## Three Point Estimates – Video

Three point estimates are a best practice in project management because they produce accurate estimates and stronger team member commitment. They also provide us with risk data on the probability of more or less work, and duration, on tasks than we had planned. See a PM do three point  estimating the right way in the video.

The improved estimating accuracy in three point estimates comes from the fact that we are considering the risk inherent in any task. We identify with the team member the risk factors that can make a task take more or less time than the best guess estimate. Then we give the team member the opportunity to estimate the work load if adverse risks occur. We also ask the team member to estimate the work if positive risks occur that affect the task. From those three estimates; best guess, worst case (pessimistic) and best case (optimistic), we can calculate the probability of various task durations. That allows us to talk with the project sponsor about the level of certainty the sponsor wants on the project duration.

How To Do 3-point Estimates With Your Team

## Example of Three Point Estimates

As an example, we might discuss a task that has a best guess estimate of three weeks duration. The probability of completing the task within that best guess estimate is 50%. We can also offer the sponsor probabilities of 60, 70 and 80% certainty. As always, there is a cost to increasing our certainty and that often comes in the form of increased labor costs. Having this data allows us to give the project sponsor the opportunity to pay for more certainty.

The improved team member commitment in three point estimates comes from the fact that we engage our team members in estimating the work and duration of their tasks. When team members are given the opportunity to participate in the estimating process, the final estimates they have more confidence in the numbers. That is in sharp contrast to the PM simply telling the team when they must be done . Having this discussion with the team about the risks on the task also gives us another big benefit. If we identify the risks that could cause the task to take longer than the best guess estimates, we try to mitigate those risks very early in the project lifecycle. Early risk identification and mitigation is always preferable to firefighting when we’re halfway through the task.

As you watch the video on Three Point Estimates, observe how the project manager teaches her team to come up with the three estimates. Then you’ll see the project manager use the estimates with the project sponsor to give him choices and also fend off arbitrary cuts to the project’s duration.  Finally you will watch private interviews with the team members so you can see their reaction to the three-point estimating process.

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## Change Control Video – The Wrong Way & The Right Way

Change control is a constant challenge for project managers. They have to deal with stakeholders who want to submit scope changes. This occurs daily on some projects.  Project Change Control Main Page

### Change Control – The Wrong Way

The project manager in this video faces two aggressive stakeholders who want to make significant additions to the scope of the project. In the first version of the video, the project manager uses a very typical approach to change control. That is, he tries to resist all the changes the stakeholders propose. The stakeholders get angry and criticize the project manager’s original plan because it missed these critical items. The project manager continues to fight the changes so the stakeholders go over his head to senior management.  Senior management then orders the project manager to make the changes without giving him additional budget or time to make the additions. This often happens to project managers who try to resist all changes to the project. The project is then late and over budget due to a lack of funds or time to cover the changes. However, that excuse is usually not accepted and the project manager takes the blame for the project’s failure.

### Change Control – The Right Way

The second version of the video replays the same situation where the stakeholders make demands for changes to the project.  But this time the project manager is very accommodating. He presents them with several options for accommodating the impact of their changes on the project’s cost and duration. He also presents trade-offs between reducing the overall project scope and making the changes the stakeholders want. The project manager continues to offer ways to accommodate the changes; all of which keep the project’s feasibility in tact.  You will see how to present trade-offs the correct way to deal with change control.

Project Scope Changes

To learn how to manage change control and design trade-offs, consider our online project management courses. You work privately with an expert project manager as your instructor and coach. You begin when you wish and work according to your schedule and pace. you have as many phone calls and live video conferences with your instructor as you wish.  Take a look at the courses in your specialty.

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## Team Member Personality Types – Video

The differences in team member personality types provide a constant challenge to project managers trying to build cohesive teams. What happens most often, is that the project manager assumes that everyone else including the entire team is just like him. That is, they assume that everybody else likes to receive information the way they do. They may like to receive new information in chronological order. Or, they may prefer receiving information is a summary and then ask questions and get the detail if they wish. Still others want all of the detail right up front.

