Saturday, August 18, 2012

Project Manager, Development Manager, and Work breakdown structure

A person who is good at the execution will know the importance of creating work breakdown structure (WBS).

A good executor makes things happen, or get things done (GTD).  A good executor not just come up idea and plans, but know "how to" make thing happen.  They also know what the WBS looks like.

Coming up a WBS, from PMI's PMBOK perspective, is a planning task. It is a function performed by a project manager.

However, I found that coming up a work breakdown structure is actually sometime a technical job that requires people to have certain level of the domain knowledge.  Similar projects have similar WBS, especially at the high level.structure.  When I go further down to the detail level, I found that the work breakdown structure will be more specific and requires people to have the knowledge to come up the breakdown and come up the list of tasks.

A project manager is really a role the assigned resource plays.  A project manager is really not a separate function. I feel that we cannot easily make a good project manager who can manage construction project well to be a project manager for software development.  There are shared knowledge that can be useful for any project manager.  The project manager to manage a specific type of project need to know that work down to certain level to do the project manager job.

Who should create the WBS? Can the job of creating WBS to be assigned to someone else? 

I think that it cannot be totally avoid anyway when we go down to the detail levels.  For a new project that has not yet been done before and no similar project the project manager can use to come up the WBS, the project manager need  to work with the architect who need to come up the high level components to help project manager to manage the project.

I think that this process also define how the architect works with the development manager.  I think that typically the person with the development manager title in software development organization should play the project manager role.  Sometimes, a project leader or an architect may also play the project manager role. A person who never played the project manager can still be a good architect, but is never qualified to be a development manager.

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