Thursday, December 20, 2007

Project Activity Sequencing Outputs

Project activity sequencing consists of the methods and tools used to set the stage for the most efficient and trouble-free project plan. Project activity sequencing has several outputs, including the project network diagram and activity lists.

The project network diagram
One output that results from activity sequencing is the project network diagram. This diagram may be produced manually or on a computer.

The project network diagram includes full project details, including clear, concise, self-explanatory names for all project activities.

Full project details include "hammock activities" as well. For example, an auto parts manufacturer inspects all the parts it produces. Rather than repeat the inspect activity in the project network diagram, the manufacturing company rolls all inspection into a single summary or hammock activity.

Overall start and finish dates are then associated with the single hammock activity. One or more summary or hammock activities often make up part of full project details.

The project network diagram includes a summary narrative. The summary narrative outlines the basic activity sequencing approach used in the network. The summary narrative provides details about the use of dependencies, sequencing assumptions and leads and lags.

The summary narrative outlines how dependencies are included in the project, how outside dependencies will be handled, and which dependencies are mandatory or optional.

The summary narrative also includes assumptions about sequencing. It may be assumed, for example, that testing can start after 25 percent of development has taken place.

In addition to assumption, the summary narrative outlines how leads and lags will be handled. In a finish-to-start relationship, an activity with a lead of five days may start five days before its predecessor has finished. An activity with a lag of five days cannot start until five days after its predecessor activity has finished.

Finally, the project network diagram contains a description of unusual sequencing. Unusual sequences occur in a network to allow for things like client preferences or specific resource availability. For example, in setting up a computer network, it may seem logical to configure the servers before configuring the workstations. The customer, however, may stipulate that employees are to begin training and work on their workstations immediately. As a result, the configure workstations activity takes place in the project network diagram before the configure servers activity.

Activity list updates
The second output from activity sequencing is activity list updates. Network diagram preparation may reveal instances where an activity must be divided or redefined in order to diagram the correct relationships.

As an example, consider the initial activity list for installing a computer network. Attempts to construct a network for this project reveal that there is overlap between the build and test activities. Computer tower components must be tested at intermediary intervals.

If the build and test activities have been defined at too high a level, the sequencing diagram may not show this overlap. The solution is to break the build and test activities down into their component parts, and indicate their dependencies on other activities. Based on this, a new project network diagram can be constructed.

The outputs from activity sequencing are the project network diagram and the activity list. These two outputs are important components in the creation of the project schedule. The project network diagram reflects project activities and their dependencies. After initially diagramming the network, the activity list may remain the same or change based on the diagram.

No comments: