What's a Project Manager to do (Next)?
Former students reporting in after taking the exam state that many situational questions ask, "What should the project manager do next?" That prompted me to add this appendix of chronological steps. It roughly follows TheCourse sequence, with these specific exception – Plan Risk Management, Develop HR Plan and Acquire Project Team are listed earlier than in the course syllabus. (I considered restructuring the course accordingly, but decided it wasn't practical at this juncture.)
Studying this list will not prepare you to answer any 'what should you do next' question you might encounter. I hope it will help, and comments you send after taking the exam will be considered in updating the list. The order is often arbitrary, as (a) it often makes little difference which of two steps is done first, (b) many steps are conducted simultaneously, and (c) steps are frequently repetitive. The following sequence commences in course segment 3.
Before the project commences.
1. Conduct a Business Case study and establish a business need for the project that is consistent with the organization's strategic goals. These steps are not part of the project sequence as presented in 4th edition, but rather are inputs to the Develop Charter Process – but somebody has to do them.
2. Assign a Project Manager asap, preferably soon enough to help write the charter. Again, somebody else must make the assignment.
3. Establish measurable objectives, success criteria and a milestone schedule.
4. Produce a summary budget, probably using analogous mythology.
5. Write the charter and get it approved.
6. Identify stakeholders.
7. Analyze and qualify stakeholders as to interest, influence, impact, etc. and develop a 'management strategy' for each.
8. Publish the Stakeholder Register and Stakeholder Analysis Matrix; the latter with restricted distribution.
Develop Project Management Plan.
9. Establish the project life cycle for inclusion in the Project Management Plan. (Each phase may be subject to review of the business case and confirmation that the project continues to be justified. A new or revised charter may be required for each phase.)
10. Develop or adopt a Change Management Plan for inclusion in the Project Management Plan.
11. Develop and publish the complete outline for the Project Management Plan with placeholders for subsidiary plans. It should be accompanied by a Supporting Detail document in which alternatives, sources and the basis and rationale of estimates will be saved.
Develop Scope Management Plan.
12. Develop the Scope Management Plan and add it to the Project Management Plan. Its primary focus should be guidelines for collecting requirements, producing scope statement, producing the WBS, conducting scope change control, and scope verification. (This is not a discrete PMBOK process and could be considered a subset of Develop Project Management Plan.)
13. Collect and document user requirements, exposing and resolving conflicting perceptions.
14. Produce a Requirements Management Plan and Traceability Matrix; perhaps more than one of the latter.
15. Analyze the products of the project. If the project is in its early phases where a good deal of 'progressive elaboration' is required, this step could be long and tedious, overlapping with many other steps.
16. Specify discrete deliverables, exclusions, constraints and assumptions and acceptance criteria and obtain approval from the customer.
17. Subdivide deliverables and project work into work packages. This typically is the beginning of computer-based planning using project management software (PMS).
18. Produce the WBS dictionary, a major text-based document that corresponds to the WBS, where the latter is contained within the PMS.
19. Conduct Make or Buy analysis if required, and decide on procurements including types of contract. Multiple visits may be made to the Plan Procurements Process in response to contract staffing needs and risk responses.
20. Establish a budget for each procurement. PMBOK does not tell us when and where this is done, and it could be part of budgeting.
21. Produce a Statement of Work and evaluation criteria for each procurement.
22. Produce the Procurement Management Plan and add it to the Project Management Plan.
23. PMBOK includes developing the Request for Proposals as part of the Plan Procurements process, but it need not be done at the same time. We include the Plan Procurements Process at this point because it must be done in conjunction with the WBS process.
Plan Risk Management.
24. Assess risks. TheCourse does not include Plan Risk Management Process this early, but it should.
25. Make decisions on risk identification, qualification and quantification methods.
26. Establish the management reserve.
27. Establish the Risk Event Impact matrix. (PMBOK puts the Risk Scoring matrix in the same category. We believe the Event Impact matrix must be developed to correspond to the priorities of each project, whereas the Scoring matrix represents the risk propensity of the organization and evolves very slowly.)
28. Publish the Risk Management Plan and add it to the Project Management Plan.
Develop the Schedule Management Plan.
