Dear PM Advisor. Nov 18, 2013

Dear PM Advisor, I've been working with the same team members on the last three similar projects and they gave me some disturbing feedback lately. They say that the level of detail I get down to in the Work Breakdown Structure is too much. They say it made sense a few years ago but they know how to do the work and don't need to be micro-managed. 

I told them that this was the process and we were successful before so we should stick with it. 

Any advice?

Pedantic in Atlanta

Dear Pedantic,

I love that you stick to a methodology that works but project management requires flexibility. If you have a deliverable that is fairly straightforward and highly experienced team members, you don't need to manage that deliverable as tightly as those more complex deliverables, especially if your team members are less experienced.

Remember that you don't have enough time to manage every activity. The Pareto principle states that 20% of the activities will cause 80% of the delays. Use the below rule of thumb to focus on those activities that are most likely to cause delays.

Here's a rule of thumb for breaking down deliverables into activities when you conduct your Work Breakdown Structure session:

  • Complex Deliverable/Low experienced team members: 11 - 15 activities
  • Medium Deliverable/Medium experienced team members: 6 - 10 activities
  • Simple Deliverable/Highly experienced team members: 3 - 5 activities

Good luck,

PM Advisor

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