Life and Spiritual Coaching

July 14, 2008

Risk Analysis Techniques

Filed under: PMP — by Donna Ritter @ 12:35 pm
Tags: ,

Risk Analysis Techniques

1.      Brainstorming

Is used extensively in formative project planning and can also be used to advantage to identify and postulate risk scenarios for a particular project. It is a simple but effective attempt to help people think creatively in a group setting without feeling inhibited or being criticized by others.

The rules are that each member must try to build on the ideas offered by preceding comments. No criticism or disapproving verbal or nonverbal behaviors are allowed. The intent is to encourage as many ideas as possible, which may in turn, trigger the ideas of others.

2.      Sensitivity Analysis

Sensitivity analysis seeks to place a value on the effect of change of a single variable within a project by analyzing that effect on the project plan. It is the simplest form of risk analysis. Uncertainty and risk are reflected by defining a likely range of variation for each component of the original base case estimate. In practice such an analysis is only done for those variables which have a high impact on cost, time or economic return, and to which the project is most sensitive.

Some of the advantages of sensitivity analysis include impressing management that there is a range of possible outcomes, decision making is more realistic, though perhaps more complex. And the relative importance of each variable examined is readily apparent. Some weaknesses are that variables are treated individually, limiting the extent to which combinations of variables can be assessed, and a sensitivity diagram gives no indication of anticipated probability of occurrence.

3.      Probability Analysis

Probability analysis overcomes the limitations of sensitivity analysis by specifying a probability distribution for each variable, and then considering situations where any or all of these variables can be changed at the same time. Defining the probability of occurrence of any specific variable may be quite difficult, particularly as political or commercial environments can change quite rapidly.

As with sensitivity analysis, the range of variation is subjective, but ranges for many time and cost elements of a project estimate should be skewed toward overrun, due to the natural optimism or omission of the estimator.

4.      Delphi Method

The basic concept is to derive a consensus using a panel of experts to arrive at a convergent solution to a specific problem. This is particularly useful in arriving at probability assessments relating to future events where the risk impacts are large and critical. The first and vital step is to select a panel of individuals who have experience in the area at issue. For best results, the panel members should not know each other identity and the process should be conducted with each at separate locations.

The responses, together with opinions and justifications, are evaluated and statistical feedback is furnished to each panel member in the next iteration. The process is continued until group responses converge to s specific solution.

5.      Monte Carlo

The Monte Carlo method, simulation by means of random numbers, provides a powerful yet simple method of incorporating probabilistic data. Basic steps are:

a.      Assess the range of the variables being considered and determine the probability distribution most suited to each.

b.      For each variable within its specific range, select a value randomly chosen, taking account of the probability distribution for the occurrence of the variable.

c.       Run a deterministic analysis using the combination of values selected for each one of the variables.

d.      Repeat steps 2 and 3 a number of times to obtain the probability distribution of the result. Typically between 100 and 1000 iterations are required depending on the number of variables and the degree of confidence required.

6.      Decision Tree Analysis

A feature of project work is that a number of options are typically available in the course of reaching the final results. An advantage of decision tree analysis is that it forces consideration of the probability of each outcome. Thus, the likelihood of failure is quantified and some value is place on each decision. This form of risk analysis is usually applied to cost and time considerations, both in choosing between different early investment decisions, and later in considering major changes with uncertain outcomes during project implementation.

7.      Utility Theory

Utility theory endeavors to formalize management’s attitude towards risk, an approach that is appropriate to decision tree analysis for the calculation of expected values, and also for the assessment of results from sensitivity and probability analyses. However, in practical project work Utility Theory tends to be viewed as rather theoretical.

8.      Decision Theory

Is a technique for assisting in reaching decisions under uncertainty and risk. All decisions are based to some extent on uncertain forecasts. Given the criteria selected by the decision-maker, Decision Theory points to the best possible course whether or not the forecasts are accurate.

The Quality Risk

This risk can best be expressed by the question: “What if the project fails to perform as expected during its operational life?” This may well be the result of less than satisfactory quality upon project completion, and is especially true if quality is not given due attention during the project life cycle. Since the in-service life of the resulting product is typically much longer than the period required to plan and produce that product, any quality shortcomings and their effects may surface over a prolonged period of time.

