Group decision-making techniques


Myth of one man leadership is myth of lone warrior. It is not possible for one person to solve all organizational problems because they are too complex in nature & environment is turbulent. Leaders need a team to solve problem in collaboration instead of solving it in isolation of his own.

We need board of directors to run a company. Group of people to work as team in projects. It is no more a one man show. Issues are everywhere. Each issue needs one solution decision – so group decision-making are inevitable nowadays. Here are some widely used group decision-making methods to reach decision.

Group Decision-Making Techniques

What methods & techniques are used in Project Scoping?


One of my blog reader asked me following question – “identify the principles, methods and techniques used for scoping a project?” In reply I wrote a mail explaining all the methods & techniques that is generally practiced for scoping of project. I am sharing the mail content here for everyone’s benefit.

Scoping a project involves two step process – gathering requirements & defining the scope with collected information.
Before I mention about the principles, methods & techniques for scoping, let me present some of my views about Scoping in Project:
  • Project Scope should cover everything that satisfies the customer need
  • Arriving final approved scope is very challenging task among all the activities in Project Management
  • Defining & Managing Scope is the backbone for Project Management
  • It is not a single person’s activity & it involves a group of people mainly project stakeholders. Lot of group interactions will be carried out during the requirement gathering & defining scope
  • Scoping is so vital which affects all other important factors in Project like schedule (hence delivery), cost, resources and risks
  • Generally high level of scope is available as part of Project Charter
  • Enough time need to be given to prepare & review for project scope before approval. Also any scope change after approval is going to affect the Project’s outcome
  • It is not necessary that entire project scope should be defined & available at the start of a project. It is progressively elaborated.
Requirements gathering uses various elicitation (data gathering) techniques to document exact need of the customer. Some of the group elicitation techniques are:
1. Facilitated workshops – An elicitation technique using focused sessions that bring key cross-functional stakeholders together to define product requirements
2. Focus groups – An elicitation technique that brings together pre-qualified stakeholders and subject matter experts to learn about their expectations and attitudes about a proposed product, service, or result
3. Group creativity techniques – Techniques like Brainstorming, nominal group technique, mind-mapping, affinity diagram, Multicriteria decision analysis are used to gather the requirements & define the scope
4. Group decision-making techniques – Decision on gathered information arrived using analytic hierarchy process, voting/democratic methods. Final decision will be arrived by any one of the below methods – unanimity, majority, plurality, dictatorship.
Inputs from subject matter experts(SME) plays a major role in the requirements gathering. Here are some techniques that involves SME’s:
1. Expert judgment – Judgment provided based upon expertise in an application area, knowledge area, discipline, industry, etc., as appropriate for the project scoping.
2. Interviews – A formal or informal approach to elicit information from stakeholders by talking to them directly. Different question types (like open-ended, close-ended, etc) are used to gather the requirements
3. Questionnaires and surveys – Written sets of questions designed to quickly accumulate information from a large number of respondents
Other methods to scope the project is to perform analysis on available information.
1. Document analysis – An elicitation technique that analyzes existing documentation and identifies information relevant to the requirements
2. Product analysis – For projects that have a product as a deliverable, it is a tool to define scope that generally means asking questions about a product and forming answers to describe the use, characteristics, and other the relevant aspects of what is going to be manufactured
3. Alternatives generation – A technique used to develop as many potential options as possible in order to identify different approaches.
4. Context diagrams – A visual depiction of the product scope showing a business system (process, equipment, computer system, etc.), and how people and other systems (actors) interact with it
Prototyping is creating models of deliverables help in understanding the need & articulate the requirements. Sometimes requirements gathering is performed by observation of tasks being carried out & noting down the processes, pain points and exact user steps
Here are the pointers for further reading:
Requirement Elicitation Techniques – http://www.umsl.edu/~ycnx6/  (Retrieved on 01/06/2014)
Ten Requirements Gathering Techniques – http://tynerblain.com/blog/2006/11/21/ten-requirements-gathering-techniques/  (Retrieved on 01/06/2014)
Elicitation Techniques for Processes, Rules, and Requirements – http://tynerblain.com/blog/2007/09/13/elicitation-techniques-2/  (Retrieved on 01/06/2014)
Analytic Hierarchy Process – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analytic_hierarchy_process  (Retrieved on 01/06/2014)
Of course you need to go through PMBOK 5th Edition as reference to get universal definitions.

Breakdown Structures – A Powerful Project Management Documentation Format


Documentation & maintenance of documentation is one of the hardest and important activities in Project Management. Hundreds of plans, mails, progress tracking, change requests, document updates, contract documents, etc are few examples of documentation events in project life cycle. There are three main formats used to represent information in documents.

1. Text format – This is most used format as we are trained to write paragraphs & pages from our childhood.

2. Tabular format – This is used when a matrix or log type of information representation is required i.e. responsibility matrix, risk log.

