Project Management

Back to PM Basics (Part 7): How a Home Renovation Helps Us Understand Crucial PM Concepts

Following 20 years at a large Canadian telecommunications firm, Bruce established the project management consulting firm Solutions Management Inc (SMI). Since 1999, he has provided contract project/program management services, been a source for project management support personnel and created/delivered courses to over 7,000 participants in Canada, the United States and England.

You have arrived at the seventh in the series of ongoing project management foundation-building articles. As we continue to progress through the stages of developing a project plan, we will build on the scope definition in Part 5, and the most recent article (Part 6) where techniques to determine how long work packages will take to complete were reviewed.

This article will address the following topics:

  • The basic relationship between sequential work packages
  • The use of lags and leads

Activity/Work Package Sequencing
Starting with a simple question, could the overall duration of a project be determined by simply summing the duration of all the work packages that were estimated using the techniques described in the previous article? The answer is clearly “no.” Much of the work can be completed in parallel to make the best use of project resources while getting the work done as quickly as possible.

When sequencing work, the work packages are indicated as “predecessors” or “successors,” and often both. The A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) defines a predecessor as “an activity that logically comes before a dependent activity in a schedule” (PMI, 2017). By way of an example, painting rooms is a predecessor to installing the flooring in a house renovation project.

A successor


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