They also assume that everyone else makes decisions just like they do. Some people like to be presented with detailed information and listen to it and then think about it for a while and then make a decision. They don’t like to be rushed and they will not be comfortable with summaries. That is very common. In fact it is the most common decision-making style. But if you are a person who likes to make the decisions based only on the big picture and you try and force your team members to make decisions the way you do you will never build a cohesive team.
There are many other differences between people which affect the best way to work with them. Project managers need to be very savvy in this regard because they very often don’t have a great deal of formal authority over the people they’re working with.
The ability to read your team members and communicate with them in the way they prefer is one of the major differences between consistently successful project managers and those who are not.

Watch this video of a project manager dealing with a strongly introverted project team member. In the first part of the movie, the project manager makes many mistakes and alienates the team member. In the second part of the video, the project manager applies “best practices” techniques for this personality type and builds a stronger relationship with the team member. The key point to notice is the behavior of the team member which in the first movie the project manager ignores and in the second movie the project manager pays very careful attention to the behavior and reaction of the team member Leading Teams Main Page

Assessing a New Team Member's Personality Type

After watching the video, you should at the very least learn to pay attention to the people you are talking to rather than ignoring them. You should observe how they react as you say different things. Observe if things you say or do make them upset or angry. A good project manager instantly reacts to that and inquires of the team member, “What is wrong?” Or “I’m sorry that I said something that’s causing you concern.” Comments like that give you a chance to correct problems during your session with the team member. Ignoring them makes your errors have a long term impact on the relationship you have with the team member.

## Cut Project Duration – Video

Project managers often receive demands to cut the project duration. Sometimes these demands come weekly or even daily. There’s a right way and a wrong way to handle requests to cut the project duration. If you handle it incorrectly, the stakeholder will go over your head to the sponsor or a senior manager. Those superiors will arbitrarily change the project duration without giving you additional resources to help you finish the work faster.

### Cut Project Duration: The Wrong Way

You’ll see how this happens in the first part of the video where the project manager handles the request poorly. That error leads to what truly will be a Project from Hell.  Project Schedule & Software Main Page

### Project Due Date - Finish EarlierCut Project Duration: The Right Way

In the second half of the video, you’ll see how the project manager properly handle requests to cut the duration. He doesn’t flatly refused to change the duration. Instead, he gives the stakeholders choices and options for finishing earlier. Each one is feasible and leaves the project manager with a plan that is achievable. Modeling those choices requires the right kind of project schedule and a thorough understanding of techniques like critical path, fast tracking and crashing the project plan. These tools are available in project management software. You enter the data to model options and tell the stakeholders what it will cost to finish one week earlier, two weeks earlier, etc.

You should present each option as a trade-off like, “I can finish two weeks earlier if I have one more engineer for three weeks.” Notice the trade-off has two sides; the positive side of finishing earlier and the negative side of needing more people. Skilled project managers present a number of options for cutting the duration. And they go out of their way to try to accommodate the stakeholder’s requests. However, every option has a trade-off. Here are some examples:
– spending more money to finish early
– adding more people to finish early
– lowering the project scope to finish early.
You give the stakeholders several choices; each of which preserves the feasibility of the project. That’s the key to correctly handling duration reduction requests. You don’t resist changes or try to argue against making them. On the contrary, you’re willing and eager to discuss possible options for finishing early. But each of the options you present has a trade-off that you modeled in the project management software.

You learn all of those skills and how to use project management software to identify ways to cut the duration in our project management basics courses. Take a look at the course in your industry specialty.

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## PERT-Three Point Estimates Presentation

The project manager in this video is preparing and presenting her PERT-Three Point Estimates to the sponsor and stakeholders. She is facing a tough stakeholder audience who are looking to challenge her data and her estimating methodology so that they can slash the duration she has planned as well as her budget. See how she handles their objections and criticisms as they challenge her numbers.  Three-point estimating has some very powerful advantages over other ways of estimating, although it does take a bit longer. Watch how the project manager explains those advantages to the executives and turns them into supporters of the three point estimating process.

