When too detailed becomes a labyrinth.

When it comes to project management, project managers would generally apply the methodology which consists into a fragmentation of the project into a variable number of phases and sub-phases. The purpose of this action, by means of phase based project architecture, is to identify all components of the project. Next step being to distribute them on a timetable, associate tasks, assign resources, and determine a set of milestones.

It seems to be a good strategy, and generally speaking the adage “divide and conquer” is quite appropriate. The project revolves around a row of successive steps. For each of those phases we have determined the workload, define responsibilities of each and every one, and have budgeted the time required for each sub-step that constitutes the project phases.

It is a fact that, to properly define a budget, it is recommended to go into the details of the activities composing the project, and for each of them to estimate the time that is necessary for its implementation and the related costs.
However, a grain of sand can slip in this fancy management mechanism and generate complexity and confusion. Indeed, if the architecture of the project is too detailed, employees are at risk of getting lost when logging their time and expenses.

Let’s take an example:
My project consists of twelve phases. On average, each phase consists of five sub-phases. Each sub-phase is composed of an average of four sub-steps. Finally, each of these sub-steps consists of three to five types of activities. Consider the activity ‘meeting’ for example. In Phase ‘1’, I shall have the choice between five sub-phases and then four sub-steps to log my time spent on the activity ‘meeting’.

The risk of error is extremely high, especially if the input mode is done manually (via email, file, or using Excel, for example) … Every mistake will affect the budget per phase and may cause violent headaches to the controller or the project manager during the billing process. Especially if the controller bills the real number of hours and related expenses spent on the project. In terms of project management, it is therefore necessary to find the ideal compromise between determining a realistic budget and a project architecture limited to main phases and sub-phases. Going into detail activities to define the budget is recommended. In contrast, the architecture of the project, for obvious reasons of ease of use and monitoring should be limited to the main steps.
To avoid this pitfall, we recommend validating the relevance of each step, and clearly define the needs in advance when creating project templates. Abak Software specialized in time management, billing, and project cost management will guide you through this process.

Contact our experts for more information.

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