Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Outputs of Project Activity Definition

Taking the time to clearly define project activities reduces the chance for costly project delays. The process of defining project activities results in new or revised project documents or documentable items. These are the outputs of the activity definition phase of the project.

In any given project, there are three main outputs of activity definition: the activity list; supporting detail and WBS updates.
  • the activity list
    The first and most obvious output of activity definition is the activity list. The activity list results from using the WBS to decompose the project into a series of activities to be performed. To ensure completeness and adherence to project scope, the activity list should be developed and organized as an extension of the Work Breakdown Schedule (WBS).
  • supporting detail
    The second output of activity definition is supporting detail. Once an activity is defined, the next step is to clarify how it should be performed. To do this, you need to take into account project assumptions and constraints.

    Consider the example of Telecom Corporation's VPN project. The development of a new corporate web site is going on at the same time as the VPN project. The assumption that the web site development project uses standard technologies compatible with the VPN project must be documented in the supporting detail.

    The constraints imposed by the existing client infrastructure affect project activities and must be included in the supporting detail.
  • Work Breakdown Schedule (WBS) updates
    The third and final output of project activity definition are WBS updates. The WBS helps identify which activities to include in a project. If a missing deliverable is identified during the activity definition process, you must update the WBS to include that deliverable. You should also update the scope statement since it is a related document that includes a list of the project deliverables. Any changes in the deliverables must be reflected in the WBS and related documentation.
The outputs from activity definition include the activity list, supporting detail, and WBS updates. These outputs serve as important inputs to the next task required of a project management team—activity sequencing.

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