Assignment 3: Work Breakdown Schedules, Uncertainty, and Dependency Relationships.
Write a develop a three to five (3–5) page paper that addresses the following:
- Describe the elements of the project plan that depend on the WBS, and provide examples of any four (4).
- Discuss the potential risks and circumstances under which it might be appropriate to use a WBS from a previous project rather than develop a new one.
- Explain why it is useful to have a complete WBS before engaging in formal uncertainty assessment.
- Explain the difference between hard logic and soft logic for establishing dependency relationships in project schedules and offer a creative example (not from the text) for each one.
The format of the paper is to be as follows:
- Typed, double-spaced, Times New Roman font (size 12), one-inch margins on all sides, APA format.
- Use headers for each of the subjects being covered, followed by your response.
- In addition to the three to five (3–5) pages required, a title page is to be included. The title page is to contain the title of the assignment, your name, the instructor’s name, the course title, and the date.
Note: You will be graded on the quality of your answers, the logic/organization of the report, your language skills, and your writing skills.
BUS 380: Work Breakdown Schedules, Uncertainty, and Dependency Relationships
BUS 380: Work Breakdown Schedules, Uncertainty, and Dependency Relationships
Managing any project requires a proactive strategy for overseeing an undertaking from the initial stages of its establishment up to the final stages which mark the project’s completion. This means that planning a project involves breaking down the complex components of a project into sub-constituents in such a way that the decomposition of all the project’s sections enhances the management of the varied sections of a project. Therefore, this is where a work breakdown schedule (WBS) fits in the overall hierarchical decomposition of the entire project’s operations, timelines, and deliverables. This paper explores the WBS through looking at components of the project plan which are dependent on a work breakdown schedule, the significance of completing a work breakdown schedule before uncertainty assessment, circumstances which could justify the use of a previous project’s WBS as well as the inherent risks involved, and the difference between soft and hard logic for creating dependency relationships.
Elements of a Project Plan Which are Dependent on a WBS
A project plan acts as the roadmap through which the project team could juxtapose their intentions against the project’s realistic timelines, expertise, and, resources. As such, in project planning, the WBS is a tool of critical importance based on how it facilitates the breaking down of a project’s sections into chunks which are highly manageable (Burke, 2013). Some of the project plan’s elements are dependent on a work breakdown schedule. Firstly, are the roles which the project team members are expected to play. Kerzner (2013) pointed out that individual team players in a project need to have clear-cut roles. Therefore, the project plan has to encompass the role of different professionals in the project. This facet of the project plan is dependent on a WBS since this tool confers the project manager the power to assign project tasks to different team members. For that reason, when each project member understands the time allocated to them, as indicated in the work breakdown schedule, they can work toward beating the set deadlines.
The second element of the project plan which relies on a WBS is the project scope. In planning a project, it is imperative to know the scope of the project (Burke, 2013). This ensures that the project management team does not veer off the expectations of the project. On this note, a WBS enhances the definition of the project’s scope at the sub-component level. In other words, when the project’s constituents have been appropriately defined, regarding their scope, the project could remain along an active trajectory. It, therefore, becomes possible to reduce the chances of engaging in extra work right from the planning phase. For example, in systems engineering projects, the WBS enables the project manager to identify the scope to which changes have to be made; thus, empowering the project leader to make basic changes during the project’s planning phase.
Thirdly, are the project deliverables. Kerzner (2013) argued out that the project deliverables are the most important motivators for completing a project. During project planning, the planners have to recognize the quantifiable outcomes of the undertaking. Project deliverables depend on a work breakdown schedule since the WBS subdivides the deliverables into tasks which could be accomplished within realistic timeframes (Burke, 2013). Therefore, overseeing the independent measurable units follows a logical approach.
The final element is the risks. In planning a project, the project’s managers scrutinize the threats that could impede the successful completion of a project within the designated constraints. For that reason, the WBS abstracts the potential risks which could forestall a project. As a result, the project manager could, for example, devise techniques which could preclude risks.