Consequently, of all the project objectives, conformance to quality requirement is the one most remembered long after cost and schedule performance have faded into the past. It follows that quality management can have the most impact on the long-term actual or perceived success of the project.

Risk Perceptions

1.      People do not, in fact, demand zero risk. They take risk every day, both consciously and subconsciously, and they are willing and able to take benefit/risk decisions, as in driving and speeding.

2.      Peoples’ judgment of degrees of risk is not, however, coincident with most methodologies for measuring risk statistically. The public may greatly underestimate familiar risks (e.g. driving) while greatly overestimating unfamiliar risks (e.g. buying a home near a nuclear facility).

3.      A variety of emotional, not logical, factors control risk perceptions:

a.      Primary is the sense of personal control and the ability to mange the risk

b.      Secondary are qualities of familiarity and conversely, dread. The greater the unfamiliarity and potential for connection to gruesome, the more it is likely to be judged as highly risky and therefore unacceptable.

4.      Once established, risk perceptions are extremely hard to change. New information may be absorbed by the intellect, but it is not readily absorbed at an emotional level.

5.      Risk perceptions reside fundamentally at an emotional level.


July 3, 2008

Work Breakdown Structure

Filed under: PMP — by Donna Ritter @ 10:53 am
Tags: , ,

Have you ever mapped out a family tree? Our family has done this for years tracing us back to Charlemagne. Genealogy is favorite habit started my Grandfather.

A work breakdown structure (WBS) is very similar to a family tree. It maps out the deliverables of the project, with sub deliverables and activities stemming in a tree format. One of my favorite ways to do the WBS is with yellow post it’s so you can move them around to where they belong. Once I worked on a project where we had to tape together all of the papers that included the post it’s and it was at least 25 pages. This served us well when we showed management the magnitude of the scope of the project!

Doing this on large sheets of paper is useful so you can capture the finished product. A Guide to the PMBOK describes a WBS this way: “A WBS is a deliverable oriented grouping of project components that organizes and defines the total scope of the project; work not defined in the WBS is outside of the project”.

A Work Breakdown Structure is break down the work packages to enable you to roll them back up to a schedule that is complete. A work package is usually no more than 40 hours.

The WBS should detail the full scope of work needed to complete the project. Accuracy and completeness are required when composing your WBS.

Decomposition is one of the tools you will use when preparing your WBS. You should be able to break down the deliverables to a point where you can easily plan, execute, control and close out the project deliverables. Each work package should be able to be easily estimated in the Activity Definition Process.

You can think of this process in 4 major steps:

1.    Identify all of the major deliverables. The PMBOK is clear on noting that the deliverables should be defined according to the way the project is organized. One way is to organize a project in phases. The phases become the first level of decomposition, followed by the deliverables.

2.    Step2 involves estimating cost and duration. If that cannot be done, then you have to decompose further until the work package can be estimated. I usually use a work package of 20-40 hours at the most. Not all deliverables will have the same level of decomposition. In any case, a schedule cannot be made until the WBS is complete and has estimates that are as accurate as possible.

3.    Step 3 involves identifying components that make up the deliverables.

4.    Step 4 is the verification step. You need to determine that each component listed is clear, complete and necessary to fulfill the requirements of the deliverable. Also, you need to easily add up all the estimates, budget and assignments to create a solid schedule.

A WBS looks very much like a flow chart. The goal is to break down the work so that each work package can be assigned to a specific person for accountability and the Project Manager can easily manage the schedule knowing that all parts of the project have been broken down to their smallest part.

Each Work package is assigned a unique identifier and these are documented in the WBS dictionary. The dictionary includes a description of the work package, costs, budgets, schedule dates, resource assignments and activity descriptions.

This process sounds like a lot of work, but it is a known fact that the more you plan, the better you will be in the end.  I like to use SharePoint to keep this document and keep for the project records.

The WBS plays a major part of Project Management. For those taking the PMP certification course, I was told that if you didn’t know the answer to a question WBS probably was it!

