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Project Management (a quick tutorial)





Project Management (a quick tutorial)

A guide to help the new project manager

Douglas J. Geniesse, PE 

Barron Construction Services
Richland, WA 99352  USA

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Printed in the United States of America
First Printing: 2010

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F Voice of Experience

comment from experience


I Word to the Wise

general recommendations



topic defined in Wikipedia


1.   I’ve got a project – what do I do….

This guide is for the newly ordained project manager, providing a jump start into project management processes and procedures.This book identifies the key project manager responsibilities and identifies tools which assist the project manager achieve success.

Project management is addressed, as well as, project leadership.

So – what does a project manager do?

This book provides answers, step-by-step.  This book identifies how to:

1. Initiate your project

2. Plan your project:

    • Define the scope
    • Define the project tasks and activities
    • Develop a work breakdown
    • Develop a project schedule
    • Resource load the schedule
    • Develop a Quality Assurance / Quality Control plan
    • Review and mitigate risks
    • Summarize the planning in a project plan
    • Receive stakeholder support and plan endorsement

3. Execute your project

    • Lead regular team meetings
    • Evaluate progress against the plan
    • Provide Quality Control
    • Manage change
    • Revise the project plan as the project changes

4. Validate your project

    • Confirm the project satisfies the project requirements – that the scope has been satisfied

5. Complete and Close your project

    • Identify the requirements to complete the project, including a punch list
    • Adopt and update the applicable standards (or define the steps necessary if the project requirements were not satisfied)
    • Project Management Review: Review what worked and what did not work. Document in a lessons learned summary.
IWord to the Wise –

Review the section on project Close-out. Determine your project documentation needs and set up your files so information storage can support the project from start-up to close-out.It should be easy to pass your project to another project manager by transferring the current documentation guided by a short briefing.

2. What is Project Management anyway?

Project Management is the overall planning, co-ordination, monitoring and control of a project from inception to completion.  The primary purpose is to meet a client’s requirements. 

Project management includes both the leadership of the project team and the management of project activities.  The objective is to produce a functionally and financially viable project that will be completed:

  • on time,
  • within the authorized budget,
  • to the required level of quality, which will
  • satisfying the requirements of the client and other stakeholders

on time, on budget, client's level of quality => stakeholders satisfied 

Project Leadership

The project leader leads the project team by:

  • modeling
  • inspiring,
  • challenging,
  • enabling,
  • encouraging

The goal is to mobilize the project team and transform the project plan into action, through the effort of the project team:

Leadership is … the practices leaders use to transform
values into actions, visions into realities, obstacles into innovations,
separateness into solidarity and risks into rewards.

Leadership Challenge, Oozes and Posner


Managers manage things, leaders lead people 

Project Management Responsibilities

The Project Manager has eight primary areas of responsibility:

  1. project scope
  2. project timeline
  3. project cost
  4. project quality
  5. project risk
  6. project communications
  7. project procurement
  8. project staffing

To succeed the Project Manager defines, plans, schedules, monitors and controls each responsibility.  Conversely the project is not being managed if the project scope, schedule, costs, quality, risk, communications, procurement or staffing are not being defined, planned, scheduled, monitored and controlled.  Specifically:

  1. Scope: The project scope is defined with full stakeholder agreement.  Changes are tracked and managed.
  2. Timeline: The project plan is developed with tasks defined and scheduled.  Time Buffers are in place to accommodate unknown events and minimize impacts.
  3. Cost: The project costs are identified and tracked, per company requirements.  Cost Buffers (contingencies) are in place to accommodate unknown and unplanned events and impacts.
  4. Quality:  Project quality expectations have been defined with quality assurance and quality control efforts in place
  5. Risk: Project risks have been identified and mitigation plans have been developed for the high probability / high impact risks.
  6. Communications: a project communication plan is in place and communication flows as required to plan, resolve issues, document changes, document agreements, track project progress and keep all stakeholders informed
  7. Procurement:  Project purchases are scheduled as required by the project timeline.  Materials and equipment have been selected to meet the project quality requirements.
  8. Staffing:  Project staffing requirements have been defined and staff selected.  The chosen team is skilled and committed to deliver the project scope, schedule and budget.  Project leadership models, inspires, challenges, enables and encourages the project team.
I Word to the Wise

Many project managers believe they manage their project in all eight project management areas; however few actually succeed in all areas.  The probability of success increases as each area is mastered and applied.  

F  Voice of Experience –

The role of project management is seldom defined.  When project management is defined it is often expressed through a circular reference, comprising of everything and anything required to manage the project.  

It is up to you to deliver your project.  To do this you must lead your team and plan, monitor and control the team efforts.  To gain success - review each area of responsibility: daily, weekly, monthly…

Project often start simple and then become complex…. Don’t gamble with project success.  Plan your project and work the plan.

Project Phases

There are four project phases:

  1. Initiation
  2. Planning
  3. Execution
  4. Closeout

Each phase is outlined below:

Project Initiation

In Project Initiation you

  1. define your project end results,
  2. establish your project implementation means and methods, and
  3. receive support from key project stakeholders. 

The project initiation tasks include:

1.      Executive planning:

    • Discuss your project with the executive sponsor
    • Identify your project’s strategic goals, i.e. the business case
    • Identify project stakeholders and their contact information
    • Discuss your project with key project stakeholders
    • Identify the desired level of communication and reporting

2.      Scope Management:

    • Understand the scope of your project
    • Develop a draft project scope statement, including objectives and goals
    • Gather key scope definition documents, including project requirements, studies, reference information, procedures and standards
    • Review the scope with all stakeholders
    • Update the draft project scope statement
    • Identify the effort required to enhance and define the project scope, schedule and budget
    • Define the project delivery process
    • Gain consensus from the project stakeholders

3.      Select your team

    • Select team members based on their ability to deliver – on schedule, on budget, with high quality. 
    • Define team member responsibilities
    • Conduct a project kick-off and affirm the project scope, schedule and budget.  
    • Identify staff responsibilities.
    • Start team building exercises

4.      Communications: 

    • Develop a communications plan and start project communications
    • Start regular project meetings
    • Develop the project Action Item List

5.      Project Timeline:

    • Outline all major deliverables – what and when each deliverable is due
    • Break down major deliverables into a Network Tree of activities, tasks and sub tasks.
    • Organize the tasks to comply with the preferred schedule format
    • Develop a list of preliminary milestones

6.      Procurement: 

    • Identify labor, material and equipment procurement requirements.

