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How do you manage WBS brain fatigue?
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I'm working on my first "starting from nothing" project plan (apart from academic work). The goal is to re-architect and upgrade a complex and highly visible app, which has fallen woefully behind release versions and security patching. Since it is a strategic business app, I want to get my first draft as absolutely polished as possible before sharing with stakeholders for feedback & collaboration.

I am now at the point where I'm running out of ideas about things that could be missing or improved. I have 150 tasks and have planned out 7 months. But I have that nagging feeling that there is still more I could add. So ... here's my questions.

What do you do to freshen up your perspective and look at the project plan in a different way? Sleep on it? Stop there and share with stakeholders because so much is going to change anyway?

Also, how do you manage the "wish list" of misc ideas that come up along the way (but aren't really in scope)? Is there a convenient way to add this to the MS Project doc?

Thx in advance
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I think you got both the main strategies I use: sleep on it, then try sharing with stakeholders to get feedback.
I would not share with all stakeholders, maybe choose a small group or some peers you can talk through it. I find that if I can explain the plan to someone (or even to myself!), it means it makes sense.
I refer to it as a "3D picture": if looking at my "2D" MS project I can picture the flow of information and activities in my head, then I am on the right route.
Do not go crazy with details, you can always apply a rolling wave planning strategy to add details. Keep a list of potential activities to add on one side (a One note/Excel dump will be good enough) and review every few weeks/months to add details to the next stages.
Also remember people working with you on the project may not be pro MS project/Gantt chart users, so going over 3-4 levels in the WBS may not add value as your reporting to Project board is at very high level and daily work is very detailed. You may be better off using a task management tool to communicate with the team the detailed tasks each team member has to work on. Good luck!
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1 reply by Brigitte Fortin
Jan 10, 2019 4:31 PM
Brigitte Fortin
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Hi Valeria, good advice... what kind of task management tools work well?
Network:18



Also, what do you do to allow leveling of the project to occur with overallocated resources that are due to ongoing, low priority work? I am tempted to clone people - Amy1, Amy2 ... so that the right resource is assigned but the leveling doesn't flag the task as an overallocation.
Network:104



There are a few things you can do for a new perspective.

Take a walk, or work on something else for a while. When I stare at a problem for too long, I tend to keep following the same mental pathways and reaching the same conclusions. If I go for a walk or do something else for a while, suddenly the different perspective makes new ideas pop into my head. I do some of my best thinking when I'm not trying to.

Create some different perspectives of the project itself. In the systems architecture world, there are a variety of "views" often created like the Operational View and the Capability View. If you look up the DoDAF "viewpoints" you will find a number of different perspectives to consider and spark ideas. These are also very useful to discuss with the stakeholders before you go too far. I've seen many projects where people created a bunch of functionality that wasn't really needed, but missed what the stakeholders really wanted.
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1 reply by Brigitte Fortin
Jan 10, 2019 4:21 PM
Brigitte Fortin
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I will cross-reference to Operational & Capability Views. Thanks!
Network:1713



First thing to do is understanding that all related to the project must be created from all related to product. I mean, project scope is defined from product scope. Business analyst is accountable for product scope. So, request from business analyst the product scope.
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1 reply by Brigitte Fortin
Jan 10, 2019 4:23 PM
Brigitte Fortin
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I will review my plan with the project/product dichotomy in mind. Unique perspective, thank you!
Network:483



Hi Brigitte .

I am assuming that you are highly technical and knowledgeable at what you do, being an engineer and therefore understanding the technical aspects of projects may come naturally to you.

However, this is a project where you need the assistance from a number of people to make sure that you nail down the scope of your project as accurately as possible.

A Work Break Down Structure would be of most assistance to create your scope items.

Please forget about MS Project and Project Tasks / activities until you have clearly nailed down what your project and product scope is going to be.

Break your work down into Product versus Project Scope

You need to know everything that goes into building an application from :-

Requirements Specifications
Design
Support Plan
Implementation
Release plans
Application Patching Regime
Operation System Patching Regime
Business Continuity Plan
Business Impact Assessment
Privacy and Security Impact Assessment
Test Plan
Test Summary Report
User acceptance Testing
Decommissioning Plan
Data Migration Plan
Procurement Plan

Your Project scope would include things like
Business Proposal
Project Management Plan
Project Schedule
Project Risk Register
Project Issue Register
Stakeholder Register
Communication Plan (if not already a part of the PMP)

You already have an application that needs to change, therefore you need every product related document to be created new or changed.

My advise is for you to meet with your Delivery team (testers, technical lead, BA, support) in a brain storming session and to come up with scope items relating to the Product Scope and whatever else they can think of.

