Saturday, December 5, 2020

Sequential vs Cumulative


I'm a sequentialist.
When planning a project, I think first about how to sequence the scope: do this first, then that. Or, do these things in parallel, followed by this or that.
MS Project, and similar tools, are the sequentialists go-to tool for planning sequences and establishing the sequential order of the project.

Not so fast!

What about cumulative, non-sequential, scope and effects?
For these, we need a cumulalist to help with the plan.

Accumulations of the cumulative
The obvious non-sequential scope is all the sundry overhead that descends on the project: HR stuff, regulatory requirements, environment maintenance, training, re-provisioning and refit, and on it goes.
 
But, that is all foreseeable, and to an extent, such overt actions can be accounted for in the plan.
 
Other things accumulate, leading to a cumulative effect on through-put, and thus cost and schedule, and perhaps even quality:
  • General fatigue from the stress of solving problems and meeting deadlines
  • Frustrations that mount up from dealing with the bureaucracy, other teams, outside consultants and contractors
  • The weather (unless you live in paradise, like I do, in Florida)
  • The pandemic 
  • Network issues and connectivity constraints
  • Security constraints and threats

There are many sequentialists on every project, and in every sponsor organization, keeping watch on the march toward the final milestone. 

Fewer may be cumulalists keeping watch on the build-up of factors and effects that may have impacts on the progress of the sequence.

Beware the accumulation of cumulative effects!

 
 


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1 comment:

  1. A way to connect serial and parallel and other processes is to define the work needed to "increase the maturity of deliverables.
    That starts by defining the deliverables. These are defined on boundaries "fine grained" enough to allow changes in the "plan" to not impact the final set of capabilities produced by the deliverables.
    This is the basis of Integrated Master Planning
    https://herdingcats.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/04/what-does-and-imp-ims-look-like.html

    Here's some more background from a colleague at DAU
    https://www.dau.edu/guidebooks/Shared%20Documents/Practical%20Advice%20for%20Integrated%20Master%20Plans.pdf

    With the IMP, the Integrated Master Schedule can be developed to produce the lower level (all the way down to as much detail as you need) to deliver the incremental increase in the maturity of the project

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