May 28, 2008

PMP Integration Notes

Filed under: PMP — by Donna Ritter @ 5:57 pm
Tags: , ,


·         Project management – application of knowledge, skills,

       and techniques to project  activities to meet or exceed

       stakeholder needs and expectations

·         Operations and projects share many characteristics: performed

       by people; constrained by limited resources; planned, executed 

       and controlled

·         Project – temporary endeavor; unique product or service; beginning

       and ending; life cycle; milestones; process groups 

·         Project – should be aligned with the organizational strategic objectives

·         Projects – progressively elaborated; products, goals and objectives

·         Project management – organizational efficiency and flexibility

·         Project Management Methodologies – detailed project life cycle descriptions

·         Project interfaces – organizational, technical, interpersonal

·         Project stakeholders – anyone has something associated with

       the project

·         Characteristics of phases: milestones, objectives, activities and 


·         Information flow between the executing process group and the

       controlling process group; knowledge areas of project quality

       management (quality assurance process, quality control process)

       and project communication management (information distribution

       process, performance reporting process)

·         Project Integration Management – processes integration;

       operation integration; project/product scope integration;

       describes the processes required to ensure that the various

       elements of the project are properly coordinated

·         Project Management Information System (PMIS) – tool of

       integration management; gather, integrate, and disseminate;

       outputs of all the project management processes

·         Configuration management  – ensure that the description of the

       product is correct and complete; an integrated change control

       technique; when change happens, make sure product functions

       and design characteristics are still kept correct; documented

       procedure used to apply technical and administrative direction

       and surveillance to 4 steps procedures

·         Projectized organization  – project manager power; focus

       and goals clear; efficiency sacrificed; no flexibility; used for large sized

       projects or remote projects.

·         Matrix organization – functional managers staffing and

       administrative work; project manager project work; balance of

       power; complex; demanding for communications and management skills;   

·         Traditional organization – functionally organized; difficult to changes;

       internally focused; still can have projects

·         Project office – projects processes and practices integration;

       provides direction, controls, and reporting structure for projects;

       centralized project management expertise; 3 functions – project

       management services, operation support, management competency;

       danger of project team authority eroding

·         The organization that is a formalized structure directed toward

       the support of the project community within the organization –

       project office

·         The organization that is a formalized structure where the project

       teams and the project managers reside – project management office

·         Planning – most important; executing – most time and costs;

       input preventive and corrective actions; Controlling – taking

       preventive and corrective actions

·         Change control system – tool for change control; a collection

       of formal, documented procedures that defines how project

       performance will be monitored and evaluated, and includes

       the steps by which official project documents may be changed.

       Also defines the Change Control Board.

·         Project conflicts – schedule, project priorities, personal resources

·         Lessons learned and historical records – essential inputs to every


·         Historical records – project files, commercial database, project

       team knowledge

·         Inputs:

o   Contract Closeout has the least inputs

    (1, contract documents);

o   Risk Response Planning has the most inputs (11),

     followed by the Schedule Development (10)

·         Tools and techniques

o   4 processes; Scope Verification (inspection), Communications

      Planning (stakeholder analysis), Risk Management Planning

      (planning meetings) and Contract Closeout (procurement audits)

      have the least tools

o   3 processes; Project Plan Execution (6), Schedule Development (6),

      and Quality Control (6) have the most tools

·         Outputs

o   7 processes; Scope Verification (formal acceptance),

      Resource Planning (resource requirements),

      Cost Budgeting (cost baseline), Quality Assurance

      (quality improvement), Risk Management Planning

      (risk management plan), Solicitation (proposals) and

      Source Selection (contract) have the least outputs 

o   Risk Response Planning has the most outputs (11),

     followed by Cost Control (6) and Risk Monitoring

     and Control (6)

·         The project management team should familiar – statistical

       sampling techniques; organizational theory; team building


·         ISO 9000 provides minimum requirements for an organization

       to meet their quality certification standards

·         Same tools and techniques used

o   Cost Estimating and Cost Budgeting

o   Quality Planning and Quality Assurance

o   Information Distribution, Performance

     Reporting (Partial) and Administrative Closure (Partial)

·         Most used inputs

o   Constraints/Assumptions – 8

o   Project plan development

o   Scope planning

o   Scope definition

o   Activity duration estimating

o   Schedule development

o   Communication planning

o   Qualitative risk analysis

o   Procurement planning

o   WBS – 7

·         Scope verification

·         Scope control

·         Activity definition

·         Resource planning

·         Cost estimating

·         Cost budgeting

·         Risk management planning

·         Scope statement – 6

·         Scope definition

·         Scope verification

·         Activity definition

·         Resource planning

·         Quality planning

·         Procurement planning

·         Project plan

·         Project plan execution

·         Integrated change control

·         Team development

·         Information distribution

·         Performance reporting

·         Most used tools and techniques – expert judgments

o   Initiation

o   Scope planning

o   Activity duration estimating

o   Resource planning

o   Procurement planning

o   Solicitation planning

o   Source selection



Reason to Become a PMP

Filed under: PMP — by Donna Ritter @ 4:35 pm
Tags: , ,

The Project Management Institute (PMI) institutes a globally recognized professsional credited program that promotes professional development and maintains an ISO 9001 certification in Quality Management  Systems. It is the world’s leading not-for-profit association for Project Management. As a member of PMI, you have access to a large library of state of the art information on Project, Program and Risk Management. You have the opportunity to network with some of the finest Projects Managers in the field.

There are 3 creditation programs you can take; The Certified Associate in Project Management, Project Management Professional and Program Management Profesional.

With more than 260,ooo members world-wide, PMI has set itself aside as the experts in Project Management.  I am a certified PMP and I can tell you that this certification has brought me job, networking and education opportunities I would never have had. Please contact me if you are interested or have questions about becoming a PMP.

May 21, 2008

PMP Framework

Filed under: PMP — by Donna Ritter @ 3:28 pm
Tags: , ,

                        Project Framework


Project: a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service. The easiset way to think about it is if it is ongoing it is Operations, not a Project.


Project management: the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques

to project activities to meet project requirements. Project management is accomplished

through the use of the processes such as: initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing.


The term project management is sometimes used to describe an organizational

approach to the management of ongoing operations. This approach, more properly

called management by projects, treats many aspects of ongoing operations

as projects to apply project management techniques to them.


General management: encompasses planning, organizing, staffing, executing, and

controlling the operations of an ongoing enterprise. General management also

includes supporting disciplines such as law, strategic planning, logistics, and human

resources management. The PMBOK® overlaps or modifies general management

in many areas—organizational behavior, financial forecasting, and planning techniques,

to name just a few. Section 2.4 provides a more detailed discussion of general



Application areas are categories of projects that have common elements significant

in such projects, but are not needed or present in all projects. Application

areas are usually defined in terms of:

  • Functional departments and supporting disciplines, such as legal, production and inventory management, marketing, logistics and personnel.
  • Technical elements, such as software development, pharmaceuticals, water and sanitation engineering, or construction engineering.
  • Management specializations, such as government contracting, community development, or new product development.
  • Industry groups, such as automotive, chemicals, agriculture, or financial services. Appendix E includes a more detailed discussion of project management application areas.


Program: a group of related projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually. Many programs also include elements of ongoing operations.


Project Portfolio Management:  Project portfolio management refers to the

selection and support of projects or program investments. These investments in

projects and programs are guided by the organization’s strategic plan and available



Project Management Context:


Project phase:  is marked by completion of one or more deliverables.


Deliverable: a tangible, verifiable work product such as a feasibility study, a detail design, or a working prototype. The deliverables, and hence the phases, are part of a generally sequential logic designed to ensure proper definition of the product of the project.


Project life cycle:  Collection of project phases. They include concept, develop, implement and closeout.


Fast tracking:  Starting a project phase prior to approval of the previous phase deliverables

when the risks involved are deemed acceptable. 



Standards vs. regulations: standards are guidelines, regulations implies compliance.


Project Management Knowledge Areas: integration, scope management,  time management, cost management, quality management,  human resource management, communications management, risk management and procurement management.


Project Management Processes: project processes, process groups, process interactions, customizing process interactions and mapping of processes.


Project Processes series of actions bringing about a result. They fall into the following 2 categories: Project management processes describe, organize and complete the work of the project. Product oriented processes specify and create project’s product (life-cycle).