Circumstances Which Could Necessitate Using a Previous Project’s WBS
While it is habitually essential to develop new work breakdown schedules for each project, there are situations in which using a work breakdown schedule from the previous project could be suitable. However, such WBS could have a unique set of risks. Firstly, a WBS of an earlier project would be appropriate if there are time constraints in developing a new work breakdown schedule. Burke (2013) articulated that for WBS to achieve high efficacy levels, it is important that the developers of the work breakdown schedules examine the intricacies of the subcomponents of a project. This shows that a thorough work breakdown schedule needs to factor in the unique dimension of time. Therefore, in situations where time is a limiting factor, it would be necessary to use a work breakdown schedule from a previous project. Notably, such WBS can only accomplish the expected result if the project management team carefully evaluates the previously-prepared work breakdown schedule.
Also, a work breakdown schedule from a previously completed project would be applicable in circumstances in which a current project resembles another project right from the scope, the resources needed, and the timelines. This implies that if a project resembles another project in every dimension, it would be justifiable to use the previous project’s WBS instead of developing an entirely new WBS. Similarly, it would be more appropriate to utilize a WBS from a prior project in case the project management team that is overseeing a current project is the same team that managed a similar project that had been completed earlier.
However, despite the gains of using a previously prepared WBS, there are potential risks. Firstly, is the risk of misinterpreting a previous project’s dynamics with that of a current project. As such, transferring the WBS means that the project management team might not stand a good chance of identifying resource-related risks which could be different based on the dynamic nature of projects. Secondly, there is the risk of an inaccurate evaluation of the project’s real scope despite the project management having completed a similar project in the past. This implies that the project could extend beyond the designated time and resources.
Significance of having a Complete WBS before Formal Uncertainty Assessment
Before engaging in formal uncertainty assessment, it is worthwhile to have a complete work breakdown schedule. Projects typically have varied uncertainties (Kerzner, 2013). Therefore, having a full WBS before assessing the uncertainties which could degenerate into risks enables the project manager and their team to base the resolutions their make on factual parameters on the complete WBS. In other words, having a comprehensive work breakdown schedule enables the process of formally determining the project uncertainties to have intricate facts based on the background information which a complete WBS provides. For that reason, before any engagement in formal uncertainty assessment could be deemed as offering a realistic chance of proactively identifying a wide range of uncertainties, the project management team should have a complete work breakdown schedule. While assigning probabilities to uncertainties is relatively difficult (Burke, 2013) compared to risks, a complete WBS enhances the likelihood of accurately managing the project risks.
Difference between Soft Logic and Hard Logic for Establishing Dependency Relationships
In project scheduling, dependency relationships are indispensable. The primary difference between soft and hard logic is that hard logic is a mandatory dependency, while soft logic is a discretionary dependency. In broad terms, while hard logic necessitates the completion of a predecessor activity before the commencement of a successor task, soft logic base the relationship between project tasks and activities based on the best practices which the project management team desires, concerning the project’s schedule. For example, for a construction project, the contractor who utilizes hard logic could opt to construct the road leading to the construction site, to ease the transportation of materials, before constructing the main building. Similarly, the contractor could opt to use soft logic to construct both the road and the building simultaneously at their discretion.
This discussion has delved into some of a work breakdown schedule’s facets as well as important aspects of uncertainty assessment and dependency relationships. Through the affirmations of the report, it is apparent that a WBS is imperative if a project’s leadership and team members, by extension, need to see the bigger picture underpinning the risks and similar intricacies involved in a project’s timing and deliverables. Therefore, from a surface level view, the levels of the decomposition of a project offer crucial insights into form uncertainty assessment. This paper forms an elemental structure for project leaders to review the extent to which the project, which they oversee have factored in the essential importance of a work breakdown schedule toward the success of their undertakings.
Burke, R. (2013). Project management: planning and control techniques. New Jersey, USA.
Kerzner, H. (2013). Project management: a systems approach to planning, scheduling, and
controlling. John Wiley & Sons.