming as a joint process. Once the ideas are generated through a brainstorming session, the brought up ideas / requirements will be analyzed and prioritized based on their value using the nominal group technique.

Delphi Technique

This is known to be a method of reaching the consensus of subject matter experts (SME). The facilitator has to prepare a list of questions that need to be answered by SMEs and shared among them. Once the SMEs receive the questionnaire, they will answer based on their knowledge and experience and share their opinions with the facilitator. Through this technique, it reduces the bias in the information shared since this technique is mostly following the anonymous techniques where only the facilitator will receive the SME opinions.

Idea / Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a technique which consolidates several opinions collected via brainstorming sessions from individuals and form a central opinion. This mapping view visualizes the different ideas and opinions carried by different stakeholders which follows different deviations from the centralized opinion.

Mind Map
Mind Map

 

Affinity Diagram

This is another technique that goes toe-to-toe with brainstorming and nominal group techniques. It takes ideas from different individuals and group them under different categories for reviewing and analysis purposes.

Multi-criteria Decision Analysis

Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis technique assigns different criteria for requirement evaluation purpose and rank them with a weighted value. Once the requirements are gathered, they will be rated based on the weighted values assigned to each criteria. This technique is mostly used to evaluate risk levels, uncertainties, valuation and other ideas that can be ranked with regards to the weighted criterion value.

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Interviews

What Are Interviews

Interviews are Questions and Answers sessions that can be used for information elicitation purpose from stakeholders in when it comes to different project management activities. (E.g.: Requirement collection) An interview can either be formal or informal and it can be defined as one of the strongest and most efficient requirement gathering techniques in project management.

In order to follow a successful requirement gathering session via interviews, the project management team has to have a prepared set of questions and the response from the client needs to be noted down then and there. Most of the time, an interview is conducted between an interviewer and an interviewee, but there are certain situations where requirements will have to be grabbed from multiple stakeholders at once. In such scenarios, it’s recommended to conduct a brain storming session

When conducting interviews, it’s important to understand who to interview and what sort of questions to ask in order to gather / elicit requirements effectively. Especially, interviewing subject matter experts, experienced project participants and sponsors will help to identify the desired deliverables that need to be produced via the project life-cycle.

 

 

 

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Expert Judgement

What is Expert Judgement?

Expert Judgement is one of the best and very useful techniques used during most of the project management activities. It’s a common technique used throughout the project management processes (among the project management process groups) such as charter development, project management plan development, project execution, monitoring, controlling, closing, etc… It is applied to all the management and technical details whenever needed. When it comes to Project Management, experts are known to be internal or external assets an organization keeps to provide inputs for planning and estimating during planning processes. The experts are mostly needed when the project management team feels that their opinions are very crucial for the success of the project.

The method ‘Expert Judgement’ has a lot of positive outcomes when used properly at the planning phases in Project Management. Not only it saves time for planning and estimating projects, but also it highlights risks that can have an impact towards the project outcomes, hence coming up with a risk response plan will become much easier for the project management team. In addition, the quality and accuracy of the estimations and planning phases become much greater. Most of the projects fail due to inaccurate estimations and less efficient risk management planning, hence it’s always recommended to go for expert judgement when developing the estimates and risk identification process.

Experts do have their own specialized knowledge, training and skills which can be used for different areas. These experts can either be a group or an individual and it’s project management team’s responsibility to identify and select the correct expert for necessary activities.

Experts can be available from many different sources. Few of them are as follows; (Source: PMBOK 5th Edition)

  • Within the same organization, but from different business units
  • Internal / External Consultants
  • Internal / External project stakeholder (it can be customer or sponsor as well)
  • Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
  • Professional and Technical Associations
  • Other Industry Groups
  • Project Management Office (Even among the project managers, there can be subject matter experts who can act as Experts for projects)

 

 

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