Join Chris Croft for an in-depth discussion in this video Avoiding the forbidden O word, part of Project Management Simplified.
- Now as I've mentioned, one of the dilemmas when you're listing tasks is what level of granularity to go down to. How far should you break tasks down? And there's a sign which tells you that you need more granularity, and that's when you find yourself wanting to say the forbidden "O" word. I've been joking about not saying the "O" word for years on training courses to the point where I actually find it quite difficult to say, it's such a bad word. The producers have asked me to actually say it, rather than just writing it behind me. And the "O" word is "Ongoing." In project management, you must never say that a task is ongoing.
Because if you say that, what you're really saying is you don't know when it's going to finish. And if you think about it, if you're going to plan a project, you have to know when every task starts and finishes. I'll give you an example. Suppose the electrical work on my house was ongoing. The electricians are there for the whole job doing various things. If I allow that to be part of my project plan, it basically means I have no control over the electricians. I'll go and check on them after a couple of weeks, and there's wires everywhere. How do I know they're on schedule or not, I don't.
So the fact that I want to use the "O" word for the electricians means that I need to granulate them down. I need to break their work down into smaller subtasks. Once I've done that, I've got control over them, and I can see how long each task is meant to take, and I can then see whether they're keeping up with the schedule. So the good thing about the "O" word, or awareness of the fact you mustn't say the "O" word, is that it's a sign, it tells you when you need more granularity. And it's quite simple. Instead of saying the "O" word, divide that task down into smaller pieces.
So I'd like you to just think about the project you're working on at the moment. Are there any tasks that you are currently referring to as "ongoing?" And therefore, could you granulate those tasks down into smaller pieces and get more control of them? That's what I want you to do. Ask yourself do you ever use the "O" word? Are you using it at the moment, and could you use granularity as a substitute?
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- Defining project scope
- Deciding how to list tasks
- Estimating costs and time
- Planning for risk
- Staying on budget