7.      Project Costs:

    • Outline the major project costs and form a preliminary financial plan. 

8.      Risks:

    • Identify potential project risks. 
    • Affirm potential risks with the team.

9.      Project Quality: 

    • Establish quality standards. Review the level of quality with the stakeholders. 


Project Planning

Once the project is defined, it’s time to plan the project.  With comprehensive planning the project execution will be more effective and efficient.  The project planning tasks include:

1.      Project Timeline:

    • Work with the project team to develop the project schedule
    • Enhance the Network Tree into an Outline of Tasks
    • Input the tasks into a scheduling software program
    • Identify the resource pool.
    • Identify task durations based on task staffing, their skills, their availability and the budget
    • Establish the relationship (linkage) between tasks (predecessors and successors)
    • Assign resources to each task
    • Establish a task budget
    • Identify project phases and key milestones to match the project deliverable timeline requirements
    • Include time and budget contingencies
    • Save a baseline schedule

2.      Scope Management:

    • Detail the scope of the project.  Seek clarification as required.

3.      Cost Management:

    • Develop the project budget
    • Organize the budget to match the work breakdown structure.
    • Break the budget into appropriate cost management periods.
    • Tie the budget to the schedule.
    • Develop a spend plan, by month
    • Estabish earned value parameters.

4.      Quality:

    • Define the project quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) efforts. 
    • Define the QA/QC roles and responsibilities.

5.      Procurement:

    • Define the process required to acquire services, materials and equipment.
    • Identify sourcing and shipment requirements
    • Identify and schedule all long lead items
    • Validate costing of critical items

6.      Risks:

    • Rate the potential impact and probability of each project risk
    • Develop mitigation strategies
    • Identify potential trigger points for each risk
      (what event or events could cause the risk to materialize)

7.      Staffing:

    • Review the team organization and clarify roles and responsibilities

8.      Communication:

    • Meet regularly with the project team
    • Review the communications and reporting requirements
    • Identify project actions and track on an Action Item list.
    • Define the change management process

9.      Project Plan

    • Document the Project Plan and achieve stakeholder endorsement
    • Once endorsed - communicate the plan to all stakeholders. 


Project Execution

With the project plan the project can be implemented.  The tasks to execute your project:

1. Project Plan:  Implement the Project Plan

    • Filter your schedule for the next 30-60 days and review the key deliverables with your team. 
    • Discuss the near term deliverables, their scope and their due dates.
    • Assign action items and manage action item completion
    • Track progress with the project schedule.
    • Schedule the work effort as required to meet project milestones. 
    • Establish the progress on each active task and the estimated date of completion.
    • Track project expenditures against the budget

2. Project Quality: 

    • Review the project quality. 
    • Document and review all work. 
    • Validate work complies with the quality plan. 
    • Correct the root cause of defects.

3. Staffing:

    •  Review the effectiveness of the project team and it’s leadership

4. Project Progress: 

    • Monitor and Control the project scope, schedule, budget, quality, risk and procurement activities.

5. Project Progress: 

    • Review progress against the Project Plan
    • Summarize the work performed each week
    • Identify the progress against the schedule.  Identify percent complete with all active tasks.
    • Track project costs against the budget

6. Manage Change:

    • Track all scope, schedule and budget changes. 
    • Reach agreement on the changes as required by your team and the project stakeholders.
    • As the project develops and the scope evolves - modify the schedule.  Modify durations, dates, dependencies resource assignments and task based on the project evolution. 
    • Track the schedule progress against the baseline schedule.
    • Revise the plan so it is current.
    • Gain stakeholder buy-in on schedule changes, including the use of buffers.

7. Complete the Project:

    • Review all work efforts and validate all work is complete.
    • Review the completed work with the project stakeholders

Close the Project

To close the project the project team summarizes the work efforts:

  1. Review the project definition, plan and execution so the lessons learned can be applied on subsequent projects.
  2. Create a final report.  Summarize the project outcome against the goals for scope, schedule, budget, quality and risk.
  3. Compile Close-out documentation: 
      • All key deliverables
      • Scope and scope change documentation, including As-built documents
      • Document equipment, required maintenance and warranties
      • Include the Final Repor

Celebrate your project success!

Managing the Project Scope

W Wiki: Scope (project management)

Project Scope is the " work that needs to be accomplished
to deliver a product, service, or
result with the
specified features and functions."


Scope Statement

The scope defines your project.  Having a clear scope is critical. 

The scope statement simplifies the scope so all stakeholders can endorse the key points, it defines the project scope concisely.  It answers the 5W and 2H questions:

  1. Who
  2. What
  3. Where
  4. Why
  5. When
  6. How many
  7. How much
Example: a Scope Statement for a new home:

Build a 2,300 square foot Craftsman style house in Seattle Washington, for a not to exceed cost of $xxx,xxx, including design, construction, permits and taxes.  The house will be designed and built and ready for occupancy by August 1, 20xx.  House to include:

  1. 2 floors
  2. 3 bedrooms, 2-1/2 bathrooms
  3. den, for the family business including wiring for phone and internet
  4. media room, with wiring for phone and cable
  5. gourmet kitchen, with food prep island, 2 sinks (1 on the island)
  6. HVAC: heat pump heating and cooling, ventilation in shop 
  7. Power:
    a. 320A meter base feeding two 200A panels (one panel will be for the shop and garage)
    b. 220V in the shop (2 circuits) and utility room (for dryer)
    C. Two (2) 220V outlets for charging two electric cars
  8. 2 car garage, with shop
  9. master bath with:
    a. his and her sinks
    b. a claw bathtub and
    c. a separate performance shower


  1. landscaping, 
  2. shop:  work excludes work benches and cabinets for tools

Remember to identify the excluded work… 

F  Voice of Experience– Scope Statement

Circulate your scope statement and gain the approval of all project stakeholders.  Getting everyone to agree to the project scope is the first step toward project success.  Often you find someone ~ or many ~ that do not agree on the scope.  You do not want to be arguing the intent of the project months after the project start.

