Project Workflow Management: A Business Process Approach

Project Workflow Management: A Business Process Approach


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Foreword by industry legend Harold Kerzner!

This book describes a completely unique step-by-step, workflow-guiding approach to project management which simplifies activities by enforcing execution of all required processes on time, and redirecting to an alternative path in the event of project issues. Since compliance with all project management processes is enforced by the workflow, product quality is significantly improved and life cycle errors are almost eliminated.
Project Workflow Management: A Business Process Approach is the first and only book in the marketplace which enables readers with no prior project management experience to manage the entire life cycle of any small to mid-sized project. It also equips mid- and senior-level project managers with directions and a detailed map to the effective management of complex projects and programs.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604270921
Publisher: Ross, J. Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 11/01/2013
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Dan Epstein has over twenty five years of experience in the project management field and has worked for several major US and Canadian corporations. He also spent four years teaching university students project management and several software engineering subjects. Throughout his career, Mr. Epstein managed multiple complex inter-dependent projects and programs around the globe. This subject matter expert possesses multi-industry business analysis, process reengineering, best practices, and professional training development experience and a technical background in a wide array of technologies. Dan earned a Master's Degree in Engineering, a Master's Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University (2000), a Professional Engineer certification from the Canadian Association of Professional Engineers - Ontario (1987), and a PMP certification from the Project Management Institute (2001). He is a published author and has been a keynote speaker and educator at the PMIsponsored International Project Management Symposium.

Rich Maltzman, PMP, was the winner of PMI's prestigious Cleland Award for literature in 2011 for a book he co-authored entitled Green Project Management. He has published numerous articles and also professionally developed project management professional (PMP) Exam prep courseware and books. Mr. Maltzman has been an engineer at a major telecom since 1978, a project management director since 1988, and has directed large telecom projects such as the 1996 Summer Olympics. In his global PMO work, Rich has been responsible for the learning and professional advancement (career path, competency models, accreditation, credentialing, training) for about 2500 project managers. He is an active speaker and has also focused on consulting and teaching, having developed curricula and/or taught at the Boston University Corporate Education Center, Merrimack College, Northern Essex Community College, and the University of Massachusetts. Rich earned a BSEE from the University of Massachusetts, an MSIE from Purdue University, and Masters Certificates in Business Management from Wharton (University of Pennsylvania) and INSEAD (France). He obtained his Masters certificate in project management from Stevens Institute of Technology.

Read an Excerpt


Introduction to Project Management and Workflow

Why Project Management?

The long project development cycle and large number of defects left in products after their release into production affect not only the direct development costs, but also the lost revenue or even the loss of the opportunity itself. The remedy to the above problem is to assign high priority to well-managed development and the ability to predict cost, delivery date and quality. The only way to ensure this is the application of the discipline called project management.

The great business thinker Tom Peters predicted about 25 years ago in his book Thriving in Chaos that 90% of companies are likely to be either eliminated or transformed into third-generation companies within 10 to 20 years. Those third-generation companies are characterized by involvement of the "knowledge workers" in company decisions on all levels and most company activities either turned into projects or were doomed to failure.

During tough economic times, the ratio of project cost to benefits naturally draws serious attention and has prompted many companies in all industries to rethink their approach to project management.

The tremendous growth of the project management profession is due to the realization that project management is able to provide quality and a predictable budget and schedule for new developments. These factors often determine who the most successful and competitive industry leaders will be. In order to ensure professionalism, the Project Management Institute (PMI) introduced professional certification of the Project Management Professional (PMP) and several other specialized certifications. PMP has become the worldwide recognized and exclusive credential, with an exponential growth to more than half a million credentialed PMPs.

Basic Project Management Concepts

Before describing the project management workflow, it is necessary to have a basic idea about project management concepts. Let's say you have to assume project management responsibilities on a brand new project. You will have many questions: What do you have to do to start and run it? What has to be accomplished? How much is it going to cost and when will it be finished? Who is going to pay for this? What constitutes a project, and what constitutes my specific project? What exactly is the project manager's job and how does it differ from a general managerial job? Let's review those basic concepts.

What Is a Project?

A project is a time-limited business function which has multiple mutually dependent activities scheduled between the planned start and end dates, whose purpose is to create a new and unique solution.

Thus, in the construction business, building a house or factory would constitute a project. Even though the building may look identical to the one across the street, each one of them requires separate individual planning steps and they are not necessarily going to be the same. Development of new software is also a project, just as is performing modification of existing software modules. Creation of a medical center in an existing building or establishing a manufacturing assembly line is a project, too. All the above examples have a scheduled beginning, a scheduled end and have as their product, respectively, a new building, a new software product, a new medical service and a new manufacturing assembly line.

On the other hand, consider a brand new automotive engine assembly line with all the machinery and quality control equipment installed. The task is to start manufacturing car engines on a specific day and to continue doing that for the whole year. This is not a project even though the start and end days are scheduled, because the assembly line is a continuous repeating operation to assemble exactly the same engine again and again.

What Is Project Management?

