Determination of Project Approach

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In the design phase of a project the project designers should determine the time frame for the project implementation. In order to achieve this, an initial breakdown of the project into smaller components (subprojects or components or tasks or activities) and determination of the time needed to implement each one, should be made. The breaking down aims to facilitate the formulation of the implementation approach and help the project manager to develop an appropriate project plan at a later stage. Each project usually dictates the breaking down method to be applied which normally will be one of the following:

Time Sequence: This way is preferable when some steps must be completed before others start. For example, in case of a training project, this can be broken to: the training needs identification component, the training programme preparation, the training programme implementation and finally the training programme evaluation.
Structurally: Any large size project has structural elements that give the project shape. For example, the construction projects that include design and build, are usually divided in these two components, which sometimes are being awarded to different subcontractors. Projects that include business process reengineering and development of IT systems (to support the implementation of the new processes) are divided into two components one related to the processes themselves and another related to the IT system.
According to the organizational unit/ contractor that is planned to implement the project. In this case the work components are broken down according to the organizational units that are going to implement each component. Accordingly, when the project is going to be implemented by external resources, the work components must be split according to their future assignments to different contractors.

After the breaking down of the project into components/ activities, the time needed for implementing each one should be determined. This should be done by asking yourself the following questions:

Are there any historical data regarding the durations for the implementation of similar previous activities? Such data or information should be taken into account when estimating activities duration.
Are there any links or constraints between the components/ activities of the project? For example, in order to start implementing one activity another one should have finished first (Finish-to-Start) or the implementation of two activities should finish at the same time (Finish-to-Finish).
Are there any dependencies with other projects? Are there any components/ activities which come as a result or require input from the components/ activities of another project?
Are there any deadlines that should be strictly observed? For example, in case of a project regarding the harmonization of the Cypriot Law with the EU Directives, the deadlines defined by the EU should be respected and treated as fixed milestones.
Are there any identified possible risks that may affect the timely implementation of some activities? In this case incorporate an additional timeframe, called “time reserve” or “contingency” in order to provide for scheduled risk.
Are there any components/ activities that are going to be procured? If so, then provide time for the whole procurement process (preparation of tender documents, announcement, tendering process, evaluation of tenders, contract award). 

Analytical Work Breakdown Structure and time scheduling of projects activities are prepared during the Planning phase, which is presented in Chapter 7 of this Guide. 

Example 1-5: Breaking down a project into components

PPD designs to implement the following project: “Measures to develop the implementing capacity of the Cypriot Authorities in applying the European Public Procurement legislative package”.

The project breakdown leads to three components:

Component 1: Improving the implementing capacity of the Cypriot Authorities

Component 2: Harmonization of legislation

Component 3: e-procurement study.

The first component includes the following:

Preparation of a set of recommendations concerning the role, organization, processes of the PPD, as well as the services that has to provide in the future, according to the new legislative framework
Compilation of an Action Plan for the PPD in order to be ready to undertake its new role
Preparation of a Best Practice Procurement Guide giving  guidance on the practical aspects of the procurement process, starting from the identification of the needs up to the contract management and contract closure
Proposal of a training programme and provision of training courses/ seminars which will help the staff in the public sector and semi-governmental organizations to assimilate the provisions of the new Directives as well as the best practices indicated by the Best Practice Guide.

The second component includes the following:

Comparison of the national legislation with the new EU Directives concerning Public Procurement (EC/17/2004 and EC/18/2004) and drafting the changes that have to be done in the national laws
Drafting of new legislation (two national laws) which has to include the necessary amendments

The third component includes the following:

Preparation of a study concerning the application of e-procurement in Cyprus
Preparation of Terms of Reference to be used for launching the implementation phase of e-procurement.

The above presented is a typical example of breaking a project down into its structural elements. Each of the components includes activities that are logically and thematically correlated, formulating a cohesive unity which leads to discrete deliverables.

© 2007 Republic of Cyprus, Treasury of the Republic, Public Procurement Directorate
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