Thursday, May 3, 2012

Project Managing My Job Hunt 2: WBS

Once the project has been defined and authorized, then the tasks can be defined and organized.  This results in a work breakdown structure (WBS).  The WBS helps define the budget, schedule and delegation.  It is not in chronological order, but rather grouped by phases or task types.  For example, in class we are working on a landscape project.  Construction efforts are separated from the planting efforts, since these are likely to be dealt with by different aspects of the team.  Again, in my case, all the tasks are my responsibility eventually, but it is helpful to me to see all the things I should be doing so I can determine whether I am spending my time appropriately.  Creation of the WBS, and even the schedule and budget are still planning

Our teacher showed several ways these can be organized, either like the outline for a long paper, with headings like 0.0 Landscape the park
     1.0 Landscaping
          1.1 Plant Grass
          1.2 Plant Trees
          1.3 Make walkways... right?
Or like a phylogenetic tree.  This would work better if I were doing this by hand.  Since I am putting this together in Blogger, you'll see the paper outline version.

My professor specifically recommended to think global first, keep the organization light at first, and not to define any task which seems to burdensome to manage.  Although he said it is common to refine to too much detail, and then remove tasks that don't seem worthy of being a line item on a schedule.  (I'll be honest, I am not entirely sure I understand what he means).

For myself, this means I am creating a gross brainstorm of tasks, then organizing them into groups and subgroups and looking for gaps.  It's an interesting exercise for the job hunt.  I can imagine how on a larger project this might be a more iterative process with different teams weighing in on the essential tasks and predicted schedule and budget while the project is still in the planning phase.  Oh, and things that don't end up on the WBS include administrative tasks, such as "meet to create schedule," "budget," or "update supervisors..." even though these things will likely happen as well. 

0.0 Project Job Hunt
1.0 Define Job requirement
     1.1 Assess my skills (transferable and otherwise)
          1.1.1 Meyers Briggs
          1.1.2 Strengths Finder
          1.1.3 Ask colleagues for recommendations
          1.1.4 Soul Searching
     1.2 Define my job requirements (what is adequate?)
          1.2.1 Target employers
          1.2.2 Target job titles
     1.3 Informational interviews to refine target positions and employer

2.0 Locate Job opportunities
     2.1 Prepare targeted application materials
          2.1.1 Resume
          2.1.2 CV
          2.1.3 Cover letter
          2.1.4 Networking Brief
          2.1.5 Statement of research interests (?)
     2.2 Find sources for relevant jobs
          2.2.1 Update Job Board search clients
          2.2.2 Update CV/resume on file with job boards
          2.2.3 Contact Recruiters
     2.3 Network
          2.3.1 Ping network for opportunities
          2.3.2 Add to network though mixers and introductions

3.0 Secure the Job
     3.1 Prepare for interviews
          3.1.1 Practice Interviews
          3.1.2 Find nice interview clothes
     3.2 Prepare for negotiations on salary, benefits etc.
          3.2.1 Glassdoor
          3.2.2 Practice Negotiation
    *3.3 Apply for jobs
      3.4 Follow-up with applications
          3.4.1 Phone or email
          3.4.2 Use excel to keep these organized

*In the first version of the chart, I forgot this critical step.  Aha.

Notice which tasks end up in the project and which don't.  Working at my current job or taking contracts is not strictly in the scope of this project.  Blogging is beyond the scope of this project.  Taking the PM class is beyond the scope of this project.  None of these are bad things, but this does reinforce the notion that I seem to spend time on things that aren't getting me a job.  What the WBS contains are only tasks/deliverables that are essential to successful outcomes.  <== How business literate do I sound now?!

I have a certain skepticism that this rigid structure can work for nebulous projects where there are many uncontrolled external factors (I'm gonna have a hard time putting a deadline on this).  Research is another area that is hard to manage in this way.  Next up, we'll talk about risk.  For now, go ahead a gloat in that righteous feeling that 'if I'd done this in graduate school, I would have graduated in like 4 months!'  I'll revisit that (Spoiler Alert: that feeling goes away.)

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