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The 7 Habits of Proactive Microsoft PPM Users: Habit 2

Sensei_book_imageBegin with the End in Mind

The most successful projects have a deliverable-focused work breakdown structure (WBS) to represent the true scope of the project. Build your schedules with the end in mind by establishing your outcomes/deliverables. This helps you manage scope throughout execution and ensures that the entire team is on the same page as to what the work is. Examples of deliverables could include Design Document, Test Plan, Production Installation, and Trained Staff. Notice how all of these are either a physical object (document) or an outcome. What they have in common is that we can:

Describe the end state when a deliverable is complete, and

Explain to a team member what it means to produce that deliverable.

A good test to see if you have true deliverables in your schedule is to put “The” in front and see if it works — The Design Document, The Production Installation, etc.

You can still have phases in your project schedule, but the most important portion of the WBS will always be the deliverables and their supporting work packages/activities/tasks.

Deliverable-focused Work Breakdown Structure

Deliverable-focused Work Breakdown Structure

The entire scope of your project should be represented within the deliverables in the WBS to be in compliance with industry standards (i.e. no detailed tasks should be present outside of the deliverable structure). It’s likely that the quality of your project will improve as well when using this method since there will be less ambiguity about the scope of the work.

This excerpt is from the new book, Proactive PPM with Microsoft Project 2016 for Project Online and Project Server: A best practices guide for project managers, written by Kenneth Steiness and Dale Howard and published by Sensei Project Solutions.

Read “Habit 1: Be Proactive” here.

Read “Habit 3: Put First Things First” here.

Read “Habit 4: Think Win-Win” here.

Read “Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood” here.

Read “Habit 6: Synergize” here.

Read “Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw” here.

Written by Kenneth Steiness

Kenneth-Steiness_avatar_1456165080-120x120Kenneth Steiness PMP/PMI-SP MCP MCT is an industry expert on Microsoft Project and Project Server and has worked in the project management and scheduling field for over 16 years. He has managed customer engagements in over 13 countries worldwide and throughout the United States, in addition to presenting at world-wide conferences for Microsoft, PMI, and to many Microsoft Project User Groups over the years. Kenneth is the Managing Partner & VP of Delivery of Sensei Project Solutions, a Microsoft Partner specializing in Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) deployments with Microsoft Project and Project Server on the SharePoint platform. Sensei offers a complete set of services to help an organization make their Microsoft PPM deployment successful, including full implementation and services, training as well as pre-configured solutions and report packs. Visit senseiprojectsolutions.com or contact info@senseiprojectsolutions.com for more information.

Written by Dale Howard

Dale Howard is the Director of Education for Sensei Project Solutions.  He is in his 15th year of serving as a Microsoft Project MVP (Most Valuable Professional) and is currently one of only 39 Microsoft Project MVPs in the entire world. Dale is the co-author of 21 books on Microsoft Project, Project Server, and Project Online. He works out of his home in Ellisville, Missouri (a west suburb of St. Louis).

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  1. You could also add a task for schedule contingency just before the milestone task.

  2. Dave — Thanks for your comment, but I do not understand what you mean. What does adding a task for schedule contingency have to do with “Begin with the End in Mind”? Please elaborate and I would be glad to follow up with you. Thanks! — eDale

  3. Dale – Beginning with the end in mind means anticipating what could happen along the way that will stop or interfere with progress, aka old fashioned risk planning. There is going to be schedule impact – it’s a given in life. A preventive measure is a nicely calculated schedule contingency. Otherwise, the schedule hits a snag (little or big) and immediately jumps right into red status without an escape hatch.

    You wouldn’t want to go on a long drive down a bumpy dirt road without shock absorbers, but proceeding without a defensible schedule contingency is doing exactly that – adding risk by not giving the project a way to absorb any kind of impact. Proactive planning with the intention of having an orderly and low drama project means realizing the inevitability of schedule changes and taking steps up front to cushion or eliminate the blow. I hope this helps.

  4. Sony — Thanks for your excellent thoughts about how risk management fits into the “begin with the end in mind” approach to project management. — eDale


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