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Friday, July 1, 2011

Chapter 59: Directing and Managing Project Execution

The project work defined in the project management plan is performed using the Direct and Manage Project Execution process. While executing this process, you will be interacting with other processes and departments in your organization. In general, a project team includes people from different departments. Usually the reporting relationships within the same department are very well defined and structured. However, the relationships between different departments (especially between individuals from different departments at the same level of authority) are not well defined. So, managing such project interfaces is a crucial function of a project manager during project execution. Generally speaking, project interfaces are the formal and informal boundaries and relationships among team members, departments, organizations, or functions. For example, how the development department and the QA department interact with each other while working on the same project. Directing and managing project execution is the process used to manage various technical and organizational interfaces in the project to facilitate smooth execution of the project work.

The main purposes of directing and managing project execution are:
• Producing the project deliverables by executing the project management plan
• Implementing the approved changes, defect repairs, and other actions
• Implementing the planned methods, processes, and standards
• Producing and distributing status information

The key words during execution are implement, manage, and inform (status).

The picture below explains the Direct & Manage Project Execution process.


Inputs to Directing and Managing Project Execution

The input to directing and managing project execution mainly consists of the items that need to be implemented. The information on the project work that needs to be performed to produce project deliverables is the major input to this process. They are:

Project management plan - Directing and managing project execution is all about implementing the project management plan, which contains all the major subsidiary plans, such as the scope baseline, the schedule baseline, the cost baseline, and the quality baseline. It also describes how the work will be executed to meet the project objectives and produce deliverables that satisfy the planned requirements.
Approved change requests - The following approved change-related items are input to the project execution because they must be implemented.
Change requests - The approved requests for changes to the project schedule, scope, cost, policies, procedures, and project management plan need to be implemented and therefore are the input to the execution process. These change requests are scheduled for execution by the project management team.
Defect repairs - This is the list of defects found during the quality assurance (QA) process that have been approved for repairs. This may also include the defects that were repaired, but the repair was not good enough to be accepted.
Corrective actions - The QA process can recommend corrective actions to improve quality, which are directions for executing the project work to bring expected project performance into conformance with the project management plan. The approved corrective actions must be scheduled for implementation.
Preventive actions - These are directions to perform an activity that will reduce the probability of negative consequences associated with project risks. These preventive actions are recommended by the QA process during process analysis.

Trivia:
Though accepting change requests is part of project execution phase and invariably every project gets CRs, the point to note here is that, accepting too many change requests might significantly affect the project execution. By spending effort on new CRs you may be depleting the time available or regular development work and eventually end up in a soup. So we must be careful.

Enterprise environmental factors – Enterprise factors that can be useful or need to be considered in directing and managing project execution include organizational structure and culture; company infrastructure, such as facilities and equipment; personnel administration, such as hiring and firing guidelines; and project management information systems. Stakeholder risk tolerance is also an important input factor to directing and managing project execution.
Organizational process assets – Organizational Assets that can be useful or need to be considered in directing and managing project execution include standardized work guidelines, workplace security requirements, project files from previous projects, and the issue and defect management database.

In a nutshell, the project management plan and approved change requests are the major input to directing and managing project execution because executing the project is all about implementing the project management plan along with the approved change requests.

Tools and Techniques for Directing and Managing Project Execution

The major tool to direct and manage project execution is the project management information system, which is a collection of tools and techniques; both manual and automated, used to gather, integrate, and disseminate the output of project management processes. This may include automated scheduling tools; a configuration management system; an information entry, storage, and distribution system; and interfaces to other online systems. This system is used to facilitate processes from the initiation stage all the way to the closing stage. Microsoft Project, a product that lets you create a project schedule, is a very widely used example of such a tool.

Another tool used in directing and managing project execution is expert judgment, which, depending on the issue and the available resources, can be provided by the project manager, other individuals from other departments and groups within the organization, consultants, stakeholders, or professional associations.

Output of Directing and Managing Project Execution

When the project is being executed, at each point in time there are some deliverables with parts thereof completed, and there is a status for the project that can be reported to the stakeholders. The following are the output of this process:

Deliverables - A deliverable is a unique and identifiable product, service, or result identified in the project management plan that must be generated to complete the project. The core purpose of executing the project management plan is to produce deliverables.
When you are directing and managing project execution, obviously the items are being implemented. In addition to the work that produces original deliverables, the following items are implemented during project execution:
• Approved change requests
• Approved corrective actions recommended by the QA process
• Approved preventive actions recommended by the QA process
• Approved defect repairs recommended by the QA process
Change requests - During the execution of the project work, requests for changes may arise from sources such as issues and may affect certain aspects of the project, such as:
• Project scope
• Project cost
• Project schedule
• Policies or procedures
These change requests might come from inside or outside the performing organization and can be optional or mandated legally or contractually. These change requests must be approved before they can be processed and implemented. These change requests can include:
Direct change requests - These are changes that are not a result of any other action, such as defect repair. Examples are requests for changes to scope, schedule, and cost. Of course, these changes can also result from other change requests, listed below.
Indirect change requests - These include:
o Defect repairs - This is the list of the defects found during the quality assurance (QA) process that have been approved for repairs.
o Corrective actions - The QA process can recommend corrective actions to improve quality, which are directions for executing the project work to bring expected project performance into conformance with the project management plan. The approved corrective actions must be scheduled for implementation.
o Preventive actions - These are directions to perform an activity that will reduce the probability of negative consequences associated with project risks. These preventive actions are recommended by the QA process during process analysis.

After some change requests are approved, you may need to change some elements of the project management plan, such as the project baseline, human resource management plan, requirements management plan, or communication management plan.

Work performance information - Monitoring the project status is one of the crucial functions of a project manager during project execution. Work performance information is basically the project status information that is regularly collected and distributed among the stakeholders during project execution. It includes:
• The schedule progress information:
o Schedule activities that have been finished and those that have started
o Estimate to complete the schedule activities that have started and hence are in progress
o The portion of each in progress activity completed in a percentage; for ex: Activity A is 50% done
o Deliverables that have been completed and those that have not yet been completed
• Incurred costs compared to authorized costs
• Resource utilization details
• How well the quality standards are being met
• Lessons learned and added to the knowledge base

To summarize, the main output of directing and managing project execution is the project deliverables specified in the project management plan and the performance data as the work progresses. Between planning the project and producing the deliverables, many things need to happen, and you need to manage them by:
• Distributing information
• Managing stakeholder expectations
• Acquiring, developing, and managing the project team
• Performing quality assurance
• Conducting procurements
Therefore, the Direct and Manage Project Execution process is a high-level umbrella process, and to execute it you need to perform some other processes too. Don't begin to worry just yet, those processes are part of the Project Management Framework and are part of the PMP Syllabus. This effectively means that, we will be covering them one by one in the subsequent chapters.


Prev: Big Picture of Project Execution

Next: Performing Quality Assurance

2 comments:

  1. nice post, thank. one question: you say that as a result of implementing approved change requests we might need to update PM plan. Shouldn't that be done in the Integrated Change Control process which is the process that actually approves the change requests? Else why is PM plan updates specified as an output to the Integrated Change Control process in PMBOK?
    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @ Anonymous

    As you might have read in the PMBOK, the processes overlap with one another. The Perform Integrated Change Control & Direct & Manage project work overlap with one another. The Direct & Manage process creates change requests and the perform integrated change control process approves it. Once approved, the PM and his team will plan and implement the change request which will result in updates to the PM Plan.

    Remember - the process interact with one another and in almost all processes in the monitor & control phase will result in updates to the PM Plan.

    Hope that clarifies

    ReplyDelete

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