Thursday, October 05, 2006
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Adults and the return to education
It has become increasingly popular that in our global society adults are surging back to education whether in Universities, TAFE, private enterprises or in house work places the trend is up and running. It seems the thirst for knowledge has grabbed the population around the world. In
Is it that adult education has become more accessible to us, or that companies are encouraging personal development from their staff, or competition for work has many adults realizing they need to have the piece of paper with the qualifications to become competitive in the market place?
When you speak to your friends, colleagues and neighbours you will find someone you know has also taken the title of ‘student’ amongst the others they already have and are juggling their work, home, study and family commitments to become further educated. I am sure candle shops everywhere are selling out to allow those people to burn the oil to complete their assignments whilst running their already hectic lives.
Some things we do know about adult learning
There are many scenarios we can let run chaotically through our minds on why adults have returned to education but there are some things that we do know about adult learning;
- Some adults seek out learning to cope with life change events, such as a new job, marriage break ups, promotion, firing or moving to new cities.
- It seems the more life changing events an adult goes through then the more likely they will seek out new learning experiences.
- Maintaining ones self esteem and pleasure are strong motivators to undertake the learning journey
- Most adults that undertake learning do so 80 -90% of the time because they have a use for the knowledge or skill they are looking for.
- Courses need to be designed to accept viewpoints from people in different life stages with different value sets.
- Adults tend to take errors personally and this in turn leads to it affecting self- esteem.
Source: 30 things we know for sure about adult learning by Ron and Susan Zemke
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
The work breakdown structure (WBS) defines the total scope of the project, work not in the WBS is outside the scope of the project. The WBS should be developed in a project planning workshop and is often used to develop a common understanding of the scope of the project. It’s graphical nature, and ability to be created via post-it notes on a flip chart allows the structure to be easily developed in a group environment.
- Each Level in the WBS represents an increasingly detailed description of the project. Each block in the WBS is assigned a unique number to identify it
- The WBS should be explicit and easily understood
- Take the output from the WBS and dump it into the designated scheduling tool.
Tips for developing a work breakdown structure (WBS)
Step 1: Identify tasks in the planning workshop
Step 2: Create task list
Step 3: Assign resources
Step 4: Estimate effort
Step 5: Work into graphical representation
Once you have created a resource pool file you can link it to other project files, and each project file that uses resources from the resource pool is called a sharing file. When you share resources, the resource pool overwrites resource information in the sharing files by default if there any conflicting information.
What are the benefits of this functionality? Creating one resource pool allows you to create a master file that amalgamates the portfolio of projects into one file so you can report on resources, project timelines, costs and many other functions depending on what information you are trying to track over the reporting period .
The establishment of the resource pool and the creation of your project plans are important and involve the correct information technology set up including the version of MS Project ™ you are running on computers.
To learn more about this method and how you can manipulate tables, reports and views and more can be found in the mbh training one day MS Project ™ courses.
Why? Some people will have the thought process of it should take me 2 days at 100 % of my time to write, however there is other work I have to do, so they add another day, plus an extra one to allow for other work ! By the time they give you there estimation a 2 day task turns into a 5 day one! Add the number of tasks up in your plan and think about how much extra time has been added and whether or not you really have a true indication of how long the project will take.
Now if we think about the actual work getting completed many people will look at the schedule and due dates and think they have enough time up their sleeve and delay starting the task until the last minute! Well this is student syndrome working at its best, but if the estimations are incorrect - be prepared to go off to your Sponsors and explain why your project is behind time.
So how do we reduce the impacts of this , we can apply several methods to assist us with estimation such as past experiences , Theory of Constraint or Monte Carlo Analysis , the list is endless. However one of the most effective ways is to ensure your project team are cohesive and explain the value of estimation to them, allow people to think about durations on tasks and the importance of those estimates when producing your project plans.
The debate is always around how many tasks and what level of detail should we include in our project plans, therefore setting up a plan that is mangable and applying some human processes around updating and tracking our plan is the key. The aim is not to spend too much time on administration of our project plans yet be able to see the impacts at a high level if we make changes to tasks and dates as the project progresses.
Some points that can help you to set up and get going.
- Ensure that you create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in your planning workshop to scope your project.
- Apply durations to those tasks and keep the relationships as a Finsih to Start to provide you with an effective critcial path.
- Depending on the project and your management style think about how detailed your tasks need to be. Try breaking the tasks up into a minimum of 5 days in durations, if you have several 1 day tasks wrap them up under one.
- When you reach a critical phase of the project then you can break your tasks down into more detail for that period of time.
- Create the dependencies in your network diagram to ensure an accurate critical path is established, don't forget this process highlights the float of tasks and creates a the time line for your project enabling you to focus on what needs to be completed to meet your deadlines.
- Take the output and dump into MS Project or your scheduling tool
- Add those resources and durations
- Baseline the project plan
- Gather progress on a regular basis and ensure you update the plan.
- Enter actuals into the plan and change dates if applicable.
- Reschedule any tasks that have not started or are in progress at the status date to give you an up to date schedule.
- Don't get yourself bogged down in administration so you can get on with managing the project.
Remember as a project manager you are responsible for delivery of the project to time, cost, scope and benefits to name a few. Managing the plan will assist you with updating stakeholders to meet their expectations and scheduling of resources you will need. Therefore ensure you are comfortable with the scheduling tool you are using, and as project land constantly changes understand the impacts of these changes in the project plans.
What methods do you find are effective for you?