Workflow in PMPlan
The PMPlan, Project-Plan “Workflow”:
In the example below, see how the PMPlan Workflow may help the user in the development of a Proposed Project Plan that meets the goals and objectives of a potential customer, as found in the Statement of Work of that customers request for proposal.
Open PMPlan and in the Information Tab, enter the Proposed Project Title, the estimated start date and other pertinent proposal/project information that’s then available;
Create the Project Work Breakdown Structure (WBS):
- Select the Work Plan Tab to construct the WBS Tree, and in the Objective/Scope and Notes panels, the user can, and should, enter, or cut and paste from an electronic copy of the Statement of Work, the objectives/scope of work of each element of the project, and note the assumptions and justifications of each element as the user develops the WBS.
- In developing the WBS, the user needs to consider the customers reporting requirements, the expected actual cost tracking, and having a work activity for each deliverable (Documentation and Products).
- If at all possible, activities should be able to proceed without interactive dependency on other activities (For example the design of item #2 that requires information from item #1 should not start until the required information from item #1 is completed).
Deliverables and Milestones:
- In the Deliverables Tab, select those items of the statement of work, as outlined in the WBS Tree that are considered deliverables. This will develop an independent tracking schedule of the deliverable requirements.
- Milestones are critical events, and not Activities for planning costs. Therefore, Milestones are scheduled events that depict major project objectives such as IDR, PDR, etc, and are linked logically to WBS elements. In PMPlan, Milestones are not a function of the WBS, and should be scheduled outside of the Gantt Schedule in a highly visible area described as the Milestone area.
- In PMPlan, there are three distinct types of Milestones; Major Milestones, Intermediate Milestones and Earned Value Milestones. It’s important to remember, especially in PMPlan, that Activities are the lowest level of each branch of the WBS tree.
- Activities define the work effort and costs that are required to meet the activities specific objectives or goals, and are not Milestones.
- “Milestones are major or critical events“, and should be scheduled separate of the Activities.
- “Milestones separately set the time lines” for the objectives or goals of the Activity(s) and are not priced to perform an Activities workload. The cost of a milestone may not necessarily be the cost of any one Activity, but may be the resulting cost of a chain of Activities required to meet a particular objective or goal.
- Intermediate Milestones may be linked to activities as a measurement of progress, and may be scheduled adjacent to the Activities.
- Earned Value Milestones may be set up as a performance tracking method.
Precedence Diagramming Method:
- PMPlan uses a precedence diagramming technique Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM) as the methodology for more accurate project control over the relationships between the Activities and the Schedule. A resultant of this is the identification of Lead and Lag times, and the definition of the Critical Path of the project schedule. This technique supports the linkage of Activities to other Activities and to Milestones.
- Develop the sequence that the activities should be completed in the PDM (Network Logic with Critical Path).
- In the Logic Tab, or in the Gantt Schedule Tab, develop the logic from the start of the project plan, or backward from the last element (If starting with last, still link predecessor to successor).
- Minimize overlapping (parallel) paths of different elements (If there are parallel paths, a different team of resources should be used. Otherwise, consider resource dependencies in addition to activity dependencies).
- It is strongly recommended that Finish-to-Start (FS) linkages should only be used.
- In developing the sequence do not be concerned about the duration of the activities at this time.
- Do not forget to link the WBS elements with the Major Milestones. If the customer specifies that the Major Milestones must occur at a specific time after the start of the project, the user should put in a starting milestone and use a FS link with lag to get each Milestone to occur as required.
Integrated Master Scheduling:
The Integrated Master Scheduler (IMS) format reflects the time phasing performance of all line items of the WBS. In PMPlan, the WBS elements and milestones of the project are linked by the PDM and the critical path of the project to the IMS. While various types and methods of scheduling and planning techniques may exist, the IMS, as developed by PMPlan, primarily sets forth the contractual schedule requirements and establishes the basic time parameters for the Project Organization at the lowest, Activity level of each WBS element. The IMS reflects all contractual schedule requirements and can be graphically adjusted with resources loaded reflecting the days of the month, weeks of the month, or months of the year.
Develop and Review the IMS in the Gantt Schedule Tab.
- Does the schedule meet with the client’s request?
- If not, the user needs to consider if different or more resources can reduce the durations of the activities. The use of more resources may allow some activities to be done in parallel.
- If resource constraints prevent the user from meeting the customers’ expectations, the user may need to negotiate alternatives with the customer.
Project resources are composed of units of labor, materials, travel, use of equipment and any other “cost items” necessary to meet performance requirements, and can be loaded daily, weekly or monthly. In PMPlan, these items are properly identified and unit priced with appropriate rates, overhead and inflation factors, calculated and input manually or down loaded from a corporate database. Labor resources may also be categorized into rate tables with the rates based on the weighted average of the resources identified and used in each labor category. Individual resource files may be constructed and saved for merging into new or other project resource listings.
The Resource Pool.
- The primary difference between PMPlan stand-alone products and PMPlan Enterprise is the Resource Pool. Either resource pool may be constructed using staff, labor categories or both.
- The resource pools in the stand-alone products; need to be developed with staff, rates and a burden factor in the Resources Tab for each new project. This can also be accomplished by attaching a resource pool template from previously developed resource pool(s) and stored on the same computer as the project data file, or accessed by disk or through the intranet.
- The Enterprise Resource Pool; resides in the common database on the server where PMPlan Enterprise develops and stores the project(s) data file(s). PMPlan Enterprise automatically attaches the common resource pool, shown in the Resources Tab, to each project(s) data file, for the selection of Resources. The resource pool, including staff with rate structures and burden tables, are developed and managed through a separate restricted access administrative application, anDBManager.
- In addition to the estimated cost of preferred resources, the user, before selecting a project resource, should assess the availability of the resource(s) on the Resources Tab for a more realistic forecast of schedule issues. (i.e. unless the resource will be assigned full time to the project, it should be less than 100%). Assigning realistic availability will give a better idea of schedule.
Budgeting and Basis of Estimate
PMPlan deals with the development of project workforce and budgets at the lowest level of each WBS element (the Activity), and provides for the interactive development of workforce scheduling and materials planning for the development of the program budget. While loading project staffing or workforce and materials requirements is generally a straight forward process when using PMPlan. Other Direct Costs (ODC’s) i.e. travel, use of equipment planning and indirect costs may require better definition and cost justification (Basis of Estimate) and some method of accountability during contract performance. Material and/or ODC cost estimates can be extracted from PMPlan’s list of materials or other listings (notes), using vendor price quotes or best engineering estimates based on previous purchasing history of the same or like ODC’s.
In PMPlan, there are multiple means of loading resources into activities to Develop a Cost and Schedule Estimate:
- To spread labor hours using Spread Rules for developing a quick, initial Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM), in the Work Plan, Gantt Schedule and Total Effort Tabs:
- “Right Click” the activity to select the Task Properties dialog,
- Select the labor spread “Rules Tab“, select Resource Driven by activity for the activities duration, and select the type of spreading to use.
- Spread “Rules” to determine the Spread Type
- The following are the choices of spread available in PMPlan; Flat, Back-Loaded, Front-Loaded, Peak, Double-Peak, Plateau, and Custom, or “Manual”.
- Select the “BOE Tab” to enter the total labor hours desired per resource to be spread by the Rule selected for each activity (As the user enters each resource effort, PMPlan will calculate the duration of the activity based on the loading “Spread Rule“, and the availabilityof each resource assigned to that activity (Labor only).
- When the initial estimate is complete, turn off the Resource Driven settings, whether it be global, or by activity.
Load Resources by Activity in the Activity Effort Tab to develop an Estimate, or to Fine Tune the ROM Estimate:
- Enter the total labor hours desired per resource for the activity selected into the Planned Loading pane, and spread the resource over the schedule of the activity using the loading “Spread Rule”, or manually spread the resource over the schedule of the activity, which will override the spread rule. Later, when executing the project, a comparison can be made between the current Planned Loading panel and the Baseline loading panel and the Actual Loading, or all three panels in this view.
Load Resources by Resource in the Resource Effort Tab to develop an Estimate, or to Fine Tune the ROM Estimate;
- Manually enter, and spread the desired labor hours per resource over the schedule of each activity for the selected resource.
Review the Budget (Costs) of each activity.
- Is the project total cost competitive?
- Are the cost ratios and the Basis of Estimate(BOE) of each major task reasonable and supported by past projects. For example, is the cost ratio of the project management task similar to other similar type of projects or is the cost ratio of detail design to preliminary design similar to historical data?
- Is the assigned skill level appropriate?
Submit the project plan resource usage reports, if required; to the companies finance group for alternative pricing.
Adjust the project plan costs; to match the alternative pricing.
Generate the review documentation; of the project plan WBS, Schedule, BOE, and other graphics or supporting documentation needed for internal review.
Make adjustments to the project plan; as required from the internal review.
Generate the Proposal Documentation; of the project plan WBS, Schedule, and other graphics or other supporting documents needed for the proposal to the customer.
- The project plan may be printed as hardcopy or copied and pasted into the finished proposal document.
Submit the finished Proposal to the customer.