The Project Schedule (timeline management)

The schedule provides the list of tasks needed to complete your project.  It identifies when the task will start, the duration and the target date for task completion. 

Work Breakdown

Action: Develop a Work breakdown Structure.

The Work Breakdown Structure, or WBS, is a listing of all project activities, tasks and sub-tasks.  The WBS serves to define and organize the work effort and taken collectively the WBS defines all project deliverables.

One of the best methods to develop a project WBS is to list the key project tasks on small note cards, i.e. Post-it® notes. 

  • Ask:  what do I need to do to complete this project (these are activities) 
  • Then ask: what do I need to do to complete each activity (these are tasks)
  • Then ask: what do I need to do to complete each task (these are sub tasks)

List each activity, task and sub task on a separate note card.

F Voice of Experience – WBS

It is best to define your tasks as a team exercise.  By jointly defining the tasks you gain the support of your team.

I Word to the Wise

As you consider your tasks and subtasks think about your project budget and the project accounting system.  Your tasks and sub-tasks should link to your budget and your budget should link to your accounting system.  Your budget should form the foundation for your cost tracking.  Your accounting system should provide the feedback that your budgets are being maintained.

Work Breakdown tasks - are like prunes ~
a lot is too many,
a few is not enough

Network Tree

Action:  Organize your tasks and sub-tasks into a network tree:



Task Outline

Action: Develop a Tasks Outline from the network tree: 

Outline of Tasks

Activity 1

          Task 1A

                        Sub task 1A1

                        Sub task 1A2

          Task 1B

                        Sub task 1B1

                       Subtask 1B2

Activity 2

          Task 2A

                        Subtask 2A1

                        Subtask 2A2

Activity 3

          Task 3A

                        Subtask 3A1

                        Subtask 3A2

          Task 3B

                        Subtask 3B1

                        Subtask 3B2





The Project Schedule – a Timeline displayed as a Gantt Chart

Action: From the task list develop the project schedule:

  1. For each task item, identify
    a. Task relationships (predecessors for each task)
    b. Task durations
  2. Add buffers to protect project work flow and to provide contingen
  3. Add a schedule milestone when deliverables are due.

The task outline can be developed on a project management program, like Microsoft Project or Primavera .  The project management program can display the project schedule in Gantt Chart format where all tasks are identified and the task durations, task relationships and task start / stop times are shown graphically.

Resource Management

Action: Identify the resources needed for each task.  Evaluate the work required against the work effort and task duration.  If the work effort cannot be performed within the scheduled duration:

  1. Revise staffing (i.e. add or revise the resources)
  2. Revise the task duration
  3. Revise the sequence of the work
I  Word to the Wise – Look for Constraints

Projects are often constrained by a few key resources.  Schedules can be shortened by optimizing the constrained resources and protecting critical durations with time buffers and management focus. 

F  Voice of Experience – Look for Conservative Estimating

Often schedules allow too much time for each task, as such the resources delay task work with the anticipation that they can start the work as required to meet the project timeline.  The work is delayed until the last minute and the work quality suffers.  This is situation called the “student syndrome”.  

What helps mitigate the “student syndrome”:

  1. clearly define the task deliverables
  2. define the level of quality required
  3. conduct frequent reviews, with task progress identified
  4. adjust the resources and / or schedule to meet commitments
  5. reduce task durations and add buffer
  6. manage the buffer, allowing buffer to be released based on project need

Cost Management

Identify the material and labor costs for each task.  The total of all costs is the Planned Value (PV).

Action:  Evaluate the work required against the work effort and task duration.  If the work effort cannot be performed within the project budget:

  1. Review how the work is being performed
  2. Look for cost saving measures

Include cost buffers (contingencies) as required by the project and project risk. 

Communicate the planned value for each task to the team and gain consensus

W  Wiki: Earned Value Management

Achieving consensus on all PV quantities yields an important benefit …
because it exposes misunderstandings and miscommunications about the scope of the project,
and resolving these differences should always occur as early as possible.

                        Wikipedia, Earned Value Management

Schedule Baseline

Action:  Once the schedule logic is complete (including resource and cost loading) baseline the schedule. 

Schedule Logic and Schedule Management

There are several methods used to develop and manage schedules.  Each method has advocates.  We will outline two schedule methodologies:

  1. Critical Path Method (CPM)
  2. Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)
Critical Path Method (CPM)

Set up the schedule with adequate time for each task.  Identify task durations and the relation (dependency) between tasks.  Add buffers to allow for unknown situations.  Set key milestones.  Identify the critical path.  Monitor the critical path and drive the team to maintain each critical milestone. 

Advantages of the Critical Path Method:

  1. Easy project organization – each task is started as soon as possible
  2. Clear focus – the tem can be focused on the critical elements, driving them to completion.
  3. Less schedule management effort – set the schedule and revise infrequently, revise it only as required.  The goal is to maintain the total schedule adjustments below the total buffer so that the project milestones are achieved.
  4. It's the default - scheduling programs typically default to the critical path method

Disadvantages of the Critical Path Method:

  1. Schedules allow, and in some cases promote, inefficiencies
  2. Projects schedule with CPM typically have longer project timelines


Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)

The Critical Chain Method for schedule management was developed by Eliyahu Goldratt and is outlined in his book Critical Chain.  In this method, task durations are established based on the resources required to complete each task.  The goal is to focus project management on the critical resources.  This method requires all resources to be flexible in task start times and requires all resources to dedicate their effort to the efficient completion of their assigned task.  Critical Chain tasks are monitored and managed aggressively.

With traditional project management methods, 30% of the lost time and resources are
typically consumed by wasteful techniques such as bad multi-tasking,
Student syndrome, In-box delays, and lack of prioritization.

Harvey Maylor, Project Management


Critical Chain Schedule Development and Management Process:

Set up the schedule with the minimum time scheduled for each task.  Identify the critical resources and establish the critical chain.  Add buffers as required to protect the critical chain.  Set key milestones.  Monitor the critical chain and use the buffers selectively, though team collaboration.  Drive the team to maintain each critical milestone. 

The critical Chain process requires the strategic development of buffers:

  1. Project buffers    (to protect key milestones)
  2. Feeding buffers   (to protect the critical chain)
  3. Resource buffers (to protect against resource limitations)

Advantages of the Critical Chain Method:

  1. Shorter project time
  2. CCPM aggregates the safety time added to many subtasks into project buffers to protect project milestones
  3. Resource capability is evaluated with schedules based on resource availability

Disadvantages of the Critical Chain Method:

  1. Requires the Project Manager to promote the CCPM process to the project team.  CCPM is often misunderstood requiring PM leadership and support.  (Team education is often required)
  2. Constant project management / team effort to adjust tasks durations based on actual task need.
  3. Team members must be flexible in task start times.
  4. Resources must be flexible in task start times
  5. Once the task starts the resources must dedicate their effort to the efficient completion of their task.
  6. Constant PM / Team interaction is required to manage the project buffers and avoid the waste of project safety time


Comparison between Critical Path and Critical Chain Project Management

In project management, the critical chain is the sequence of both precedence- and resource-dependent terminal elements that prevents a project from being completed in a shorter time, given finite resources. If resources are always available in unlimited quantities, then a project's critical chain is identical to its critical path.


Key Differences between Critical Path and Critical Chain:

Critical Path
Project Management (CPM)

Critical Chain
Project Management (CCPM)

Project progress and health is managed by reviewing individual task performance against time and cost budgets.

Project progress and health is managed by reviewing the consumption rate of the buffers.

The critical chain is developed against the apparent optimum solution.  The optimum solution is reviewed and revised as the project is developed.

Determining the absolute optimum is difficult – if not impossible.  In CCPM the schedule flows with project evolution, always protecting the project constraints.

each task is started as early as possible

each task is started as late as possible

schedule milestones are fixed

schedule milestones are protected with buffers


Schedule Reports

Schedule programs offer several reports.  Examples of key schedule reports and their use:

Key Schedule Reports




Project Summary

Summarize the baseline and forecast budget and completion date.

Provide a high level review of schedule and budget performance


Identify the budget for each project task

Track actual costs against baseline costs.  Summarize by work breakdown structure.


List key milestones and associated milestone date

Coordinate key dates in the project plan

Who does What

List resources and task assignments

Define the work effort of each resource - by task and timeframe

Earned Value

Compare the budget against the plan

Identify schedule and cost variances

I  Word to the Wise –
The above reports are extremely useful in project planning, however their effectiveness is dependent on the accuracy and application of the developed schedule.


Project Management requires validating progress.  This requires a plan with schedule and a regular review of the work performed –

An accurate understanding of status requires regular contact with  each task owner and reviewing progress against the plan…
(validation is so easy to say, but is rarely performed)

Cost Management

Cost management includes the monitoring and control of projects costs.  Costs are allocated, monitored and controlled as required to maintain the project budget.  

The primary cost management activities:

  1. divide your project budget by major activity
  2. sub-divide the activity budget by work phase, work section and work group
  3. add costs to the project schedule with cost thresholds by major activity and work group
  4. communicate the budgets for each major task to the task leaders
  5. monitor cost expenditures against the task budgets
  6. identify potential cost impacts and execute mitigating actions, as required
  7. revise the actual and projected costs on the project schedule
  8. control expenditures as required to meet task budgets

Some projects are budgeted by work hours.  If so, the process is the same, with work apportioned by labor hours.

I  Word to the Wise –

Most companies have established procedures for cost allocation and budgeting.  Follow the budgeting process of your company!  If you do not follow the company process you may be dramatically off in your budgets.

F  Voice of Experience –

If the project does not have a budget, develop one anyway and manage accordingly.  If you don’t have a project accounting system, budget and track labor hours and cost expenditures. 


Include contingency in your budgets.  The size of the contingency will be based on the strength of your scope and your experience with similar projects.  Common contingencies:

  1. Scope contingency (for minor scope changes)
  2. Schedule contingency (the cost impact of time delays)
  3. Design contingency (for changes that occur in the design)
  4. Construction contingency (unknown conditions for items not addressed in construction cost estimates)

Each contingency should be discussed with your client. 

Contingencies can change over the project life cycle.  As the project progresses some contingencies can be revised, and hopefully reduced.

Earned Value

Earned Value is a common method of tracking project costs and determining if you are over or under budget.  Earned Value compares the planned completed work with the actual completed work.  The goal is the early identification of schedule and / or cost variances so they can be remedied.

Earned Value indicates potential project performance problems.  An earned value analysis helps to identify were items are late and / or over budget, as the impact of one can disguise the other.

W  Wiki: Earned Value Management

Earned Value Management promises to improve the definition of project scope, prevent scope creep, communicate objective progress to stakeholders, and keep the project team focused on achieving progress.


The Earned Value calculations are an output of most project management software programs.  It requires:

  1. scheduling all primary tasks
  2. identifying costs against each major task (labor and material costs)
  3. setting a schedule baseline at the project start
  4. updating the schedule as the project progresses: updating timelines and updating project actual costs: updating task cost and task duration 

Earned Value Parameters

The key earned value parameters are identified below:

Key Earned Value Parameters





Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled

Planned percent complete times the planned cost

(the Planned Value)


Budgeted Cost of Work Performed

Actual percent complete times the planned cost to date.
(the Earned Value)


Actual Cost of Work Performed

Actual cost to date


Earned Value Schedule Variance



Earned Value Cost Variance



Budgeted at Completion

Planned Cost


Forecast at Completion
(Estimate at Completion)

Scheduled Cost



BAC minus FAC

Earned Value: … Positive is good; negative is bad. When you see positive numbers in the variance columns of the Earned Value table (that is, the SV, CV, and VAC columns), you are ahead of schedule or under budget, so far. When you see negative numbers in these columns, the task is behind schedule or over budget. When you see $0.00 in SV, CV, or VAC, the associated task is exactly on target with the schedule or budget.

Microsoft Office Project 2003 Inside Out by Teresa S. Stover

I  Word to the Wise –

Earned Value provides an early warning of performance problems.  As an example - tasks can appear below budget because they are late; hiding one problem with another.  

W  Wiki: Earned Value Management

Wikipedia has a great discussion on earned value management.  The calculations can be extensive; however they are automated in many of the scheduling programs.

How to read the Earned Value Chart:

  1. determine the Earned Value, Planned Value and Actual Value curves
  2. determine the schedule variance in cost and time by comparing the Earned Value to the Planned Value for schedule performance
  3. determine the Cost Variance by comparing the Earned Value to the Actual Value for cost performance

The diagram above shows a positive variance (good), however the achievement is diluted by the tasks behind schedule. 

In actuality - the delays may overshadow the cost savings, adding additional costs and thereby diminishing (even eliminating) the savings achieved to date.

W  Wiki: Earned Value Management

Earned Value Management promises to improve the definition of project scope,
prevent scope creep, communicate objective progress to stakeholders, and
keep the project team focused on achieving progress.



Quality Assurance and Quality Control

Quality is judged by the customer, not the project manager or the project personnel.  Quality management includes three components:

  1. Quality Planning: identifying quality standards and the process to satisfy them
  2. Quality Assurance: the evaluation of overall project performance (providing confidence that the quality standards will be maintained)
  3. Quality Control:  monitoring specific quality performance and eliminating unsatisfactory performance

The cost of avoiding defects is almost always less than the cost of re-work.

Quality Planning

To achieve quality you must t identify the specific quality expectations of your customer and develop a proactive quality plan to meet each expectation.  

Quality must exist in each process and procedure:

  1. Quality planning
  2. Quality materials
  3. Quality labor performance
  4. Quality monitoring and control

Project quality planning is summarized in the Project Quality Plan.  The most important part of the quality plan is the quality assurance and quality control activities to be performed.

Quality is planned in, not inspected in.

Quality Assurance / Quality Control (QA/QC)

Quality Assurance (QA) is a set of activities designed to ensure that the project development process is adequate to ensure the project will meet its objects.  QA is process oriented.

Quality Control (QC) is a set of activities designed to evaluate the developed project work product.  QC is product oriented.

W Wiki:  Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance:  Two key principles characterize QA:

  1. ‘fit for purpose’ (the product should be suitable for the intended purpose) and
  2. ‘right first time’ (mistakes should be eliminated)”


W  Wiki:  Quality Control

Quality Control:  "Quality control emphasizes testing … to uncover defects…’


Every project must balance time, cost, and scope.  When budget and schedule are constrained, it is the project scope that must be reduced, not quality! And it is increasing scope, not quality, that increases project cost and/or time.   

Quality Assurance Tools

The tools used for Quality Assurance:

  1. Identify the applicable quality codes, standards and requirements
  2. Constraint analysis and process improvement tools (i.e. Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints)
  3. Defect reduction tools (i.e. process mapping, cause and effect diagrams, brainstorming, Pareto ranking)

Quality Control Tools

The tools used for Quality Control:

  1. quality reviews at every stage of project development
  2. identify, analyze and decrease defects
  3. checklists and inspection forms
Checklists and Inspection Forms

A checklist is a list of steps to be performed.  An inspection form identifies all critical to quality characteristics.


A metric is a measurement taken to assess performance.

What gets measured gets done.



The Quality Process

The quality process:

  1. Develop the quality plan to meet the customer’s expectations. 
  2. Use Quality Assurance to establish the appropriate level of quality. 
  3. Use Quality Control to validate that the quality has been achieved and the expectations have been satisfied. 
  4. Use metrics to identify quantity and quality of work performed 
  5. Analyze the primary defects and determine the root cause.  
  6. Remedy the root cause and track quality improvement.
  7. Strive to prevent defect reoccurrence.

Quality Management is initiated with quality assurance, supported by quality control.

A good quality program is a learning program, with continuous improvement and active defect reduction. 

Mitigating Risk

Evaluating the project risk:

Risk Assessment

Identify all the known risks.  Identify the probability of the risk happening (high, medium, low) and the impact of the risk if it actually occurs (high, medium, low).  For all high probability and high impact risks identify a mitigation plan. 


Risk Example: bad weather will delay home construction: 

  • Probability:    High
  • Impact:        High
  • Mitigation Plan:
    1. Frame in the dry season and enclose the home before the rainy season
    2. Include weather impact days in the schedule
    3. Identify tasks that can be completed during inclement weather
    4. Watch the weather predictions and plan accordingly

Uncertainties embedded in the projects are the major cause of … mismanagement.

Goldratt, Critical Chain

Project Communications

80% of all problems stem from poor communication
67% of all statistics are made up on the spot, including this one

Project management requires the consistent communication of ideas, visions, plans, strategies and decisions.  Efficient and effective communication is central to all project activities.  Without open, honest, and direct communication the project team will be handicapped and constrained.  If your ideas, visions, plan, strategies, decisions are not clear, your team will make sub-optimal decisions and your project will not succeed, your stakeholders will not get what they need or require.  And eventually

Communication Plan

Communication is one of the major project manager responsibilities.  Keep everyone informed and focused on the most critical tasks.  Develop a plan for project communications:

  1. How often do I communicate
  2. To whom
  3. Why?


Stakeholder Compass

When you view your communication responsibility it is useful to think of the stakeholder compass. 


Your project needs to satisfy the following stakeholder groups:

  1. The client
  2. Your company management
  3. The project team
  4. External stakeholders, i.e. the public 

Each of these groups needs to be kept informed.  The type of communication and frequency is determined based on the project needs and the needs of each stakeholder group.  As an example the client is interested in project schedule, project quality and budget.  Your company management shares the same interest; however they are also interested in the cost of project prosecution and minimizing company financial risk.  Your team is interested in project leadership, clear management and the removal of constraints. 

You should include yourself in the stakeholder mix.  If your life is not in balance your project is at risk.

Communication Methods:

Your project and your team will determine the best mix of emails, phone calls and meetings.  Experienced teams meet only as required.  Inexperienced team need to meet as required assuring efficient work prosecution.  Group meetings should be for group discussions – not for discussions best served by one-on-one or small group meetings.

Be professional in your email communication.  It is all too common for email dialog to become too casual or too emotional.

Communication Tools

The following tools are often used for communication:

  • Email and similar written communication
  • Project Meetings
  • Action item lists
  • Task Notices
  • Critical Issues reports (Dailies / Weeklies / Monthlies)
  • Punch Lists 

Email and Written Communication

Determine the level of formal notification required and document what needs to be documented.  Documentation generally foals into the following groups:

  1. Scope definition
  2. Coordination of cost and schedule information
    a. Future efforts
    b. Past performance
  3. Status reporting
  4. Documentation of changes
  5. Problem resolution
  6. Decision analysis
  7. Contracts and agreements
I  Word to the Wise –

Treat email as formal communication.  Use proper grammar; check spelling; double check to make sure your message is clear.

Project Meetings

Project success depends on the completion of tasks that are interdependent.  This requires teamwork and collaboration.  Toward this goal - meetings can be one of the most powerful leadership tools or one of the least. 

Meetings are the primary setting where one-to-group management skills are exercised and the place where these skills can have the greatest impact on the performance of the team.  The way you and the members of your work unit behave when you come together in meetings is an important factor in creating a high performance team.

Creating the High Performance Team, Wilson Learning Corporation

Typical Meeting Agenda

Each meeting should have a purpose and an agenda.  Common agenda items:

  1. Project Status
  2. Change management, current issues and concerns
  3. Quality management, current issues and concerns
  4. Current action items (a review of the past due actions)
  5. Risk management
  6. Project schedule and the tasks that need to be completed in the next 30 days
  7. Recap of near term assignments and actions 

Task and Activity Management

A major function of the project manager is the management of activities and tasks.  It is important that all work efforts are well defined with scope, schedule and budget known.  If the team is experienced the tasks can be large and the tasks listed on the schedule.  If the team is experienced the tasks can be defended on an Action Item list, see below.  If needed Sub-tasks can be defined in specific Task Notices, see below.

This can be a top down or bottom up effort. 

Top Down:  the PM defines and delegates the task
Bottom Up: the team members define the tasks

Bottom Up has proven to be the best method for task ownership. 

F  Voice of Experience –

Pick the communication method that works best.  Based on the individual, the communication method and style may be different.

Action Item List

An action item list identified the actions required.  For each action you assign:

  1. Who will do the task (assigned to)
  2. When it will be done (due date)
  3. Current status
  4. Recent Progress and actions
  5. Date completed



Assign each action item a number and list the items on a word document or spreadsheet. 

The action item list should be reviewed regularly with items needing assistance identified.

Task Notices

Task notices are sometimes needed to schedule the activities required to complete a schedule task or action item.  As an example:

Example 1: Develop a Value Engineering Study, due 9/15

Task:  The XYZ study shall include….

Specific Sub-Tasks:

  1. Develop draft Table of Contents (TOC)          John, due 8/15
  2. Circulate the draft TOC to the team              John, due 8/15
  3. Team review of TOC                                  Team, 8/15-8/22
  4. Team provide comments on TOC                 Team, duce 8/22 


Critical Issues Report (CIR)

The Critical Issues Report documents the progress of the project and coordinates critical issues.  Depending on the size of the project the report can be issued daily, weekly and/or monthly. 

Critical issues are issues impacting project scope, schedule, budget, risk or quality and require resolved in a timely manner.  Identify the milestone dates required for issue resolution.  Identify any issues or concerns.  Note the person currently taking action and the person responsible for issue resolution.  .

Include an update on each key project management area of responsibility: 

  1. Scope: identify the work performed and all changes in process. 
  2. Schedule: On all active schedule tasks identify the percent complete and the anticipated date of completion. 
  3. Procurement: identify the status of procurement efforts.
  4. Quality: identify the QA/QC efforts complete with the metrics for the work performed this period
  5. Communication: identify upcoming meetings and the due dates for documents and reports.
  6. Risk: identify current risk issues and their mitigation efforts.
  7. Cost Management: review the work performed against the task budgets.
  8. Change Management: include the status on current and potential changes to project scope, schedule or budget.
  9. Planning:  Identify the work completed this period, the work “in process” and the work planned for the next report period. 

The critical issues report should be brief and to the point.  It should not be a cut and paste compilation of all correspondence.  Progress is often documented in bullet points. 

Add all items requiring action to the Action Item list.

I  Word to the Wise –

It is best to organize the CIR so the critical issues are at the top – channeling the reader’s focus to the issues requiring attention. If the CIR includes critical issues and the CIR is transmitted by email - indicate on the transmittal email that the CIR includes critical issues.

F  Voice of Experience –

The CIR serves as a great team communication tool – all team members should participate, providing input.  Those that have difficulty documenting progress often undermanage their work effort, leading to potential cost, quality and / or schedule difficulties.

I  Word to the Wise –

Often the budget review is conducted through separate stand alone reporting.  Though separate the budget should never be forgotten… Develop a format where the task leaders report the actual and forecast work effort as it relates to the task budget.  [Reference the section on Earned Value reporting.]


