What are the benefits that can be derived from project decomposition? Is it worth the time to take this additional step when planning a project?
It Starts at the Beginning
While decomposing a project might seem unnecessary, it can prove beneficial. It might take time to decompose a project fully, but this saves time in the end. You wouldn’t place unwrapped dishes in a moving box to save time, nor should you skip or skim over important steps of the project planning process to save time.
1. Avoid Team Member Confusion
If tasks are broad or vague, project team members will do one of two things: Come to you for clarification (best-case scenario) or guess what you meant (more likely). If they guess, they may miss the mark.
Imagine the following scenario: The vague task is to research the history of England for a video game concept. George researches the contemporary history of England. He hands in the report. You sigh, noting that his report lacks any information about the War of the Roses. By breaking the task of research down into the smallest and most detailed tasks, time and frustration are saved.
2. Eliminate the Feeling of Being Overwhelmed
Another risk is that team members will become overwhelmed and not know where to start. They might procrastinate for fear of being sucked into an abyss.
- You must plan a birthday party.
- You must arrive on time at the party.
- You must find a location for a party.
- You must purchase or bake a cake for a party.
- You must invite people to the party.
- You must decorate for the party.
- You must find entertainment for the party.
- You must arrive at the party on time.
That's basically what decomposing the project boils down to. Not assigning the order of specific steps could cause a delay in getting the project moving because it seems like a monumental task.
3. Create a More Accurate Budget
When tasks have been broken down into their most detailed components, a more accurate picture of what the project will cost can be drawn up. Take the above birthday party example: If you guess that the budget for the whole party will cost $200, you run the risk of going over. Perhaps when you estimated that figure you forgot about the clown request or the decorations. If instead you have an accurate and detailed list of every step that must be taken in order to plan the party, you can then estimate how much each task will cost, and come up with a more accurate figure.You are also less likely to go over budget if you understand what needs to be done and make your list accordingly.
For tips on creating a budget in Project 2007, read Nacie's Article Project 2007: How to Create a Budget and Apply it to a Project Plan.