29. Develop Schedule Management Plan and add it to the Project Management Plan. (This is not a discrete PMBOK process and could be considered a subset of Develop Project Management Plan.)
30. Identify all the activities required to product the work packages and as many of their attributes as can be determined at this point. In my experience, this is part of production of the WBS, it is done in PM software, and there is no distinction between work packages and activities.
31. If applicable, recognize the need for and make accommodation for rolling wave planning.
32. Establish the relationships among activities, producing a network chart. This is nearly always done using project management software, simply by adding the relationship attributes to the activities already in the software – and very likely at the same time as the work packages and activities are specified.
Estimate Activity Resources and Estimate Activity Duration.
33. Estimate activity resources and durations, including allowances for risk contingencies. PMBOK says resource estimates are made first and fed as an input into duration estimates. In practice they are more often done at the same time in project management software, and very likely at the same time as work packages and activities are identified.
Develop Human Resources Plan and Acquire Project Team.
This and Acquire Project Team must be performed before the schedule can be completed and before the budget and performance measurement baseline can be finalized. This order is more accurate than TheCourse syllabus.
34. Determine specific staffing requirements and produce position descriptions, RAM charts and project organization chart.
35. Develop the Human Resources Plan and add it to the Project Management Plan.
36. Complete staffing of the project through negotiations, preassignment and acquisition. This process can be perpetual for long projects or repetitious for multi-phase projects.
37. Perform scheduling, including crashing, resource leveling and adding & adjusting leads and lags. The schedule remains preliminary until resources have been assigned and confirmed.
Prepare Cost Management Plan.
38. Prepare Cost Management Plan and add it to the Project Management Plan. (This is not a discrete PMBOK process and could be considered a subset of Develop Project Management Plan.)
39. Estimate costs of work packages and/or activities, considering allowances for risk contingencies. However they are derived, the documentation is in project management software. PMBOK includes vendor bid analysis as part of the process. Basis of estimates in included in Supporting Detail.
40. Integrate scope, costs and schedule to produce the budget or performance measurement baseline. This is the point at which the triple constraints are finally brought together and it can be determined if they are compatible. Further negotiations and compromises may follow if they are not. Budgets are determined in different ways; the ideal being to accumulate all cost estimates including overhead, and adding profit if applicable.
41. If the project is subject to incremental funding, determine funding schedule including management reserve and reconcile with the schedule. Save in the Supporting Detail.
42. Develop quality metrics for each work package, for each assembly, and for each deliverable. Organize into checklists where applicable.
43. Produce a Process Improvement Plan.
44. Produce the Quality Management Plan, organize its review by peers and add it to the Project Management Plan.
45. Perform fresh stakeholder analysis from the perspective of communications requirements.
46. Assess immediate and long-term communication resource requirements.
47. Publish the Communications Management Plan with emphasis on who needs what information, in what form and on what schedule, and responsibility for delivery, and add it to the Project Management Plan.
Identify Risks, perform Qualitative & Quantitative Analysis and Plan Risk Responses.
48. Identify risks and triggers and initiate the Risk Register.
49. Assess risk data quality; if inadequate collect better data.
50. Determine risk impacts.
51. Score risks.
52. Employ necessary support from statisticians and perform specified quantitative risk analysis.
53. Develop responses for each negative or positive risk and assign risk owners.
54. Route specific cost and time contingency amounts to corresponding estimating processes.
55. Route new contract requirements to the Plan Procurements Process.
56. Maintain the risk register throughout these steps.
Develop Project Team.
57. Assemble the initial team for a kick-off meeting; establish ground rules for acceptable language & actions.
58. Organize facilities; co-location or war room.
59. Establish training schedule if applicable.
60. Institute recognition & rewards program if applicable.
61. As new staff members join the team, reiterate the above.
62. Be alert to effectiveness of development activities; make and document assessments.
Manage Project Team.
63. Observe; be alert to interactions among team members.
64. Evaluate team performance vis-à-vis assessments of development, 360-degree feedback, assigned roles & responsibilities, and take corrective actions as appropriate. Provide input to organization's performance evaluation.
