Today’s deep dive into the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition is into the third part of Project Schedule Management: the Sequence Activities process. I’m going to call out the differences between this process and what we used to have in the PMBOK Guide® -- Fifth Edition.
Sequence Activities Process
This is the third process in the Knowledge Area. We’re still in the Planning process group.
This process is about putting the activities you’ve already defined into a logical sequence. The main output is your network diagram, which shows how tasks link. However, I don’t think I’ve ever created a network diagram for a project. I’ve certainly sequenced activities, but I’ve never done it in such a formal way. A few sticky notes on some flip chart paper or just common sense as I’m putting the Gantt chart together tend to be the way I go about it. I’m sure there are projects that would benefit from a detailed network diagram, and I don’t doubt that it is a useful tool.
I’m from the school of thought that says don’t do things for the sake of them, just because the book says so, as long as you get the right result. I expect earlier in my career I spent more time checking the order of activities before defining my schedule, but now it all seems to happen as part of an integrated afternoon of planning.
Back to the detail of this process…
There are quite a few changes to the Inputs between the PMBOK Guide® -- Fifth Edition and Sixth Editions. Having said that, in essence the main change is that the detailed list of documents has been removed, and replaced with the generic Project Management Plan and Project Documents. These are nice catch all inputs that also allow a more broad interpretation of what needs to be considered for activity sequencing.
Tools & Techniques
The only change to the Tools and Techniques is the addition of your project management information system. In other words, PMI acknowledges that you probably won’t create a network diagram using paper and pens.
Your PMIS is most likely an integrated project scheduling tool. If it does Gantt charts, it probably does network diagrams too, so you can print one out to prove you have it if ever you need it. I have looked at network diagrams in Microsoft Project before, so despite not actively putting them together as a distinct step before scheduling, I have found them useful for a visual representation of the project overall, especially when some activities look out of sequence or I can’t work out how the dependencies should look.
Software is helpful for:
- Planning, organising and switching round activities so they appear in the right sequence
- Managing dependencies, leads, lags and logical connections (plus making these connections visual on the Gantt chart and in the network diagram)
- Helping you make the best choice for the dependencies used – I find that as there are options, I’m more likely to use the options, instead of always plumping for the Start to Finish type
- Saving time. No one’s got time to produce a network diagram or project schedule from scratch, have they?
There are no new outputs. Nice and easy. It’s all as it was before.
You’d expect this process to be followed by Estimate Activity Resources, but that’s actually been moved to the Resource Management Knowledge Area.
That means next time I’ll be looking at Estimate Activity Durations.
Pin for later reading: