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Part #68: The 3D WBS method to help the Project Manager

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The Project Manager is generally not the manager of the data of the project. On big projects, there are often a cost controller, a planner, an quality engineer, a risk manager, etc., who manage the data of the project. The tasks of project management are distributed to specialists. These managers give periodically the result of their analysis to their Direction, which can then make decisions. The project manager generally does not manage the data of the project, especially on a big project, he coordinates. Often, on a big project, the project manager is attached to a project Director.


In the reality of the big projects, it is often difficult to coordinate methodically and by the use of the computer technology all the disciplines which work together with an aim of managing the project as well as possible.


How many times as a planner I tried to link the costs and the times to apply the method of the Earned Value (EVM). The dates and physical progress come from the schedule but the expenditure and the budgets come from the cost controller, and costs must be spread out over the schedule’s tasks. The communication between the cost controller and the planner must be strong, and there must be common points between the costs and the planning in a computer point of view.


Often, there is also a person in charge of the risks. But the quantitative risks come directly from planning - they are even calculated by the planner and his tools, the risks which relate to the costs come from the cost controller, etc., the communication between these various actors must be strong, same thing for the structure of the information which must have common points.


For technical documentation it is the same thing. How to build a planning system without correlation with the Electronic Documentation management system? How the planner can make to calculate the physical progress of the design deliverables without strong connections with the cost controller and the person in charge of technical documentation?

Of course the contract manager must be in relation to the other actors of the project, in order to carry out claims for time delays or over costs for example. And so on…


Each actor needs information coming from other actors, and it is absolutely necessary there is an overall coherence, knowing that the management of the confidential data like the costs must be managed. All the disciplines are in interaction, and their common point is the WBS of the project (Work Breakdown Structure, or the structure of decomposition of work).



It is appropriate that the Project Manager has an information system powerful and effective, connecting all the disciplines of the Project Management in a coherent and systematic way, capitalizing also progressively. Moreover, the project must be managed methodically, as well as the planning, the technical documentation or the costs, etc.
The success of an “integrated project Management”, connecting all the disciplines together, is linked to the coding of information.


After about fifteen years of consulting on big projects, I understood well how the projects are structured and I translated it in a method which I called “3D WBS method” and by extension “3D Project Management” - this because all the disciplines of management are turning around the WBS.


3D WBS method is meta-method which can be applied to all the projects, I mean services projects, IT projects, or product development projects, infrastructure or industrial projects. The 3D Project Management is compatible with the existing methods such as the critical path, the PMI methods or PRINCE2. In the 3D WBS model, the project has the shape of a cube representing the work, on which the organization is assigned to it (colors of the little 3D cubes), and the time interacts. The more the project is large and complex, the more 3D Project Management brings value, but it can also be applyied to more modest projects.


The 3 dimensions of the WBS are the physico-functional Zones, the Products and the Activities. The organization forms the fourth dimension. The time is the fifth dimension.


I suggest to the Project Manager to set up a coding of information on all the disciplines intervening on the project: quality, contracts, planning, costs, risks, communication and documentation, resources, global project management and scope management. The codes of the various managed elements must imperatively have a code: Zone, Product, Activity and Organization. Thus, this makes it possible methodically to connect all the disciplines of the Project Management, which facilitates the exchange of the information.


Independently of human dimension, the Project Manager must be “well surrounded” in terms of methods and of tools, it is the vocation of the 3D Project Management or 3D WBS method.


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