Project deliverables may be highly technical in nature, using the latest in modern technology. Despite this, project management is not a technical function, but rather is a business function consisting of the project management business processes and the individual project manager's application of the knowledge, techniques, methods and tools he or she has acquired to navigate through the process of managing a project.

While understanding of the practice area (or technology) by a project manager is encouraged, being a detailed technical specialist is not required. However, being fully competent as a businessperson is essential. The days when the best technical specialist was automatically considered the best project manager are long gone.

Project Manager's Duties and Responsibilities

The project manager is in charge of producing project deliverables, planning and running his or her project using the skills available in the project team. One could assert that project management is, in essence, about getting project deliverables completed through the work of others. Under the project manager's control, the precise scope of the project has to be defined, project plans developed, the work monitored and so on. All these will be described in great detail in the remainder of this book. The following are some examples of the project manager's duties and responsibilities:

1. Documenting detailed up-to-date project information

2. Assisting clients in defining project requirements

3. Planning the project

4. Staffing the project team

5. Estimating project work and labor required

6. Controlling project risks

7. Communicating to project team members and leading them

8. Reporting to management and clients

9. Managing client — and all stakeholder (see the note below) — expectations

10. Communicating to all stakeholders and maintaining productive stakeholder relationships

11. Controlling project financials

12. Controlling project scope changes

13. Assuring project quality

14. Organizing meetings, reviews, test activities and so on

15. Transitioning project deliverables to steady-state operation

16. Closing the project and releasing project resources


A project stakeholder is a person or organization that sponsors the project or any entity that has an interest in the project while under construction or in the project's outcome, whether successful or a failure. More details on managing stakeholders are provided in Chapter 9 and the remainder of the book.

Organization Structure

The power of the project manager to build the team and establish compliance with the project plan greatly depends on the organization's structure. There are three major types of organization structure, with some variations from those described below:

1. Functional

2. Matrix

3. Projectized

Functional Organization Structure

In the functional organization structure, the project manager has no authority over resources and cannot assign work to individuals. In this environment, project managers often are called project coordinators and usually have little or no decision or enforcement authority. Here, resources are managed by a functional manager according to the resources' specialization. In this environment you will find a director of manufacturing, director of mechanical engineering, director of electrical engineering, director of marketing and so on. Functional contributors (engineers and marketing specialists, for example) will likely report to line managers who may have different priorities than project managers, and therefore the project schedule may often change, making the specific project stakeholders' satisfaction elusive. The overall authority over projects is assigned to functional or line managers. Professional project managers are rarely happy working in this environment, because of the obvious lack of control and the barriers to good project communication.

Matrix Organization Structure

Here project managers have more power over resources than in the functional organization. Project managers in this environment report either to the same senior manager, just as line managers do (strong matrix), or to the manager of project managers (weak matrix). Line managers are still in charge of resource pools, but after they assign resources to the project, they cannot pull them without the higher level managers' consent. The strong matrix provides the project manager with a stronger position to argue resource issues with line managers and also directly with the second-level manager. Project managers plan resource allocation in percentage points of the full load. Thus, a resource may be allocated for 100% of the time for the first six months, then 50% for another two months and then released altogether. This provides better resource utilization, but requires very thorough planning. The resource requirements changes in one project may lead to resource issues in other projects which share the same resources.

Projectized Organization Structure

In this type of organization there are no line managers. All the organization's activities are broken into large projects, each led by a project manager. Usually this type of organization is effective in heavy industries, such as aircraft, automotive, spacecraft, military and shipbuilding, where each project is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. It is also found in architecture, law and advertising firms, where major projects (a building, a large lawsuit, a major advertising campaign) are taken on as projects for a particular customer. Here project managers have exclusive authority over resources for the project duration and have power to enforce standards, regulations and schedule. Project managers, who often are called program managers, are executives and report to the company's top management. The major drawback here is poor resource utilization, since it is practically impossible to utilize each resource 100% for the duration of the project. In addition, since there are no line managers in this environment, project managers have to perform this additional time-consuming duty for the duration of the project.

Where Do Projects Come From?

Consider the following project initiation scenarios:

1. A project delivery organization wins a bid from an outside company to develop a new product or service. This means that the organization's proposal was selected due to its past experience in that type of project, proven quality or the most cost-effective solution. Sometimes an outside company may award a project to an organization without a bid due to its proven reputation for great results.

2. A project starts due to the specific need of an organization, such as a business need for a new manufacturing line or a new software program which supports the expanded business. In this case the requesting department should outline benefits to justify project expenses.

3. Market research may have determined that there is a market demand for a specific service, system or product, which is predicted to be profitable to the company's business.

Undertaking any project is a business risk for the organization. The bigger the project and the less experienced the team, the larger the risk. The risk may reach such an extent that the company may jeopardize large financial assets, reputation and its very future existence. Project risks will be discussed later, but it is reasonable to expect that a company will not assign an inexperienced project manager to a multimillion-dollar project. It is also unlikely that a new, untested project manager will be assigned to manage a project for an important business client or for development of a brand new marketable product. If such a project turned out to be unsuccessful, the company finances and reputation may suffer beyond repair. In the worst-case scenario, the company may be liable for damages and fines and may even be forced into bankruptcy.