As you’ll see, the key to her PERT-Three Point Estimates presentation is not only the accuracy of the numbers at her ability to explain where that came from but also the clarity.  She has dated the show the numbers tumblers who are her biggest critics but also Data for people who don’t understand the three point estimating technique. She need to communicate clearly to both of those audiences. You judge how she did.

See if you can identify the strengths and weaknesses of the presentation and how well the project manager makes her case for using the three point estimates. Is it clear how the three point estimating technique gives you good data about the likelihood of the risks the work assignments face? Do you see the mathematical accuracy of using three point estimates rather than just one? Finally, do you understand what three point estimating does to the level of team member commitment? Participating in the estimating process increases commitment to the resulting due dates and work estimates. We hope the video and narration by Dick Billows, PMP, help you understand how and why successful project managers use three point estimating.

How To Present 3-point Estimates

## Project Team Conflict – Video

Every project team has conflict and project managers need to use a number of conflict resolution techniques. The same technique does not work in all project team conflict situations. You need to carefully analyze the people who are involved in the conflict and the issues over which they are having their dispute. Then you can select the proper conflict resolution techniques. There is one simple rule for measuring the resolution success: the project team conflict is successfully resolved when work can proceed on the project without interruption. That means you don’t need to try and make everyone become “best friends.” That’s not realistic. The team members just need to be able to work with each other effectively to complete the project. Project Management Skills Main Page

### Project Team Conflict Video

Project Team Conflict

In this lecture video, we’ll watch a project team conflict situation. The project manager uses typical conflict resolution techniques but they make the conflict worse. I’ll point out what the project manager did wrong. Then we’ll look at the right way to handle these conflict situations with a focus on deliverables, not on personalities. We’ll watch the same situation where the project manager uses good techniques and gets everybody back to work on their deliverables. In the good version of this story, the project manager uses techniques to remove personalities from the situation and focus on deliverables, due dates and costs. The project manager does not attempt to make everybody on the team friends. Instead they focus on getting the team members to produce their deliverables to get  the project done.

You learn all of those skills in our project management courses. Take a look at the courses in your specialty.

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## WBS – Healthcare Projects

A key part of a good healthcare project plan is the work breakdown structure (WBS). The WBS for Healthcare Projects specifies the work assignment for every person working on the project.  It also specifies the deliverables the customer or sponsor will get. And it provides checkpoints for the organization’s management to track the project’s performance.

## WBS – Healthcare Projects: Step One

Creating a good WBS – Healthcare Projects starts with defining the scope and major deliverables of the project with administrators, physicians and other caregivers.  Then you decompose or breakdown each of those deliverables into smaller deliverables until you get to the level of an individual assignment. When you break down the project scope into deliverables, you specify the end result you want from each assignment. That is not a list of what you want the assigned team member to do. As an example, you would not describe everything an ICU nurse on your team must do to create a new procedure. Instead, you would state that the ICU nurse must deliver a set of procedures that pass inspection by the state Department of Health. That is a measurable deliverable with an acceptance criteria that is crystal clear. When you define every assignment in the healthcare project WBS as a measurable deliverable, you clearly define the work assignments for every caregiver, technician, administrator and any outside consultants working on the project. The assignments or tasks in your WBS define exactly what a good job is for each assignment and how you will measure it.  WBS – Work Breakdown Structure – Main Page

WBS Work Breakdown Structure

## WBS – Healthcare Projects: Step Two

The WBS also shows the methodology you will use on the project to produce the required deliverables. The WBS of a project that uses a waterfall methodology will be very different from a project that uses a design-build methodology. In the waterfall methodology project, you will complete very detailed front end planning before the team starts work. On a project that uses a design-build methodology, the team will begin work on the deliverables before all the plans are finished. If you use an agile methodology for the project, you will complete the deliverables iteratively with a great deal of interaction with the caregivers and administrators at every step. The WBS will include time for them to assess the results and change the specifications. That project’s WBS will look very different from a WBS using one of the other methodologies.

