Project Management Control Variables

Project Management tries to gain control over variables such as risk. Potential points of failure: Most negative risks (or potential failures) can be overcome or resolved, given enough planning capabilities, time, and resources. According to some definitions (including PMBOK Third Edition) risk can also be categorized as "positive" meaning that there is a potential opportunity, e.g., complete the project faster than expected. Customers (either internal or external project sponsors) and external organizations (such as government agencies and regulators) can dictate the extent of three variables: time, cost, and scope. The remaining variable (risk) is managed by the project team, ideally based on solid estimation and response planning techniques. Through a negotiation process among project stakeholders, an agreement defines the final objectives, in terms of time, cost, scope, and risk, usually in the form of a charter or contract. To properly control these variables a good project manager has a depth of knowledge and experience in these four areas (time, cost, scope, and risk), and in six other areas as well: integration, communication, human resources, quality assurance, schedule development, and procurement.

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a tree structure, which shows a subdivision of effort required to achieve an objective; for example a program, project, and contract. The WBS may show hardware, product, service, or process oriented. In a project of contract, the WBS is developed by starting with :
• the end objective and
• successively subdividing it into manageable components
• in terms of size, duration, and responsibility (e.g., systems, subsystems, components, tasks, subtasks, and work packages)
• which include all steps necessary to achieve the objective.

The Work Breakdown Structure provides a common framework for the natural development of the overall planning and control of a contract and is the basis for dividing work into definable increments from which the statement of work can be developed and technical, schedule, cost, and labor hour reporting can be established.
The Program (Investment) Life Cycle integrates the project management and system development life cycles with the activities directly associated with system deployment and operation. By design, system operation management and related activities occur after the project is complete and are not documented within this guide.

For example, see figure, in the US United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) the program management life cycle is depicted and describe in the overall VA IT Project Management Framework to address the integration of OMB Exhibit 300 project (investment) management activities and the overall project budgeting process. The VA IT Project Management Framework diagram illustrates Milestone 4 which occurs following the deployment of a system and the closing of the project. The project closing phase activities at the VA continues through system deployment and into system operation for the purpose of illustrating and describing the system activities the VA considers to be part of the project. The figure illustrates the actions and associated artifacts of the VA IT Project and Program Management process.

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