In internal noncritical projects, financial losses may still occur due to an unsuccessful project, but it is less likely that the company reputation will be damaged and fines and lawsuits are not a threat.

There are small differences between the above three types of projects at the initial and closing parts of a project, but the benefit of the project management discipline is that generally the project workflow will not change.

Contract Types

Regardless of the source of projects, they will be governed by a contract with an external client or a statement of work/document of understanding for internal ones. In all documents the schedule of payments will determine when and how the delivery organizationor department will be paid for the project work produced. Most probably, for internal projects within an organization, each department has budgets for projects, equipment and so on. This type of financial discipline promotes responsible internal project expenditures by all departments. There are three major contract types, with some variations of each type:

1. Fixed price contract

2. Cost-reimbursable contract

3. Time and materials contract

Fixed Price Contract

In a fixed price contract, regardless of unexpected events during the course of the project, the price will stay the same, unless specifically defined in the contract. As variations of a fixed price contract, the contract may include incentives for the timely delivery of the project or penalties for late delivery. External clients prefer a fixed price contract because it minimizes the buyer's risk, transferring it instead to the seller. Remember that risk can be positive or negative, so this also provides the seller the opportunity to reap a greater profit by keeping costs low (since the seller would retain the advantage of those lower costs).

Despite this possibility of retaining lower costs, this is the least preferable contract type for project delivery organizations, because often they have to legally commit to the project price and duration before they even have all requirements. Unless your team has plenty of experience developing very similar projects, your risk will be very high. Many large companies that develop projects for external clients avoid taking fixed price projects, at least until project requirements analysis is complete.

Cost-Reimbursable Contract

Cost-reimbursable contracts involve the buyer paying the actual cost to complete the work. Of course, the seller needs to make a profit, so there are a variety of schemes for providing a fee or profit to the contractor, as well as incentives to prevent the seller from incurring unnecessary costs. Here, the buyer assumes the threat of cost increases and reaps the benefits of cost reductions.

Time and Materials Contract

In time and materials contracts, which have elements of both cost-reimbursable and fixed price contracts, rates are negotiated before the contract award; these rates take into account labor and materials. As work is completed, the contractor bills against the rates agreed to in the contract regardless of the actual cost. This in no way means that the project will have a bottomless budget and endless schedule. There are still legal commitments for delivering the project on time and within the estimated price, but the initial project cost estimates may be allowed to have a wider margin of error for the later frames. As more knowledge is gained about requirements and the project details, the accuracy of project estimates will improve.


For those interested in further information on contract types, we suggest that you visit the U.S. Defense Acquisition University site, which contains a wealth of knowledge on the subject (see in particular).

Project Life Cycle

The project life cycle is the sequence of all project activities required in order to achieve project objectives.


This book attempts to keep terminology as close as possible in line with the PMBOK® Guide, but in some cases that is not entirely possible. One of the examples described in the Introduction is that the word frame is used here as a substitution for the word phase. The word phase implies sequential execution. Once a phase is over, the next phase in a sequence starts. Frames are not necessarily sequential. Processes in several frames may be executed at the same time. Each frame is a collection of related processes in the overall workflow.

The following project frames are established in this book:

* Requirements Frame

* Planning/High-Level Design Frame

* Construction/Tracking Frame

* Closing/Testing Frame

Throughout this book, the Planning/High-Level Design Frame often will be called the Planning Frame. The Construction/Tracking Frame will be called the Construction Frame, and the Closing/Testing Frame will be called the Closing Frame.

In the Requirements Frame, the major process goal is establishing justification for the project, allocating detailed project requirements and obtaining project funding. However, if a change request is generated in any frame during the project life cycle, the project flow loops back to the Requirements Frame in order to produce requirements for the scope change request. This frame is generally aligned with the Initiation process group of the PMBOK Guide, but may have other processes related to requirements gathering, analysis, documenting and approval.


Excerpted from "Project Workflow Management"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Dan Epstein and Rich Maltzman.
Excerpted by permission of J. Ross Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Dr. Harold Kerzner,
About the Authors,
Web Added Value™,
Chapter 1. Introduction to Project Management and Workflow,
Chapter 2. Introduction and Initial Project Analysis,
Chapter 3. Business Requirements Analysis (R4),
Chapter 4. Requirements Management,
Chapter 5. Planning/High-Level Design Frame Process Flow,
Chapter 6. Risk Management (P1),
Chapter 7. Work Breakdown Structure Design and Preliminary Project Planning (P5),
Chapter 8. Issue Management (P4) and Configuration Management (P3),
Chapter 9. Communication Management (P6),
Chapter 10. Scope Change Control (P7),
Chapter 11. Estimating (P12a and P12b),
Chapter 12. Outsourcing Management (P14) and Resource Management (P15),
Chapter 13. Statement of Work (P10),
Chapter 14. Quality Management (P2),
Chapter 15. Construction/Tracking Frame,
Chapter 16. Closing/Testing Frame,
Appendix A. Project Workflow Process Hierarchy,
Appendix B. Frames Interaction Diagram,
Appendix C. Keeping Track of Multithreaded Processes,

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