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Case Study: Phase 2

Case Study: Phase 2

Author: Jeff Carroll

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Source: Image of house, couple, piece of wood, arrow, people silhouette, arrow with circle, man with hardhat, callout box, man with folder, double arrow, computer screen, folder with world, smartphone, images by Video Scribe, License held by Jeff Carroll; Image of project schedule, project budget, risk matrix, Creative Commons, Jeff Carroll; Image of furnace, Public Domain,; Image of 2x4 wood, Public Domain,

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Hi, I'm Jeff. And in this lesson we'll continue our discussion of the case study for a real world project. We're going through all four phases of the project life cycle covering each in a single lesson. This lesson will cover phase two, planning the project. So let's get started.

A reminder that the case study we're using today is the development and construction of an energy-efficient home for a couple. Once the stakeholders have been identified and the project scope documented in phase one it's time to create the various plans that will help a project manager oversee the project.

Our first step will be to use the project scope to define the work breakdown structure, otherwise known as a WBS. For our project we must identify the major activities and the sequence in which they must be completed in order to produce our deliverable, an energy-efficient house.

The major activities in our house construction are create the foundation, build the external structure, and install the internal systems. Activities in a WBS are often given whole numbers such as 1.0, 2.0, et cetera. Then under each activity we would document the major tasks.

For example, in order to be energy-efficient our home must have well insulated walls in the external structure. Under building the external structure there would be the tasks frame walls, spray foam insulation inside, and install insulated foam board outside. Tasks in the WBS are numbered based on the activity they fall under. These tasks would then be number 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3. The project manager working with the team documents all the activities and tasks in this manner. Once the WBS is created then work begins on the remaining plan documents.

The project schedule is created. The project manager takes all the activities and tasks from the WBS and places them in a schedule that outlines how long the project will take. When one task must be completed before another can start this is known as a dependency. And all dependencies must be documented in the schedule.

For example, in our project framing must be completed before drywall can be placed onto the walls. And this is noted in the schedule. This helps a project manager plan when resources must be available to work on specific days.

To plan for these resources the project manager also assigns person resources to each task then gathers estimates from those personnel on the time or effort needed to complete the work. Once the estimates are in the schedule and the schedule is complete the project manager baselines the schedule.

Person resources that are used in the schedule must be documented in a resource plan. Also non-person resources, such as the high efficiency heat pump that will be used to warm our house, must be documented in the resource plan also. The project manager must make sure all tasks and deliverables can be handled by the resources available. If not then the project manager must procure the necessary resources.

From the schedule and the resource plan the budget can then be constructed by the project manager. The budget can include real project costs that are paid for out of the project budget and overhead costs paid for by the organization. For our project there are no overhead costs to include.

The budget must include all person and non-person resources that will be used for the project. From phase one we know that the homeowners wish their project budget to be no greater than 15% more than the average house. It's at this stage where that goal is checked against the reality of the actual project budget. If the actual budget is too high then reductions in the scope may need to occur.

The budget for our project was too high. So the project manager requested a change to different kitchen cabinets to lower the price. The homeowners and the architect approved the change request and the project scope was changed.

The risk management plan is documented during this phase. Each risk is categorized using the risk matrix, which identifies the risk along two axes. One axis is the probability that the risk will occur. A value of high, medium, or low is given to each risk denoting it's likelihood. The other axis is the impact to the project. And it also has values of high, medium, or low. Any risk with a high probability or a high impact rating must have a contingency documented in the risk management plan. This should describe the actions taken if the risk triggers.

One risk in our project would be changes made to the project by the homeowners after major work has occurred. This is a medium probability with a high impact. So it needs a contingency documented. The project manager chooses to lower the chance of the risk by adding tasks to the schedule including the creation of multiple prototypes, both electronic and physical, for the homeowners to review.

Finally, a communication plan is created during the planning phase. Communication is a key skill for a project manager. And all methods available should be used.

In our project the architect and the homeowners will be communicating often. But the project manager should also make sure that both of those stakeholders are aware of the work progressing on the project and any issues encountered during the work. The stakeholders must be immediately notified of any schedule or budget overruns.

For our project the project manager set up a simple online version of the schedule that the homeowners can check at any time. They can also provide feedback on the schedule through this version. The project manager also makes sure email and phone calls are another method for stakeholder feedback.

For the history of the project a decision log is kept of all changes, including the change to kitchen cabinets noted earlier. This log will prove helpful should any disagreements arise later in the project over what was decided.

Once these planning documents are created the project manager presents them to the homeowners and the architect for approval. Once approved the project can move on to phase three, managing the work.

OK, excellent work. In this lesson, we discussed phase two, planning the project using an actual case study. Thanks for listening. And have a great day.