Project Procurement

Identify requirements for labor, services, material and equipment.  Organize purchases to minimize cost and schedule impact. Develop a master list of equipment, order status, estimated date of arrival, location for receipt and confirmation of receipt.  Identify the specific responsibility along each step of the way.

Project Staffing

Most projects require a project team.  It is important to plan your staffing needs and identifying the required work effort.  Determine the level of effort required and determine the needed commitment level. 

Is there a match between the effort and level of commitment? 
If not, take action…

Minimize the team size.

Doubling the number of people four-folds the synchronization effort.
Goldratt, Critical Chain

Understand the extent of potential conflicts with other responsibilities, vacations, holidays and other projects, to name a few.

Understand the need for training.  Is everyone fully trained and experienced, or is some training and support needed?

I  Word to the Wise – Specialists and Support

Projects often require specialists.  As an example - Project control specialists include specialists skilled in schedule, quality, documentation, contracts, procurement and cost management… 

You can extend your team with support from professional organizations and networking groups.  As an example has several project management groups. 

F  Voice of Experience – Project organizational chart

Develop an organizational chart for your project.  Often team members are assigned to a project without knowing their specific role.  An org chart allows the roles and responsibilities to be defined.  It will also define the communication path within your project. 

Will everyone support your project or compete for leadership?  This is especially important for senior managers as they are often outside the project structure, requiring special interaction and support.


Lean Management

Review the team efficiency and effectiveness.  Use the principles of Lean Management.

W  Wiki:  Lean Manufacturing

Lean is centered on preserving value with less work.  Lean is renowned for its focus on reduction of seven wastes:


Each time a product is moved it stands the risk of being damaged, lost, delayed, etc. as well as being a cost for no added value. Transportation does not make any transformation to the product that the consumer is willing to pay for.


Inventory, be it in the form of raw materials, work-in-progress (WIP), or finished goods, represents a capital outlay that has not yet produced an income either by the producer or for the consumer. Any of these three items not being actively processed to add value is waste.


In contrast to transportation, which refers to damage to products and transaction costs associated with moving them, motion refers to the damage that the production process inflicts on the entity that creates the product, either over time (wear and tear for equipment and repetitive stress injuries for workers) or during discrete events (accidents that damage equipment and/or injure workers).

Waiting or (WIP) Work in Process

Whenever goods are not in transport or being processed, they are waiting. In traditional processes, a large part of an individual product's life is spent waiting to be worked on.


Over-processing occurs any time more work is done on a piece than what is required by the customer.  This also includes using tools that are more precise, complex, or expensive than absolutely required.


Overproduction occurs when more product is produced than is required at that time by your customers. One common practice that leads to this muda is the production of large batches, as often consumer needs change over the long times large batches require. Overproduction is considered the worst muda because it hides and/or generates all the others. Overproduction leads to excess inventory, which then requires the expenditure of resources on storage space and preservation, activities that do not benefit the customer.


Whenever defects occur, extra costs are incurred reworking the part, rescheduling production, etc.

The wastes are managed to improve overall customer value.

The goal of Lean then becomes the creation and maintenance of a project plan which runs effectively, day after day, week after week – effectively and efficiently.

Do the Right Things, then Do Things Right – without waste

Project Plan

A Project Plan considers:

  1. Scope, including scope statement
  2. Schedule, including a summary of key milestones,          
  3. Project labor and material budgets
  4. QA/QC: How to achieve project quality   
  5. How to mitigate risk          
  6. Main communication tools for:
    a. Team meetings, including standing agenda items
    b. Action items
    c. Work progress
  7. Procurement, including critical timelines and quality requirements
  8. Staffing, including a project organizational chart
  9. Contact information
  10. Change Management

The project plan can be given to all team members and used to communicate how the project will be accomplished.  It should be updated as conditions change.   

I  Word to the Wise – Project Plan

Many people believe the project plan is the schedule.  A good project plan considers everything in this primer.

Tracking Project Progress

Track the project progress.  Request updated from all team members working on active tasks.  Identify possible issues and concerns and review progress against the schedule and project plan.

Tracking Progress

Update project progress:

  1. obtain status updates for planned work:
    a. percent complete on all active tasks
    b. estimated date of completion, for all active tasks
    c. performance against labor and material budgets, by task and by project
    d. a description of all cost and time variances
    e. issues / concerns
    f. anticipated changes and impacts
  2. Update the task durations and adjust the work effort to meet project requirements.   Revise the schedule logic, if required.
  3. Add the actual labor and material costs to your schedule
  4. Review budged cost and planned timeline against actual cost and time expenditures (i.e. refer to the section on Earned Value)

Reading a Schedule

Most schedule programs graphically show today’s date and the completed tasks.  By follow the today’s date line you can quickly see which tasks are behind schedule. 

  1. Is all work scheduled prior to today’s date complete?  If not mitigate the cause of the delay.
  2. Are all the tasks on the today line active? If not – resolve the problem.
  3. Compare the active schedule against the baseline schedule:  Are the task durations and labor hours being adjusted to accommodate actual work efforts – including delays?
  4. Are the assigned resources supporting the active (uncompleted) tasks?
  5. What is the forecasted completion date for each active task? 
  6. Are any critical tasks in jeopardy?
  7. Are resources available for future tasks – tasks to be completed within 30 days, within 60 days?

The goal is to determine if the active tasks will be completed in time and on budget to satisfy the project requirements.  That project buffers are being used wisely.  If not the appropriate action should be taken. 

I  Word to the Wise –

If the schedule logic is not being followed, re-plan the project, develop a new schedule and develop a new plan.  It is extremely difficult to manage a project without a plan.

F  Voice of Experience

Often early task durations are extended on the schedule while shortening later task durations.  If a one week task takes two weeks at the beginning of a project, is it reasonable to assume a two week task at the end of the project can be completed in one week?

I  Word to the Wise –

Projects off schedule or budget in the early phases seldom recover.  One study showed that less than 5% of the projects off schedule or budget at an early milestone (i.e. 15% complete) ever recover.  The successful project manager drives for schedule and budget performance from day one.

