Identifying the Tasks and Activities

Identifying the Tasks and Activities

As explained in "Creating the Work Breakdown Structure" building a product-oriented work breakdown structure (WBS) involves decomposing a large activity (the whole project) into successively smaller activities (top-down approach) until the work is explained in detail to manage properly. On the other hand, it includes brainstorming everything that requires to be done as detailed activities and arranging them until enough are present to execute and manage the work (bottom-up approach). In either case, identifying the right activities for the work is very important.

The triple constraint for any project (scope, schedule, cost) is mostly dependent on getting the scope right because it generally drives the schedule and cost of a software development project. In "Software Size and Reuse Estimating" we'll see how the product-oriented WBS is the primary determinant of the scope and cost portions for software projects, as product size is the primary determinant of effort for software, an intellectual product. In this section, we explore the identification of tasks and activities that software engineers use to produce the elements of a product-oriented WBS, and we study how to arrange them for best effect in the life cycle models explained in "Selecting Software Development Life Cycles".

The tie to the software development life cycle models will be done through a series of checklists. Once the project manager has decided on a life cycle model, these checklists can be used to identify tasks and activities.

Where We Are in the Product Development Life Cycle

Where are we in the basic software life cycle model that serves as our map? As shown in "Selecting Software Development Life Cycles" Figure, and in following Figure (a), we are still at the beginning of the software life cycle and are deeply involved in the what step of project planning, as shown in following Figure (b).
Product Development Life Cycle

Project Process Framework

"Identifying the Tasks and Activities" Relation to the 34 Competencies

This section is relevant to the competencies shown next. For identifying tasks and activities, the key product development technique required is an awareness of the processes of software development using different life cycles. Life cycles must be evaluated and tailored to the individual needs of each project. A general understanding of software development activities (software engineering) and how to describe the software product are competencies required for task and activity identification.

The project management skills required here are a continuation of those required for building the WBS, such as documenting plans in an arranged structure and finding tasks and activities that can be used to create a schedule. Activity ID requires the people skills of leadership, interface, and communication, and the ability to present ideas effectively throughout the identification process.

Product Development Techniques

1. Assessing processes - Defining criteria for reviews

3. Defining the product - Identifying customer environment and product requirements

4. Evaluating alternative processes - Evaluating various approaches

9. Tailoring processes - Modifying standard processes to suit a project

11. Understanding development activities - Learning the software development cycle

Project Management Skills

12. Building a work breakdown structure - Building a WBS for a project

13. Documenting plans - Identifying key components

18. Scheduling - Creating a schedule and key milestones

People Management Skills

26. Interaction and communication - Dealing with developers, upper management, and other teams

27. Leadership - Coaching project teams for optimal results

31. Presenting effectively - Using effective written and oral skills

Learning Objectives for "Identifying the Tasks and Activities"

Upon completion of this section, the reader should be able to:

●  Define a task and an activity, describe the difference between, and tell which is used where;
●  Prepare a meaningful activity label;
●  List several sources for software engineering activities;
●  Demonstrate the ability to map activities to each of the life cycles discussed in
    "Selecting Software Development Life Cycles"
●  Identify the characteristics of a useful and meaningful activity for a WBS;
●  List at least three common types of activities found in every software project;
●  Explain how to construct a customized WBS;
●  Find at least five uses of the same activity among the life cycles presented in
    "Selecting Software Development Life Cycles"
●  Use the checklists provided to identify tasks and activities in different software development
    life cycle models.


wbs, software project, life cycle, software product, project management skills
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