6th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Project Management Data and Information

I am starting a project of going through the 6th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide and blogging about its contents.    The 6th Edition was released on September 22nd by the Project Management Institute, and the first chapter is a general introduction to the framework in which project management exists, starting with section 1.2 Foundation Elements (section 1.1 describes the purpose of the Guide).

The section I am going over in this blog post is section 1.2.4 Components of the Guide, although it should be titled Components of a Project (in my humble opinion).   In the section I am covering today, Project Management Data and Information, it discusses some of the common outputs of project management processes, namely, work data, work information, and work reports.    Let’s answer some questions on these three categories.

How are they different?

Here’s how they relate to each other:   data → information → reports.   More specifically,

  • Work performance data are raw observations and measurements identified during activities that carry out the project work.   They are produced as outputs of Executing processes.   (Examples:  percent work completed, start and finish dates of schedule activities, actual costs, actual durations of activities)
  • The work performance data are then inputs into Controlling Processes, which are then analyzed and integrated based on relationships across knowledge areas to become work performance information that can be used by the project team.    They are produced as outputs of Controlling Processes of the various knowledge areas.  (Examples:   status of deliverables or change requests, earned value estimates of project status and forecasts for project completion).
  • The work performance information is input into the Overall Project Control process (4.5 Monitor and Control Project Work) in the Integration knowledge area, where it is compiled and then represented in documents called work performance reports which are then distributed not just to the project team but to stakeholders.   (Examples:  status reports, electronic dashboards, memos, recommendations.)

For more details, see Figure 1-7 Project Data, Information and Report Flow on page 27 of the Guide.

Example of data and information flow

Here’s an example.   Let’s say I am working as a project manager and I want to find out how things went on the project yesterday and then report the status to my stakeholders.  I find out how much time the project team members spent on the various activities they were supposed to do yesterday.    John worked 4 hours and Mary worked 4 hours.   Great.   This is an example of work performance data, which in this case is focused on the actual work done.

Now, I take a look at the project plan and compare the actual work done with the work that was planned to be done yesterday.    Well, John was supposed to work 4 hours on the project, so that’s okay, but Mary was supposed to work 6 hours but only worked 4 hours.  Oops!   Using earned value management, I can say that the SPI is 0.80.   The schedule performance index is derived by taking the actual hours worked (8) and dividing this number by the number of hours that were planned to be worked (10).   By using the work performance data and comparing it to the project plan, I have now created work performance information that can be used by the project team.   We not only know that we are behind schedule, but by precisely how much (2 hours).   In our project team meetings, we can then go into the reason why.   Let’s suppose it turns out that Mary’s functional manager wouldn’t let her work six hours on the project because of some urgent work she had to do for her department.    After talking to the functional manager, you find out that the urgent work is done, and she can work an extra two hours on the project tomorrow to make up for the time lost today.

You then prepare a work performance report, which informs the stakeholders that the project is behind schedule, but that the reason for this has been ascertained and the project is forecast to be on schedule again at the end of the next day.   You then promise to update them tomorrow after you make sure that this delay has been corrected.

So to recap, the work performance data takes the actuals, and compares them with the plan to produce the work performance information, and this is further analyzed and compiled into a work performance report which tells the stakeholders what they need to know:   the work is temporarily behind schedule, but corrective action is in the process of being taken.

This concludes the section 1.2.4 on Components of the Project.

The next section 1.2.5 talks about tailoring the standard for project management described in the 6th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide to fit a given project.   That will be the subject of my next post…






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