6th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Process 4.3 Direct and Manage Project Work: Tools & Techniques

The project management process 4.3 Direct and Manage Project Work is where most of the action is during a project.    If you look at a graph of where the money on a project is spent, a lot of it will be spent here getting the work done that was planned for in the previous process 4.2 Develop Project Management Plan.

There are only three tools & techniques listed under this process, Expert Judgment, Project Management Information System (PMIS) (for example, Microsoft Project or Primavera), and Meetings.    Let’s discuss each of these in turn.

4.3.2 Direct and Manage Project Work:  Tools & Techniques Expert Judgment

As a project manager, you should have as human resources not just the members of your project team, but also experts who may be outside of your project team who can assist the project work because of their specialized knowledge or training.   Sometimes these are referred as SMEs or subject matter experts because their expertise extends to a specific subject matter which affects your project.    Here are some examples from the PMBOK® Guide:

–Technical knowledge related to your industry and specifically to your project

–Cost and budget management

–Legal and/or regulatory matters

–Organizational governance

If you look at the Integral Model of business and leadership from the website



you can see that any project done in an organization can be seen through one of the dimensions listed above, the interior vs. the exterior and the individual vs. the collective.   The expertise needed to run a project will often be related to the exterior/collective dimensions or SYSTEMS which are the contexts in which a project is done, either the technical context (physical systems) or a social context (financial or legal systems), but sometimes related to the interior/collective dimensions or CULTURAL context of the organization itself (organizational governance).  Project Management Information System (PMIS)

Before I talk about the PMIS, a quick quiz:

Is the PMIS such as Microsoft Project or Primavera an example of an OPA (Organizational Process Asset) or an EEF (Enterprise Environmental Factor)?

Answer:  It is an EEF.

Now, the reason why I’m throwing this quiz question in here is that, as a Director of Certification helping train people at our local Project Management Institute chapter in the Chicagoland area to pass the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam, this was one of the questions most often missed by those studying for it.   Think about it for a moment:   does a computer program like Microsoft Project sound like an asset or an environmental factor?   It sounds like an asset; however, there is a distinction to be made.   The data you put into the program is an example of an organizational process asset, because it is proprietary to your organization and should be protected as such.   However, the program itself is usually NOT created by your organization, but is a tool used by your organization to process OPAs such as project schedules, etc.

Okay, that being said, the aspects of a PMIS that you will be using as a project manager while you direct and manage project work are:

–Scheduling software

Microsoft Project is an example.

–Work authorization systems

Work authorization systems ensure that all prerequisites are completed before authorization for a specific work package is given, such as that all preceding work packages are completed, and that all the resources required for that work package are available, etc.

–Configuration management systems

If a project plan is changed, then everybody needs to be working off of the new and improved plan, and not on the old one that has been superseded.   The configuration management system applies a number system (e.g. “version 2.3” where the 2 designates a major configuration change and the number 3 after the decimal point represents a minor configuration change).

–Information collection and distribution systems

The project management team will receive a lot of the work performance data generated by those doing the project work.    It will be turned into work performance information that collects this data on the project work from the PMIS and compares it with what is in the project plan (see paragraph on Key performance indicators or KPI below).  This work performance information is shared with members of the project team.   Work performance information that is considered significant enough to be shared with stakeholders is gathered into a work performance report.

–Key performance indicators (KPI)

Automated systems can take the raw work performance data generated by those doing the project work and turn it into work performance information that is used by the project management team to see how the project work is doing as compared to the project plan.   Often this is done by a key performance indicator (KPI) such as the cost or schedule performance index (CPI or SPI, respectively).  Meetings

Meetings are used by the project manager and the project management team to discuss and address issues pertaining to the project with a) members of the project team and b) appropriate stakeholders.   There are different types of meetings, such as

–Kick-off (either done at the beginning of the Planning group of processes or at the end of planning right before the Executing process group starts)


–Agile process meetings (sprint or iteration planning, Scrum daily standups, sprint or iteration retrospective meetings)

–Steering group (accountable for the project’s expenditure and the overall work of the project)

–Problem solving or brainstorming

–Progress update

PMI recommends the following to make a meeting successful (taken from section Interpersonal and Team Skills):

  1. Prepare and distribute the agenda stating the objectives of the meeting.
  2. Ensure that the meetings start and finish at the published time (NOTE:  you will gain much positive karma from people who go to your meetings if you can end a meeting EARLY, thus allowing them time to prepare for their next task or meeting).
  3. Ensure that the appropriate participants are invited and attend.   (NOTE:  If a key participant cannot attend, it is better to postpone the meeting.)
  4. Stay on topic.   (NOTE:  This is the responsibility of the facilitator of the meeting, who should not be the same person taking notes of the meeting so that he or she can concentrate on precisely this task.)
  5. Manage expectations, issues, and conflicts during the meeting.  (NOTE:  again, this is the facilitator’s role.)   Don’t hesitate to have recorded in an issue log (or “parking lot” or whatever you call it)” any issues or conflicts that arise that cannot be resolved during the course of the meeting itself.   This will ensure that rule 2 is maintained…
  6. Record all actions and those who have been allocated the responsibility for completing the action.   (NOTE:  following up on an “action item list” generated at a meeting is as important or even more important than the meeting itself.)

The next post will deal with the outputs of the process 4.3 Direct and Manage Project Work.






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