Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Notes – Project Life Cycle and Organization (Chapter 2)

Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide 4th Edition
Chapter 2 – Project Life Cycle and Organization

Core Definitions

  • Project Life Cycle: A collection of generally sequential and sometimes overlapping project phases whose name and number are determined by the management and control needs of the organization or organizations involved in the project, the nature of the project itself, and its area of application. The project life cycle provides the basic framework for managing a project, regardless of the specific work involved.
  • Project Phases: Divisions within a project where extra control is needed to effectively manage the completion of a major deliverable. Project phases are typically completed sequentially, but can overlap in some situations.
  • Stakeholders: Persons or organizations (e.g. customers, sponsors, the performing organization, the public) who are actively involved in the project or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected by the performance or completion of the project. Stakeholders also may exert influence over the project, its deliverables, and the project team members.
  • Organizational Process Assets: These include any or all process related assets, from any or all of the organizations involved in the project that can be used to influence the project’s success. Organizational process assets can be categorized as either processes and procedures (e.g. SOPs, guidelines, templates) or corporate knowledge base (e.g. measurement databases, project files, lessons learned, configuration management databases, issue management databases, financial databases).


General Notes

  • (2.0) It is important to remember that projects and project management take place in an environment that is broader than that of the project itself.
  • (2.1) Every project has a definite start and a definite end.
  • (2.1.1) Generic life cycle structure: starting the project, organizing and preparing, carrying out the project work, closing the project.
  • (2.1.1) Stakeholder influence, risk, uncertainty, and ability to influence the final characteristics of any/all outputs are high while cost and staffing levels are low at the beginning of the project life cycle.
  • (2.1.2) Project life cycles occur in one or more phases of a product life cycle, and the two can be very much intertwined.
  • (2.1.3.2) The three basic types of phase-to-phase relationships are: sequential, overlapping, and iterative.
  • (2.2) Operations work supports the business environment where projects are executed. As a result, there is generally a significant amount of interaction between operations departments and a project team as they work together to achieve project goals.
  • (2.3) Common stakeholders include: customers/users, sponsors, portfolio managers, program managers, the project management office (PMO), project managers, project team, functional managers, operations management, and business partners.

The Origins of Opportunity

I’ve been deep into future studies / futurology over the past few weeks. It’s an intriguing field for me at both a professional/academic level and a personal level. How can we better understand the future? Are there core methodologies that we can employ to optimize our current positioning and decision-making? How can we be better prepared for the future? What’s inevitable and what’s not? Where lies the line between info-driven forecasting and innate intuition?

Although the netweb has helped to grow and organize both the futurological information and the community through which that information is developed and shared, it seems as though the field itself remains cloudy. I must hope that at some level I can build upon the existing thoughts of others and contribute new thoughts of my own so that at least the window to the future becomes more clear.

One cornerstone of future studies is in how to evaluate, filter though, and create opportunity from statements about the future. And so I wonder: from where does opportunity arise, and how can this recognition be leveraged to inform (and in some cases, influence) the future? In general, how can we characterize the origins of opportunity?

  1. Is it through early recognition? This is not beating others to the finish line, but rather beating others to the starting line. Can we identify gaps sooner than others?
  2. Is it through resourceful timing? Often opportunity arises in not being first, not being last, but somewhere in between. The earliest adopter may have his/her vision obscured through too many details, the latest adopter may be left with the crumbs. And often we find much opportunity in the failure of others – developing the right trials from the errors of others.
  3. Is it through pure knowledge and intelligence? Can brute force brainpower create the most opportunity? Or is it more dependent on the ability to apply one’s knowledge, no matter how limited it may be? Is it about having the right skill sets and tools, tactics and strategies?
  4. Is it though pure luck? Can being in the right place at the right time govern our ability to find and harness opportunity? Is pure luck within our beyond our control?

It’s simplest to think that opportunity may arise as a result of any combination of these factors. Therefore, to maximize our opportunities, we should focus on being in the right places, having the right tools, being with the right people, understanding timing as an approach, building the right knowledge base, and building an overall recognition for the many faces of opportunity.

If we can learn to recognize opportunity and better understand where it may arise, we can begin to gain a better picture of the future. Then, we can work to inform that picture with data and models to ensure that we take full advantage of those opportunities to better our self, our communities, our world, and that of tomorrow.

Technology And Intelligence In The Next Decade

The below is an essay I wrote for my Technology and Intelligence class in early 2008 (STIA-432 at Georgetown University). It is meant to describe a few of the current problems faced and the nature of those problems, but not to offer up solutions. In the past year we have certainly seen the continuation of existing challenges coupled with the emergence of new ones. Today’s scientific and technological paradigm is by no means a simple one. But I do believe that with the collaboration of bright minds and the continued objective to ride and guide the progressive technological waves of the 21st century, substantial risks will be mitigated.

If History Could Tell

Since the establishment of the Office of Strategic Services in 1942 and subsequently the Central Intelligence Agency in 1947 (via the National Security Act), a core mission has been the collection and analysis of strategic, actionable information. This process has always required technology in the form of communications equipment, navigational tools, security systems, listening devices, and many more. Historically, the Intelligence Community as a whole has been way ahead of the technological curve, and in most cases, has established and controlled the curve. With information security and access to federal funds, various agencies have been given the ability to turn novel ideas into useful instruments for collection, analysis, and dissemination. However, history has become the past, and no longer dictates the way in which the world of technological development can move forward. Federal and international regulations, advancement in information theory, collaborative networks, and the global information age via the internet have all contributed to rapid, world-wide technological development that is no longer behind the IC on the tech curve. In the next decade, the Intelligence Community has the potential to fall even or behind any lines of global technological development, and as a result will find new struggles in all sources of intelligence, whether clandestine or not. Some arguments state that the IC, with some elements of special authority granted to preserve national security interests, will flourish as a developing technical lab for operations. However, the best and the brightest technical and analytical minds are not necessarily organized within the IC anymore, but rather are connected without boundary via the internet. Open-source development and the speed at which the commercial world can access capital may eventually move the IC technical approach to the back of the line.

The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of the Parts

Collaborative technologies have particularly flourished in the past five years. Social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Flickr, knowledge management platforms such as Microsoft SharePoint and TheBrain Technologies, and the entire blogosphere have accelerated communications without any distance barriers to get around. Information is passed, shared, and edited with the click of a button. SourceForge, an online network for open-source software development, has brought a vast array of new technologies to a market that never before existed. This lack of predictability for the technological market puts the IC in “catch-up” mode. Wikipedia, as well as other information warehouses, accelerates knowledge consumption for the individual – not just a business or state entity. With a horizontal, access-free, organizational structure, these applications have few barriers. Although the IC works to chase these technologies with A-Space and Intellipedia, an accompanying hierarchical structure and tiered-access system could truly dampen collaboration on a technological front.

Getting Small Could Lead To…

As the world grows in size and energy, the capability to pack information, data, and logic into smaller and smaller units continues to develop. Through nanotechnology and quantum computing, academic research groups as well as large corporations have minimized size requirements and increased processing speed in the same products. The associated power that now exists in these products outside of the Intelligence Community weakens the IC’s ongoing ability to leverage such products for foreign surveillance tactics with communications, imagery, measurements, and signals collection.

…A Much Bigger Problem

In the next decade, the IC and the United States as a whole will face incredible security and technological challenges. The tension will be increased as national policy will have to deal with finding a balance between civil liberties and national security interests. With recent information warfare events such as hacks into Pentagon computers, developmental advantages can change in an instant. International policies will also affect development within the U.S. government and could unfortunately give an edge to non-governmental organizations that have easier ability to practice CBRN weapons testing (with high-tech delivery instruments), removed from many international regulations. Unfortunately, if the Intelligence Community is to drift toward a more reactionary state, the technological and security risks become increasingly more serious.

A (New) Final Thought

It’s just as important to anticipate the wave as it is to ride and guide the wave. Surfers find waves through reaction AND proaction. The same goes for the collection, analysis, and technological development. There is more historical and real-time data than ever before. Deterministic and probabilistic models are more advanced than ever before. We can do something with all this data to find patterns and indications of technological risk. At the same time, we have more intellectual and psychological understanding of cultures around the world, and the associated mechanisms of travel, prayer, consumption, loyalty, and desire than ever before. Pairing one with the other gives us the connect-the-dot power that can truly shape our understanding and awareness of the world and the technological risks that threaten our security and sustainability as people.

interconnectedness

I just read the Global Risks 2009 report from the World Economic Forum. It details the breadth of risks faced by the entire globe in addition to full descriptions of new and emerging risks such as global governance gaps. It also, with some hints to their algorithms & methodology in Appendix II, plots the risks based on likelihood and severity (in terms of dollars and/or lives lost). Finally, it shows the interconnectedness of such risks with a good little link analysis diagram, where thickness of the connectors depict the strength of connection.
It’s a good (but lengthy) read for anyone trying to understand the state of the world, and a good follow-up to Obama’s speech last night. He mentioned several of these risks and this report surely helps contextualize the risk network. In a sense, no one problem can be solved independently, but must be considered in conjunction with several other problems.

With regards to Obama’s speech in general, I’d like to focus on the optimism posed in his closing remarks. I love the ending and think it should resonate throughout his presidency and beyond:

“We are not quitters.

These words and these stories tell us something about the spirit of the people who sent us here. They tell us that even in the most trying times, amid the most difficult circumstances, there is a generosity, a resilience, a decency and a determination that perseveres, a willingness to take responsibility for our future and for posterity.

Their resolve must be our inspiration. Their concerns must be our cause. And we must show them and all our people that we are equal to the task before us.

I know that we haven’t agreed on every issue thus far, and there are surely times in the future when we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months, and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground.

And if we do — if we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis, if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity, if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit, then someday years from now our children can tell their children that this was the time when we performed, in the words that are carved into this very chamber, “something worthy to be remembered.” Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.”

Great finish, Obama. As an added point, the line about starting and finishing every debate with the acknowledgement of common goals and foundations should especially resonate all over. In a classroom, soccer field, corporation, or on the street – there is always some common goal, foundation, or bond that should keep everyone together. Whether this is what Newton was describing with his Law of Universal Gravitation between two masses, who knows.

“An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.”
– Niels Bohr