6th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Process 6.2 Define Activities: Tools and Techniques

The Define Activities process is one that takes the work packages developed in the scope management process 5.4 Create WBS and breaks them down using the same decomposition technique into the activities needed to produce each work package.

Here are the tools and techniques used in carrying out this process.

6.2.2  Define Activities:  Tools and Techniques  Expert Judgment

Individuals or groups who have worked on similar past projects would be helpful in carrying out the process of working out what activities are needed to produce each work package.  Decomposition

This is the same technique used in the 5.4 Create WBS process that took the scope in the form of deliverables and divided it into smaller, more manageable parts called work packages.   Work packages are things, tangible or intangible, and are therefore nouns.  Activities, the effort needed to complete each work package, are verbs.    When creating the activity list for each work package, any additional information about the activity (information about the other constraints associated with it such as the cost, or the resources required, etc.) are included in the activity attributes, similar to the information about the work packages included in the WBS dictionary.

Decomposition is an activity that is best done by teams rather than individuals, because one person may catch something that another person might miss if working alone.   This is why decomposition is often done in meetings (see paragraph ) below.  Rolling Wave Planning

Although planning can be done in a predictive approach, where you plan all the details of the work ahead of time, there is another, iterative approach called rolling wave planning, where the work in the near term at the beginning of the project is done in detail, but the work further down the line is planned at a higher level.   It is a form of progressive elaboration of the schedule plan, but with the added feature that the work on the near term may be started before the detailed plan is completed of the work further down the line.   It is like laying down the tracks for a railroad, and then having the train leave the station at one end while the tracks are still being laid down towards the other end. Meetings

Any planning activity is best done as a team, and this is where meetings come into play as a tool for planning, especially when dealing with a technique such as decomposition.

The outputs of this process are the activity list and the list of activity attributes.   These outputs are described in the next post.


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