## WBS – Healthcare Projects: Step Three

The healthcare project WBS must specify the testing and quality control procedures you will utilize at various checkpoints in the project. Some of the checkpoints may be the testing of equipment against manufacturer or regulator specifications. Other checkpoints may be a governmental comparison of what you have developed to the approved regulations and requirements.

## WBS – Healthcare Projects: Step Four

If you know who will be working on your project, it is a good practice to give the team members an opportunity to talk about the acceptance criteria for the deliverables they will be producing. Allowing team members to take part in defining the healthcare project WBS entries and their acceptance criteria gives you two benefits. First, it sets up the estimating process so your team members become familiar with the tasks they’ll be asked to estimate. Second, their participation also gives you the benefit of the team members’ experience with similar projects. That’s an opportunity for you and the team to identify problems very early in the process.

## WBS – Healthcare Projects: Summary

The aim of the WBS is to

• give team members clear assignments that are deliverables
• communicate the methodology you’ll use to produce the deliverables
• specify the acceptance criteria for quality control and testing
• provide management with checkpoints for tracking progress.

This sample lecture from our Healthcare Project Basics course focuses on developing a healthcare project WBS. The goal of the WBS is to give crystal-clear assignments to people working on the project and give management clear checkpoints on progress. It also provides a good basis for you, the project manager, to track project progress and do variance analysis.

To learn more about designing a good WBS for healthcare projects, consider taking one of our online healthcare project management courses. You’ll learn at your pace with an expert healthcare project manager as your coach.

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## WBS – Business & Operations Projects – Video

A critical part of your project plan is the work breakdown structure (WBS). The WBS for Business & Operations Projects is a lot more than a long list of tasks. It comes from a definition of the project scope which is the business benefit that the project will deliver. The project scope is stated as a metric, an acceptance criteria, and so is every component of the work breakdown structure. Those components are the deliverables, everything that’s required to deliver the business benefit. The aim of the WBS is to give crystal-clear assignments to people working on projects and give management clear checkpoints on progress. Every successful business and operations project also includes process changes in their organization. The WBS has to include the training that will increase the capability of the users. Finally, the WBS is structured with the particular methodology that the project will employ (waterfall, agile, iterative).  Main WBS – Work Breakdown Structure – Page

WBS Work Breakdown Structure

## WBS – Business and Operations Projects: Step One

The WBS is a decomposition of the project scope. You start by breaking down the scope into 4 to 7 major deliverables. Then you break down each of those major deliverables into smaller deliverables. You continue the process all the way down to tasks you will assign to the team members. To do this decomposition, you must define every task in the work breakdown structure with acceptance criteria. Those are the specific measures the customer or user will apply when deciding whether to accept the deliverable. An example of an acceptance criteria in a project for improving efficiency might be, “Project team members can complete their weekly timesheet in less than two minutes 90% of the time.” That defines a specific end result that you, as the project manager, will use in specifying user requirements and measuring team member performance.

## WBS – Business and Operations Projects: Step Two

The WBS – Business & Operations Projects will show the methodology you will use on the project to produce the required deliverables. If you and the project sponsor have decided to use an agile methodology, the WBS will include multiple iterations in the creation of each deliverable. It would include time for the user to assess the result and change the specifications after each iteration. On the other hand, the classic waterfall project plan would include very detailed front end planning followed by execution of the plan.

## WBS – Business and Operations Projects: Step Three

The WBS needs to specify the acceptance criteria for quality control and testing. Some testing tasks should include the number of transactions or samples that you will test. That ensures adequate time is estimated for the complete testing procedure. That includes any external testing of the deliverables during development or prior to acceptance. They should appear in the work breakdown structure to ensure enough hours of work for adequate testing and quality control are included in the schedule.

