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

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;


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 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.


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.


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;


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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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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Project Scope Management

What is Project Scope Management

Project Scope Management includes the activities necessary to make sure that any particular project contains all and only required work to complete the project by achieving its objectives. This is a major knowledge area which is thoroughly followed, tracked and reviewed by the project team continuously since scope is considered one of the critical factors that the success of failure of a project relies on.

There are 6 major processes identified by PMBOK 5th Edition under project scope management knowledge area. They are as follows;

Plan Scope Management

This is the process of developing a plan on how the project activities / work / scope will be defined, validated, controlled and managed. Throughout the entire project, this plan guides the project management team on how to manage the scope of the project. This is a subsidiary plan of the Project Integration Management plan.

Collect Requirements

This process includes the activities to define, determine, manage and document the stakeholders’ needs and requirements to achieve the project objectives. This process segment consists of both the project scope as well as the product scope.

Define Scope

This includes the activities to develop a detailed description of the project and product. It’s important to execute this process carefully since it involves in declining the project boundaries of the project by defining which of the collected requirements will be included and excluded from the agreed project scope.

Create Work Breakdown Structure

This is another important activity defined under project scope management knowledge area. It subdivides the project work and deliverables into smaller, manageable components. The main objective of this process it to provide a more clear, structured vision of what needs to be done and delivered. This is also recognized as a ‘Team Building’ activity and it requires every team member to participate and define the work.

Validate Scope

Validate Scope functions on formalizing the process of accepting the completed project deliverables. It supports the project team to increase the probability of accepting the final product, service or the result by validating each deliverable.

Control Scope

This is the final process stated under project scope management. It monitors the status of the project and product scope handle the changes to the scope baseline. Controlling the project scope ensures that every change request and recommended corrective or preventive action to be undergone via the ‘Perform Integrated Change Control’ process. This is a mandatory process since changes to the project are inevitable and unavoidable, hence there should be some kind of a controlling mechanism to maintain the project scope without unnecessary deviations.

Below table shows under which Project Management Process Group the above processes are performed.

Initiating Planning Executing Monitoring and Controlling Closing
No Process  Performed 1. Plan Scope Management
2. Collect Requirements
3. Define Scope
4. Create WBS
No Process  Performed 1. Validate Scope
2. Control Scope
No Process  Performed

**Please note that each and every individual process mentioned above will be explained further separately.



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