Sif E. Elharti's Blog

Even small acts can have a great impact…

Project Management: Part 3 – Basic concepts Project / Phase

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Large projects may be divided in smaller and more manageable subprojects or phases. This holds to reach a large result through a set of complementary, sequential and/or parallel steps. Each phase (a step) is managed as proper project.

Let’s suppose that I bought an old house (a really old one that needs immediate renovation). Knowing, there is no chance that some angels for “The extreme makeover: Home edition” will do that for me within 7*24 hours, I decided to handle it by myself and at my own speed.

Basically and roughly, we can say that we need three phases:

• Phase 1: Demolition

• Phase 2: Building

• Phase 3: furnishing

At first sight, we can say that those three steps must be done in sequence in the same order they are presented. In fact, it seems logical to execute building tasks after demolition ones but before furnishing tasks.

Nevertheless, there may exist a way to start one phase before the end of its preceding one. This is called overlapping – we will see that again in further posts-.

To carry out this, it requires the observation of two conditions for the task to be started:

• All the tasks that the task is depending on are executed.

• All the remaining tasks from the previous phase are independent form the task.

We will note also that, any task that will be done later will not affect the task by any way.

To tie it to our example –and keep it simple-, let’s suppose that the demolition phase has 3 tasks:

• T1.1 – Demolish the bathroom.

• T1.2 – Remove the old kitchen.

• T1.3 – Demolish a wall in the kitchen side.

And the building phase has 2 tasks:

 • T2.1 – Install a new bath and a new shower.

• T2.1 – Install a new kitchen.

Note: the task identification used here will be detailed in the WBS (Work Beakdown Structure) later.

So, since installing the new bath and shower (T2.1) depends only on the demolition of the bathroom (T1.1), the former one can be started immediately after the later is done. But we have to make sure the remaining tasks have no effect on task  (T2.1).

Let’s end with the following definition of a phase from the PMBOK Guide (4th Ed.):

Project phase is a collection of logically related project activities, usually culmination in the completion of a major deliverable. But not that a project phase is not a Project Management Process Group.

See you later.

Sif Elharti,


Written by selharti

February 7, 2010 at 2:06 am

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