3. Tree hierarchical format – This type is used to depict whenever parent-child relationship exists between different elements. This is the prevalent type used in all “Breakdown Structures”. If you analyze you can see, basic structures built-in Mind mapping is very much tree hierarchical in nature. That’s why Mind Mapping technique can be used directly into your project documentation.

Project Management Documentation formats

Project Management Documentation formats

Breakdown structures

Breakdown structures are important document formats throughout Project Management Life Cycle. One can see Work BS, Resource BS, Risk BS, Organizational BS used in most of the Project.

Breakdown structures follow the general principle of life –

“What you think as a big & unachievable can be achieved by breaking it down into smaller pieces & successfully finishing all smaller pieces leads to completion of the big”.

I like to give simple and effective example here. You are about to have a big buffet lunch. If you think of eating all in one stretch, then it is surely unachievable. You are finishing that tasty feast by eating one mouth at a time.

In Project Management, Breakdown structures are hierarchical representation of information based on certain broad element at the higher level and detailing it out in the descending levels (This is what you do exactly in Mind Mapping too!). A breakdown structure has nodes that represent some text attached to it that conveys some specific information. Nodes are connected with branches in a parent-child tree structure that follows parent = sum of all children rule.

Few other general design principles applies to breakdown structures like 1) 100% Rule 2) Mutual exclusive elements 3) Level of detail. Here are few commonly used breakdown structures and their explanations.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) – The WBS is a hierarchical decomposition of the total scope of work to be carried out by the project team to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables.

Resource Breakdown Structure (RBS) – The resource breakdown structure is a hierarchical representation of resources by category and type.

Organizational Breakdown Structure (OBS) – A hierarchical representation of the project organization that illustrates the relationship between project activities and the organizational units that will perform those activities.

Risk Breakdown Structure (RBS) – A hierarchical representation of risks according to their risk categories.

Monitoring and Controlling Process Group Process – Verify Scope


Scope verification is a formal process for deliverable acceptance. This process comes under Scope Management Knowledge Area. There is a bit of difference between Scope verification and Quality Control process.

Scope verification – deals with acceptance of deliverable

Quality control – deals with correctness of the deliverable & meeting the quality requirements specified for the deliverable.

Generally, Quality control is performed before scope verification or can be in parallel with scope verification.

Below is the Mind Map of Verify scope process. I tried putting as much information as possible in each branch in this process map to bring out completeness to it. Hope this will be useful to you.

Verify Scope - Scope Management Knowledge Area - Monitoring & Controlling Process Group

Important Note:

* Note# 1: There could be some typo or presentation errors. Please reply back for any corrections.

* Note# 2: You can use this for personal use (like studying for PMP Exam or PM activities). But don’t share this in common forum or web sites. As this one is part of my training guide and project management book.

Planning Process Group Process – Create WBS


You can go approach any project manager and ask – “What are the challenging task in Project Management?” They will certainly say “Scope management” as one of answer. Within Scope Management, creating WBS is the key & critical activity. If WBS defined accurately for a project, project will be a sure success”.

Create WBS comes as 4th in Planning Process Group and 3rd in Scope Management Knowledge area. Here is the mind map for Create WBS with all necessary detail about each components of it.

Create WBS

Create WBS Process - Scope Management Knowledge Area - Planning Process Group

Important Note:

* Note# 1: There could be some typo or presentation errors. Please reply back for any corrections.

* Note# 2: You can use this for personal use (like studying for PMP Exam or PM activities). But don’t share this in common forum or web sites. As this one is part of my training guide and project management book.

Planning Process Group Process – Define Scope


Define scope is second Scope Management Knowledge Area process in Planning Process Group. For any project scope definition is an important & mandatory step. All the work & only the work that is scoped as part of scope statement is performed in the project. All others requirements outside the scope statement is considered as Scope Creep (change of scope) which will be avoided for project success (which may not be true in practical scenario). Here is the mind map for “Define Scope” process.

Define Scope Process - Scope Management Knowledge Area - Planning Process Group

Define Scope Process - Scope Management Knowledge Area - Planning Process Group

Important Note:

* Note# 1: There could be some typo or presentation errors. Please reply back for any corrections.

* Note# 2: You can use this for personal use (like studying for PMP Exam or PM activities). But don’t share this in common forum or web sites. As this one is part of my training guide and project management book.

Planning Process Group Process – Collect Requirements


Here is the mind map for the second process in Planning Process Group – “Collect Requirements”. This is part of Scope Knowledge Area. Requirement collection is basic & mandatory steps for any project.

I put complete information on each ITTO item and represented in mind map format here. Hope this will be useful to you.

Collect Requirements

Collect Requirements - Scope Knowledge Area

Important Note:

* Note# 1: There could be some typo or presentation errors. Please reply back for any corrections.

* Note# 2: You can use this for personal use (like studying for PMP Exam or PM activities). But don’t share this in common forum or web sites. As this one is part of my training guide and project management book.