## WBS – Business and Operations Projects: Step Four

Finally, if you know which team members will be doing the work on your project, it is a good practice to give them an opportunity to talk about the acceptance criteria for the deliverables they will be producing. Allowing team members to take part in defining the WBS entries and their acceptance criteria gives you two benefits. First, it sets up the estimating process so your team members become familiar with the tasks they’ll be asked to estimate. Second, their participation also gives you the benefit of the team members’ experience with similar projects. That’s an opportunity for you and the team members to identify problems very early in the process.

## WBS – Business and Operations Projects: Summary

The aim of the WBS is to

• give team members clear assignments that are deliverables
• communicate the project methodology you’ll use to produce the deliverables
• specify the acceptance criteria for quality control and testing
• provide management with checkpoints on progress.

This sample lecture is from our online Project Management Basics course. It focuses on creating the work breakdown structure for small business projects. The focus is on creating a project plan and work breakdown structure that are tools for making clear, measurable assignments and tracking the team’s progress on those deliverables.

To learn more about designing a good WBS for Business & Operations projects, consider taking one of our online project management courses. You’ll learn at your pace with an expert project manager as your coach.

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## WBS – Construction Projects – Video

A key part of a good construction project plan is the work breakdown structure (WBS). The WBS – Construction Projects specifies the work assignment for every crew member, subcontractor, architect, and outside consulting engineer working on the project.  It also specifies the deliverables the customer will get. That definition is in the form of an objective measure like, “maintain 72° degrees temperature during operating hours.”

## WBS – Construction Projects: Step One

You begin by defining the scope and major deliverables of the project. Then you breakdown each of those deliverables into smaller deliverables until you get to the level of an individual assignment to a crew member or subcontractor. As you work through this breakdown process, you are specifying the end result you want from each assignment, not what you want them to do.

WBS Work Breakdown Structure

As an example, you wouldn’t describe everything that a framing contractor is supposed to do. Instead, the WBS would specify that the subcontractor is to frame the project according to plan and pass the local municipality’s rough framing inspection. The acceptance criteria of that deliverable is crystal-clear. With every assignment in the construction project WBS specified as a deliverable, you have clearly defined the work assignment for everyone working on the project. The assignments or tasks in the WBS define exactly what a “good job” is for each of those work assignments and how it will be measured.   WBS Work Breakdown Structure Main Page

## WBS – Construction Projects: Step Two

Second, the work breakdown structure is also based on the construction methodology that will be used on the project. As an example, the WBS of a waterfall construction project will be very different from a project that uses a design-build methodology. In a waterfall methodology project, all the planning is completed before you start construction work. In a design-build methodology project, you begin construction work before all the plans are finished. And an agile methodology project will look very different from the first two types. Here you complete the components iteratively with a great deal of customer interaction and input at each step.

## WBS – Construction Projects: Step Three

Third, the construction project WBS has to specify the testing and quality control procedures and acceptance criteria you will use at various checkpoints in the project. Some of these checkpoints may be the testing of materials, other checkpoints may be the governmental comparison of what you have built to the approved plan.

## WBS – Construction Projects: Summary

The aim of the WBS is to

• give crews and subcontractors clear assignments that are deliverables
• communicate the construction methodology you’ll use to produce the deliverables
• specify the acceptance criteria for quality control and testing
• provide checkpoints on progress.

This sample construction project lecture is from our Construction Project Basics course. It covers how to develop the work breakdown structure (WBS) for smaller commercial and residential construction projects. The focus is on creating a project plan and work breakdown structure that are tools for making clear, measurable assignments and tracking the progress of crews and subcontractors on those deliverables. It also provides a good basis for you, the project manager, to track project progress and do variance analysis.

To learn more about designing a good WBS for construction projects, consider taking one of our online construction project management courses. You’ll learn at your pace with an expert construction project manager as your coach.