Process Group (IPECC): used for each knowledge area. They are:

  • Initiating processes—authorizing the project or phase. They are an output to planning.
  • Planning processes—defining and refining objectives and selecting the best of the alternative courses of action to attain the objectives that the project was undertaken to address. They are an output to executing.
  • Executing processes—coordinating people and other resources to carry out the plan. They are an input to executing.
  • Controlling processes—ensuring that project objectives are met by monitoring and measuring progress regularly to identify variances from plan so that corrective action can be taken when necessary. Controlling is an output to planning, executing and closing and has input from executing.
  • Closing processes—formalizing acceptance of the project or phase and bringing it to an orderly end.


Process interactions: Within each process group, the individual processes are linked by their inputs and outputs. By focusing on these links, we can describe each process in terms of it’s:

  • Inputs—documents or document able items that will be acted upon.
  • Tools and techniques—mechanisms applied to the inputs to create the outputs.
  • Outputs—documents or document able items that are a result of the process.


Initiation Process: authorizing the project or phase is part of project scope management.


Planning Process:  is of  major importance to a project because the project involves doing

something that has not been done before. Planning is an ongoing effort throughout the life of the

project. It has 11 core processes and 10 facilitating processes.  (see figure 3-5 in PMBOK).


Scope Management: processes required to ensure that the project includes all of the work required and only the work required to complete the project successfully.


Product Scope: describes the product to be delivered.


Project Scope:

describes the work required to deliver the product.


Planning Core processes. Some planning processes have clear dependencies that require

them to be performed in essentially the same order on most projects. They include:


  • Scope planning – developing written scope statement
  • Scope definition – subdividing deliverables into smaller pieces
  • Activity definition – identifying activities needed to be performed to produce the deliverables
  • Activity sequencing – documenting interactivity dependencies
  • Activity duration estimating – estimating number of work periods needed
  • Schedule development – analyzing activity sequencing, duration and resource requirements to produce schedule
  • Risk management planning – deciding how to approach and plan for risks
  • Resource planning – determining what resources are required
  • Cost estimating – developing approximation of the costs of the resources required
  • Cost budgeting – allocating overall cost estimates to activities
  • Project plan development – taking outputs of all planning activities and putting them into a consistent, coherent document.


Planning Facilitating processes. Interactions among the other planning processes are

more dependent on the nature of the project. Although these facilitating processes

are performed intermittently and as needed during project planning, they are not

optional. They include:


  • Quality Planning —identifying which quality standards are relevant to the project and determining how to satisfy them.
  • Organizational Planning —identifying, documenting, and assigning project roles, responsibilities, and reporting relationships.
  • Staff Acquisition —getting the human resources needed assigned to and working on the project.
  • Communications Planning —determining the information and communications needs of the stakeholders: who needs what information, when will they need it, and how will it be given to them.
  • Risk Identification —determining which risks might affect the project and documenting their characteristics.
  • Qualitative Risk Analysis —performing a qualitative analysis of risks and conditions to prioritize their effects on project objectives.
  • Quantitative Risk Analysis —measuring the probability and impact of risks and estimating their implications for project objectives.
  • Risk Response Planning—developing procedures and techniques to enhance opportunities and to reduce threats to the project’s objectives from risk.
  • Procurement Planning —determining what to procure, how much to procure, and when.
  • Solicitation Planning —documenting product requirements and identifying potential sources.


Executing Core Process:  Project Plan execution – carrying out the project plan


Executing Facilitating Processes:

  • Quality Assurance —evaluating overall project performance on a regular basis to provide confidence that the project will satisfy the relevant quality standards.

April 28, 2008

Hello world!

Welcome to a place where you can learn about new things! The emphasis is on Project Management and Life Coaching. How do the two relate? Well, you need to be in control of your life and able to balance work with pleasure to enable you to be a successful Project Manager.

My goal for this blog is to be able to teach you what I know and hopefully learn what you know.

First a little bit about me. My name is Donna Ritter and I have been in the Software Development business for almost 30 years. I have worked both at large companies (Digital, Compaq and BMC) and small ones. I have worked mostly as a permanent employee in my career but have done consulting on a contract basis. I am a certified PMP and consult with both  companies and individuals trying to get their PMP. I am also available as a life/career coach for anyone interested.

Please let me know what you think and what topics you’d like to see me address. Let’s have fun with this! You can look up my profile on and I am a member of the National Association of Women at work.


Create a free website or blog at