Friday, June 17, 2005

Project Communication channels


Communication is everything in a project.. If the communication fails there is no chance for the project to succeed.

If we have a team of 10 people (Including the project Manager) the number of communication channels can be calculated as

n= 10

[ n(n-1)/2 ]

Today I came across with this question:

The project manager of a large multi-location software project team has 24 members, out of which 5 are assigned to testing. Due to recent recommendations by an organizational quality audit team, the project manager is convinced to add a quality professional to lead the test team at additional cost, to the project.

The project manager is aware of the importance of communication, for the success of the project and takes this step of introducing additional communication channels, making it more complex, in order to assure quality levels of the project.

How many additional communication channels are introduced ????

The answer is :

Number of communication channels with “n” members = n*(n-1)/2

Originally the project has 25 members (including the project manager), which makes the total communication channels as 25*24/2 = 300.

With the addition of the quality professional as a member of the project team, the communication channels increase to 26*25/2 = 325.

Therefore, the additional channels as a result of the change, that is, 325-300 = 25.

When the numbers of communication channels are more, there is more chance for miscommunication.

Communication can be verbal or written and it can be formal or informal.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Project Lead and Lag time


There was a question about the difference between Lead time and Lag time in project Management. The best way I can explain it is ;

Lead time happens when a task should theoretically wait for its depend task to finish, but still you can start little early. So the 1st task and the task you start little early will overlap. So we call it lead time.
Ex: You have to test a program once you finished developing it., But if we start testing a small part of it when bout to finish ., that testing time is the lead time.
Lag time – Lag time is the minimum amount of time that should pass between the finish of one activity and the start of another.
Ex: If there are 2 tasks as
1. Painting a picture
2. Framing it
You cannot start the 2nd task before finishing the 1st one like we did in Lead time and we have a time to wait till we start the 2nd one . (Just think you have to wait 1 day till the painting gets dry. So you cant frame as you finish drawing ) So that waiting time is the Lag time.,

If we are working with PERT we can calculate lead and lag time with numbers. In Software projects, I always come across with lead time.. But lag time happens very rarely in scheduling.. Very simple reason….Because in IT, we cant afford to wait :-)

Project constraints


Project constraints are the limitations of a project which you cannot do anything about as a PM.. These constraints should be identified in the project initiation. Basically the project sponsor / customer or the senior management decide the constraints of a project. (Ex: You are getting a software project which you should make available for the 2005 Olympic Opening Ceremony.. Its very simple to identify that “Time” is the main constraint of this project, if you miss the target., no use of doing this project)

But what will happen if everything in a project is a constraint.????. Have you ever faced such situation??? For me its always the case.. :-)

Time is a constraint, Budget is a constraint, and people are constraints… Where will you stand??? Constraints are decided by somebody else., But from the time you are allocated to the project as a PM it's your face the people see.

In this case I always ask myself., Do I honestly think whether this project will be a success?? What will I do if my answer is “NO” I have to get off the train.. But will I catch another train?? And when.?????. So I m left without a choice.

Every customer wants the best product tomorrow, and it may cost less than a dollar. that’s the reason why they outsource projects. :-)

You are a lucky PM , if your top managers have a more realistic view of the matter. They know constraints must leave some room to operate. This doesn't mean they tell you. :-) (I saw this somewhere else)

There are times we cant do anything about the constraint.. Specially when the time is a constraint., But I personally believe you can always negotiate with the stakeholders if you think other constraints make your project impossible. Remember Pming is all about negotiating J But its very important to have a closer look of the defined constraints while project is moving.. We can use the formulas we learn under EVM to monitor these constraints technicaly and be in alert.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Earned Value Management

Earned Value Management (EVM) is one of the key areas in Project cost management..

In the middle of the project , if we want to find the current cost varience of the project, following is the fomula...

EV- AC = CV - Cost Varience (if CV gets + Result you are on budget., negative result will send you home :) )

EV/AC = CPI - Cost Performance Index

if we need the schedule varience at this given time , we can use this formula as follows:

EV- PV = SV - Schedule Varience

EV/PV = SPI - Schedule performance Index

Today I had to do soemthing different to the above, I got a project which is quite beind the budget than estimated and I wanted to find the estimation at completion... Uhhh.... I know I have to reschedule this one .. no way out .. Fast tracking might help to some degree...

Any way I applied little theory I learnt :)

I did the calculation as EAC (Estimate at completion) = AC + ETC becase I didnt see the past performance of the project and the original assumptions are no longer valid for this project ... OOHHHH I saw STARS !!


In the evening I was googling as usual and I found a very useful article about Earn Value Management in the Nasa Site. So I copied it here...