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## WBS – Information Technology Projects – Video

The work breakdown structure is the heart of a successful WBS – Information Technology project plan. The work breakdown structure (WBS) defines the deliverables in objectively measurable terms, like retrieve 6 months of customer history in 4 seconds. It fits the systems developmental methodology you will use in the project, like Agile, Waterfall, Iterative, etc.  It defines the users’ expectations about exactly what business result(s) they will get.  The WBS must cover the three components of successful implementation. It covers not only 1.)what the analysts and programmers will do but also 2.) the users’ process changes and 3.) the user training.

### WBS – Information Technology Projects: Step One

First, the WBS tells everyone what’s expected of them. You and the users start by breaking down the project scope into 4 to 7 major deliverables. Then you break down each of those major deliverables into smaller deliverables. You continue the process all the way down to tasks you will assign to the team members, information system staff and user staff. Yes, it includes assignments for the development staff and the users because both groups will complete tasks to deliver the project scope. To do this decomposition, you define every task in the work breakdown structure with acceptance criteria that is usually a metric. Those are the specific measures the user will apply when deciding whether to accept the deliverable. The WBS allows the sponsor and user management to track the progress of the project because every entry in the WBS is unambiguous; they are measurable.  WBS Work Breakdown Structure Main Page

WBS Work Breakdown Structure

### WBS – Information Technology Projects: Step Two

Second, on an IT project the WBS also communicates the systems development methodology you’ll use on the project to produce the required deliverables. If you and the project sponsor have decided to use an Agile methodology, the WBS will include multiple iterations of each deliverable. It will include time for the user to evaluate the result and change the specifications after each iteration. On the other hand, the classic Waterfall project development would include very detailed front end planning followed by execution of the plan. So an IT project WBS done with a Waterfall methodology is very different from a WBS for an Agile systems development effort or any of the other IT methodologies.

### WBS – Information Technology Projects: Step Three

Third, regardless of the methodology, a correctly developed WBS is not a list of activities or “to dos.” It is a list of acceptance criteria that define what a good job is on each of the WBS entries. As an example, if one or more programmers will write the code for a payroll data entry screen, you might define the acceptance criteria for that effort with a WBS entry like, “Payroll clerks can create new employee payroll records using the new GUI in less than three minutes 90% of the time.”  That tells both the programmers and the users involved what they’re going to get from this new GUI. When you define your WBS entries this way, you have the discussion and debate about the deliverable’s acceptance criteria before you even start work.

### WBS – Information Technology Projects: Step Four

Fourth, the WBS needs to specify the acceptance criteria for quality control and testing. Some testing tasks should include the number of transactions that you will test. That ensures that adequate time is estimated for the complete testing procedure. That includes any external testing of the software during its development or prior to acceptance.  The tasks should also appear in the WBS so enough hours of work are allocated to the process and the resulting schedule for adequate testing and quality control.

### WBS – Information Technology Projects: Step Five

Fifth, if you know which team members will be doing the work on your project, it is a good practice to give them an opportunity to talk about the acceptance criteria for the deliverables they will be producing. Allowing team members to take part in defining the WBS entries and their acceptance criteria gives you two benefits. First, it sets up the estimating process so your team members become familiar with the tasks they’ll be asked to estimate. Second, this participation also gives you, the project manager, the benefit of the team members’ experience with similar projects. That’s an opportunity for you to identify problems very early in the planning process.

### WBS – Information Technology Projects: Summary

The aim of the WBS is to

• give clear assignments to system analysts, programmers and users
• communicate the systems development methodology you’ll use to produce the deliverables
• state the acceptance criteria on each of the deliverables and provide checkpoints on progress
• specify the acceptance criteria for quality control and testing
• set up the estimating and early problem solving processes

This sample IT project lecture from our IT Project Basics course focuses on developing the work breakdown structure for IT systems development projects. The focus is on creating a project plan and work breakdown structure that are tools for making clear, measurable assignments and tracking the progress of the deliverables.

To learn more about designing a good WBS for IT projects, consider our project management courses. You learn with an expert project manager as your coach.

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