Progressive Elaboration

In the last year, I have managed a project in which I knew nothing about the technology. It has been a long year, but success is around the corner and our first set of basically perfect output should be delivered by October. During this year, I have learned some things about project management. At first I thought I had learned that all of the things I had learned and read about regarding project management were a fallacy. Why did I think this? My project was not in my area of expertise, I didn’t have an abundance of project management experience, some dates are out of my control. But then, the light shone in and I re-read the words, progressive elaboration. To me it means, if you don’t know everything about a project, you do get a second chance sometimes because you continue to elaborate. If I don’t know how to make a Spacely Sprocket but have a general idea, I can create a WBS. I can then expand the WBS when I learn more information. Eventually, I will have all of the tasks to make the perfect Spacely Sprocket. (I always wondered what those things were.) 🙂

I am still trying to figure how you move from the WBS to a schedule and costs based on the first pass and then have to tell the primary stakeholder I was off by 6 months and $100,000? How do I justify the additional cost that may come from the unknowns come to light during the elaboration? This is where I get stuck thinking about this. For now, I am going to have to guess that the answer is to do your homework before planning the project so that you are closer to being right.

I still have a lot to learn but feel more confident every day.

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