65. Be alert to conflict and don't let it linger.
66. Maintain an issue log.
Direct & Manage Execution.
67. Focus on the plan, especially the network chart that shows who should be doing what and when.
68. Assign and direct work, using a work authorization system.
69. Keep informed on the status of work, staff members and products.
70. Implement approved defect repairs.
In my mind, project quality control is inseparable from execution.
71. Direct the execution of the Quality Control Plan, which is driven by execution and should be included in the network chart. Thus it gets done (according to Norris) as part of Direct & Manage Execution. Promptly subject completed work packages and assemblies, and ultimately integrated deliverable products, to their quality metrics, document the results, and initiate defect repairs where appropriate.
72. Remember that quality control includes project performance as well as product quality. Monitor the project's vital statistics; at least cpi, spi and eac and initiate corrective actions when appropriate.
73. As quality assurance is primarily conducted by auditors that are not under the direction of the project manager, the PM's options are limited.
74. PMBOK also includes process analysis as a tool & technique of QA, which is execution of the process improvement plan. It is not clear who is expected to conduct the analysis.
Monitor and Control Risks.
75. Conduct periodic meetings of risk owners to review the status of their assigned risks., or a 'Risk Team Leader' may conduct it.
76. When a known risk occurs, initiate the planned response.
77. Periodically assess trends of project vital statistics and assess these; monitor technical performance and analyze management reserve. Initiate additional risk response planning whenever indicated.
78. When an unplanned risk is identified, initiate a workaround plan.
79. Initiate change requests when appropriate to authorize risk responses.
Earned Value Management.
80. Periodically, usually monthly, bring actual performance (costs & status) up to date and execute earned value processes at work package and perhaps control account level.
81. Make work performance measurements including cpi, spi, and etc available for publication by the Report Performance Process.
Control Costs, Scope & Schedule (Except EV).
82. Update corresponding documentation when change requests are approved.
83. Analyze variance from corresponding baseline, judge whether corrective action is needed and if so, summit change request.
84. Document causes of variances.
Monitor & Control Project Work.
85. When deemed appropriate, duplicate selected elements of various monitor and control processes to effectively be competent as to the status of the project and the accuracy of reporting by the project.
86. Maintain a project information base.
Distribute Information and Report Performance.
87. Supervise the execution of the Communications Management Plan as scheduled.
Manage Stakeholder Expectations.
88. Be sensitive to issues developing with stakeholders, and deal with threatening situations promptly.
89. Maintain an issue log of stakeholder issues.
Perform Integrated Change Control.
90. Maintain the logging and tracking of proposed changes.
91. Supervise the impact evaluation of proposed changes.
92. If responsibility to approval or disapproval of proposed changes has been delegated to the project manager, make those judgments; otherwise, coordinate the evaluation by the change control authority.
93. See that approved change requests are routed for appropriate execution and documentation.
94. Schedule customer product acceptance inspection and conduct the process.
95. Organize corrective actions and reschedule repeat inspections as necessary.
96. Maintain signed formal acceptances.
Close Project or Phase.
97. Conduct a review of all documentation to assure that all products have been formally accepted.
98. Coordinate reassignment of staff, including updating of skills in resource pool.
99. Supervise creation of archives.
100. Execute closure procedure.
I include writing and publishing the RFP, although PMBOK includes it with Plan Procurements.
101. Write the RFP or other procurement documents.
102. Advertise the procurement.
103. Conduct bidders conference.
104. Accept proposals.
105. Screen out nonresponsive proposals.
106. Weight proposals based on published evaluation criteria.
107. Negotiate and award contract(s).
Normally contract administration is performed by specialists outside the project team. A project in a small organization might mot have such specialists. That is the assumption made in the following steps.
108. Assure compliance with contract terms.
109. Conduct quality or risk audits if authorized by the contract.
110. Accept and evaluate performance reports.
111. Accept invoices and approve for payment or communicate with contractor as to why they cannot be paid.
112. Deal with proposed contract changes.
113. Administer claims management.
114. Conduct a procurement audit: Conduct a review of all documentation to assure that all products have been formally accepted, Execute closure procedure.
115. Issue formal letter of completion to the contractor.