Change Management

Projects are dynamic, changing as conditions change.  A change in one area often leads to a change in another area. 


  1. Document each change - as it occurs
  2. Evaluate the change as it relates to schedule, cost, quality, risk, staffing, procurement
  3. Communicate the change to appropriate stakeholders
  4. Receive acknowledgement the stakeholders support the changes and the changes to schedule, cost, quality, risk, staffing, procurement
  5. Revise the plan, schedule and budget to accommodate the change

It is important for the team and all stakeholders to know the current as well as the changed condition.  Often small changes impact the project scope, schedule, budget, quality and risk. Often decisions will need to be made between two or more alternatives, weighing the impact of various scenarios.

Project scope and scope changes must be defined, managed, controlled, verified, endorsed and communicated.  Small projects may use a spreadsheet to track the changes.  Large projects may use a database change management system.

The defined Change Management process should be included within the Project Plan.

IWord to the Wise –

Delaying a change decision may limit your options and force an undesirable or more costly scenario.  Many contracts have time requirements for the identification and resolutions of change events – know these requirements!

Change Management Log

The change management log summarizes project changes so they can be tracked and managed.  It provides:

  1. A unique number assigned to each change
  2. Critical dates for change tracking and coordination
  3. An explanation of the change and a listing of the parties affected
  4. A description of the impact to scope, schedule and cost


As the change is reviewed and processed:

  1. Update the cost and schedule impacts as the information matures
  2. Identify the next change action and the party who is responsible for the action.
  3. Identify the approval status and disposition of the change 

Scope Creep

If requirements are not completely defined and described and if there is no
effective change control in a project, scope or requirement creep may ensue.



I  Word to the Wise –

Beware of scope creep 

Project Completion

Identify the requirements to complete the project:

  1. Punch List
  2. Lessons Learned
  3. Project Close-out documentation

The Punch List identifies the work required for completion.  Summarize what worked and what did not work in a lessons learned review.

Punch List

A Punch List is a specific list of work required to complete a project.  In construction this list is developed by the client when the contractor states that his work is complete.  This is the final list of items to be completed.  After which the project is considered complete.  The list is updated and re-issued as the tasks are completed.  Organization of the Punch List:

  1. Item number
  2. Item description
  3. Source (who identified the issue so you can gain additional information, if needed)  


Lessons  Learned

On every project there are lessons to be learned.  The wise project manager gathers the lessons and adds this knowledge to future projects.

The Lessons Learned Summary:

  1. Group the Lessons Learned into pre-established groups.  Topics include project related lessons as well as project management lessons.
  2. Provide a brief description and a detailed description. Include examples when appropriate
  3. Identify the applicable sub-team
  4. The lessons accepted can be organized and tracked with a reference numbers.
  5. As the review team reviews the lessons learned, they can add clarification or definite actions as program comments.
  6. Provide a ranking so the lessons can be prioritized.

I  Word to the Wise –

Use the lessons learned as a brainstorming exercise.  Praise the team for work well done and gather ideas about how problems can be avoided in the future

Project Close out Documentation

All projects come to an end – eventually.  To prepare – organize your files so the completion effort is easy. 

Examples of Close-Out documentation:

  1. Scope documents
  2. Design Documents, including flow charts
  3. Decision making documents
  4. Final configuration
  5. Maintenance and Service information, if required
  6. Users guides
  7. Project schedule
  8. Change management information, including documentation on each change
  9. Contract Changes
  10. Cost Management
  11. Stakeholder information
  12. Location of all stored files and documentation 

I want to hear from you

If you have worked your way through this book – congratulations!  I know your time is valuable.  So, thank you. 

I would like to know what you think of this book.  What should be added, deleted or revised for next year’s edition?  You can contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   Good luck on your next project – may it be :

on schedule, on budget, top quality with all stakeholders satisfied!  


Reference Material

The reference material below will assist you as you tackle your challenges:

  1. A Guide to The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK),  Project Management Institute
  2. Project Management: Tools and Trade-offs, Klastorin
  3. Project Management (The Briefcase Book Series), Heerkens
  4. Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling, Kerzner
  5. Professional Project Management, The Guide, Yamal
  6. Project Management : A Managerial Approach, Meredith and Mantel
  7. FASTER Construction Projects with CPM Scheduling, Woolf
  8. Microsoft Office Project 2003 Inside Out, Stover
  9. Successful Project Managers, Leading Your Team to Success, Pinto and Kharbankda
  10. Creating the High Performance Team, Wilson Learning Corporation
  11. The Goal, Goldratt
  12. The Critical Chain, Goldratt
  13. The Balanced Scorecard, Kaplan Norton
  14. Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Posner
  15. Working It: Design a Life and Career That Works, Hutchins
  16. WIKI:



Appendix A - Project Management Proficiency

How can you determine if you have acquired proficiency in project management?

A project manager is proficient when:

  1. The project manager is a project leader, modeling, inspiring, challenging, enabling and encouraging
  2. The project scope is defined and changes are managed and resolved
  3. The project plan includes a schedule and the schedule is used to track project progress
  4. The project plan included budget and the tasks are completed effectively and efficiently
  5. Project risks are identified and high probability / high impact mitigated
  6. The project has a Quality Assurance and Quality Control process and the process is being followed to provide high project quality
  7. The project has effective communication, using action items and project status reports
  8. Tasks are being managed, proactivelyFigure A1 is an example of a project management proficiency matrix.




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Construction Management Southeast Kansas

What is Project Management?

Project management is the process of planning, organizing, securing, and managing resources to achieve project goals.

What is a Project?

A project is a temporary work effort with a defined beginning and end, undertaken to meet specific goals and objectives. Projects are designed to bring about beneficial change or added value.

Read more

What is Construction Project Management?

Construction Project Management is project management that applies to the construction sector.  Construction Project Management includes the overall planning, coordination and control of a project from inception to completion aimed at meeting a client’s requirements in order to produce a functionally and financially viable project.

What is Construction Management?

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise ...

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