Present your 150 items or so in a hierarchical structure to them and let them add/modify/improve your current understanding

Create a work breakdown structure using post it notes and when you are happy with all the items , you can transcribe it into Visio.

Next step is to break down the individual scope items into activities , after which they will be small enough to put into MS Project.

Once you have your WBS in several levels , you can slice and dice however you would like to do your management reporting.

And remember that your MS Project schedule doesn't have to be War and Peace.

Planning is all about progressive elaboration. Your main task is to answer the following questions asked by management :-

How long will this project take?
Whats the work involved?
Who do you need in your team?
How much is it going to cost?
What is the project going to achieve?
What are the risks if we don't do it?
What are the benefits if we do it?
...
1 reply by Brigitte Fortin
Jan 10, 2019 4:26 PM
Brigitte Fortin
...
Deepesh, Thanks for this comprehensive list! What Risk assessment tools or processes would you recommend?
Network:15055



Definitely share with any stakeholders or experts that are willing to provide input. The PM doesn't need to know everything, but they should try and speak to everyone/anyone that can provide valuable input.
Network:18



Jan 09, 2019 2:48 PM
Replying to Keith Novak
...
There are a few things you can do for a new perspective.

Take a walk, or work on something else for a while. When I stare at a problem for too long, I tend to keep following the same mental pathways and reaching the same conclusions. If I go for a walk or do something else for a while, suddenly the different perspective makes new ideas pop into my head. I do some of my best thinking when I'm not trying to.

Create some different perspectives of the project itself. In the systems architecture world, there are a variety of "views" often created like the Operational View and the Capability View. If you look up the DoDAF "viewpoints" you will find a number of different perspectives to consider and spark ideas. These are also very useful to discuss with the stakeholders before you go too far. I've seen many projects where people created a bunch of functionality that wasn't really needed, but missed what the stakeholders really wanted.
I will cross-reference to Operational & Capability Views. Thanks!
...
1 reply by Keith Novak
Jan 10, 2019 5:51 PM
Keith Novak
...
No problem. Those 2 are just examples. The OV is used very widely. Simply looking at what other views are commonly used might give you some ideas, but you don't necessarily need all of them for all applications.
Network:18



Jan 09, 2019 5:53 PM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
First thing to do is understanding that all related to the project must be created from all related to product. I mean, project scope is defined from product scope. Business analyst is accountable for product scope. So, request from business analyst the product scope.
I will review my plan with the project/product dichotomy in mind. Unique perspective, thank you!
Network:18



Jan 09, 2019 8:07 PM
Replying to Deepesh Rammoorthy, PMP®AgilePM®
...
Hi Brigitte .

I am assuming that you are highly technical and knowledgeable at what you do, being an engineer and therefore understanding the technical aspects of projects may come naturally to you.

However, this is a project where you need the assistance from a number of people to make sure that you nail down the scope of your project as accurately as possible.

A Work Break Down Structure would be of most assistance to create your scope items.

Please forget about MS Project and Project Tasks / activities until you have clearly nailed down what your project and product scope is going to be.

Break your work down into Product versus Project Scope

You need to know everything that goes into building an application from :-

Requirements Specifications
Design
Support Plan
Implementation
Release plans
Application Patching Regime
Operation System Patching Regime
Business Continuity Plan
Business Impact Assessment
Privacy and Security Impact Assessment
Test Plan
Test Summary Report
User acceptance Testing
Decommissioning Plan
Data Migration Plan
Procurement Plan

Your Project scope would include things like
Business Proposal
Project Management Plan
Project Schedule
Project Risk Register
Project Issue Register
Stakeholder Register
Communication Plan (if not already a part of the PMP)

You already have an application that needs to change, therefore you need every product related document to be created new or changed.

My advise is for you to meet with your Delivery team (testers, technical lead, BA, support) in a brain storming session and to come up with scope items relating to the Product Scope and whatever else they can think of.

Present your 150 items or so in a hierarchical structure to them and let them add/modify/improve your current understanding

Create a work breakdown structure using post it notes and when you are happy with all the items , you can transcribe it into Visio.

Next step is to break down the individual scope items into activities , after which they will be small enough to put into MS Project.

Once you have your WBS in several levels , you can slice and dice however you would like to do your management reporting.

And remember that your MS Project schedule doesn't have to be War and Peace.

Planning is all about progressive elaboration. Your main task is to answer the following questions asked by management :-

How long will this project take?
Whats the work involved?
Who do you need in your team?
How much is it going to cost?
What is the project going to achieve?
What are the risks if we don't do it?
What are the benefits if we do it?
Deepesh, Thanks for this comprehensive list! What Risk assessment tools or processes would you recommend?
Network:18



All, I really appreciate all the support. One thing I did this morning that helped was transcribe the plan into a timeline. Seeing the visual helped me identify some missing stages.
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