Earned Value Management (EVM) is a program management technique that integrates technical performance requirements, resource planning, with schedules, while taking risk into consideration. The major objectives of applying earned value to a contract are to encourage contractors to use effective internal technical, cost and schedule management control systems, and to permit the customer to rely on timely data produced by those systems for better management insight. This data is in turn used for determining product-oriented contract status, and projecting future performance based on trends to date. In addition, EVM allows better and more effective management decision making to minimize adverse impacts to the project.
Earned value provides an objective measurement of how much work has been accomplished on a project. Using the earned value process, the management team can readily compare how much work has actually been completed against the amount of work planned to be accomplished. All work is planned, budgeted, and scheduled in time-phased "planned value" increments constituting a Performance Measurement Baseline (PMB).
Let’s look at a simplified example:


The baseline plan shown in the above graph illustrates a task with a total budget amount of $240k, which is planned for accomplishment over 24-month time frame. The “time-now” line shows that $100k of the project resources was planned to be completed at this point in the project. Another way to look at this is that the project was planned to be 41.6% complete ($100k / $240k) at this point in time.
As work is performed, it is "earned" on the same basis as it was planned, in dollars or other quantifiable units such as labor hours. Comparing earned value with the planned value measures the dollar value of work accomplished versus the dollar value of work planned. Any difference is called a schedule variance.

Earned Value – Planned Costs = Schedule Variance (SV)


In our example the task was planned to have accomplished $100k worth of work in twelve months, but the real accomplishment was only $60k. The graph shows a “behind schedule” condition. The schedule variance in dollars would be a negative $40k, the difference between the earned value accomplished ($60k), and the value of the planned work ($100k) to date. According to our formula then:

$60k - $100k = ($40k)

The value earned for the work performed compared with the actual cost incurred for the work performed (taken directly from the contractor's accounting systems), provides an objective measure of cost efficiency. Any difference is called a cost variance.

Earned Value – Actual Costs = Cost Variance (CV)

A negative variance means more money was spent for the work accomplished than was planned. Conversely, a positive variance means less money was spent for the work accomplished than was planned to be spent.


From the performing organization’s own accounting system, we determine the actual costs for performing the $60K work was $110K.

When the actual costs are compared with the earned value of $60k, the difference is the cost variance. The earned value of $60k less the actual cost of $110k, is a negative cost variance of $50k. In this example, the task is in an overrun condition by $50k.

$60k - $110k = ($50k)

Analysis of these variances should reveal the factors causing the deviation from plan.

The Task Manager uses this information in conjunction with his knowledge of the task, to project an estimate to complete for this task. The Task Managers analyzes variances resulting from comparisons of these five basic data elements; planned work, work accomplished, actual costs, total budget at completion and the estimate at completion. The work breakdown structure provides a useful framework for summarizing this performance information for all levels of management.

Earned value improves on the "normally used" spend plan concept (budget versus actual incurred cost) by requiring the work in process to be quantified. The planned value, earned value, and actual cost data provides an objective, quantifiable measurement of performance, enabling trend analysis and evaluation of any cost estimate at completion within multiple levels of the project.

EVM is a valuable tool in the Project Manager’s “toolbox” for gaining valuable insight into project performance and is the tool that integrates technical, cost, schedule and risk management. In addition, EVM provides valuable quantifiable performance metrics for forecasting at-completion cost and schedule for their project.
quite usefull right ..??? I got to go back for rescheduling my project.. yyaackk!!!

Free PMP Test links

I think its a good I dea for me to add all the links in 1 post instead adding them everywhere in the blog. So here it goes... I dont know how many of this links will be inactive after soem time.. But Lets do this !!!!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

My first test

I took first free online test . 75 questions., I got only 58.8 % . they say over 50% is good.. But I dont think so.. If I have studied PMBOK I could have got lot more. Some times I feel that its not good to do the test before studing.. But any way may be a self assesment...

I found another interesting site which has some short notes

Project Management .. Is that what you think?

Project management was first used to manage the US space program. It's practice has now been expanded rapidly through the corporate world.. Specially in IT.

PMI says Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities in order to meet the project requirements.

Project Management process includes 5 stages :





and Closing....

Simple yeah ... :))

Sunday, June 05, 2005

PMI Registration.

I registered in PMI today( and it cost me around Rs.13,000.00 It will take one week time for them to process my application. I subscribed for the local chapter as well., but not for knowledge groups.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Welcome to my blog :)

Welcome to my blog.!!, Purpose of this blog is to create a resource base for PMP exam and Project management in day to day practice. This is the best way I find to collect and save all the sample questions and notes while I study. If I can convert my blog to a good knowledge base, other students and PM professionals can use this as well.

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