Applied project management and project-based learning (PM4Y-02)

Once again, how to apply project management in the real world? We will continue with PM4Youth and focus on applied project management, using a project-based learning approach. However, before we get into the case study (next post), we will share a quick lesson with my boys. The first lesson was to help my eldest son Sumer to plan the next stage of his University Project.

This article will be short and with mostly a few images.

The Stage

The background, the upcoming stage in the University Project is the final transition from high-school to the university, which includes moving from Lebanon to Texas, USA. This stage will cover all of the work to go from today until starting college in late August.

The Planning Process

We have not been documenting all the stages of the project, so what we will document here is only this stage, starting with identifying all activities and completing them.

The first step

The first step was to explain to Sumer and Akkad[1] the difference between a PBS and WBS; product breakdown structure and work breakdown structure. However, the emphasis was on the WBS.

Step 2

Step 2 was a brief brainstorming session, with a focus on the high-level elements. The next rough photo shows this output of this step. Apology for the small board and rough pictures, we are working in the house and living room.The main element for WBS after an initial brainstorming

Step 3

Step 3 build on Step 2 and is about categorizing these elements so we can group them; the output is the next picture.

Categorizing the elements

Step 4

Next, we moved to develop the initial WBS, as you can see next.

The Initial WBS

Notice the following: in the earlier picture, we had three categories. However, when we put those categories into a WBS format, we identified a fourth branch, financials, top right corner.

At this point, I explained to my teens that this is only high-level and some of these elements could be broken down further and that is reflected in the red marker in the picture.

Step 5

It is was time to end the lesson, and send Sumer to work on his own

  1. To transfer this WBS to a nice WBS, using an online tool and he decided to use an Online Mind Mapping tool.
  2. Next, he needed to expand to the best of his abilities.
  3. Prioritize the various activities using three-time spans (1) work he can complete in the next few weeks while he is still in Lebanon, (2) actions upon arrival in the USA, and (3) the final actions around the time he would start college.

He was asked to complete this work today, which he did and the result is in the next image. The red flags represent the high priority actions that he should complete in the next 4 to 5 weeks.

High-School to University Transition Stage | Project Management for Youth

Step 6

Sumer to review this work with his coach (yours truly – Dad) and the big boss (Mommy) so we can help him identify any gaps and finalize the initial plan.

Special Comments

Notice we did not get into cost estimating, network scheduling, quality, risk or other items. We want to limit the focus of today’s session to only Planning using WBS and a high-level split of activities along three-time spans. We will do more in the case study.

Maybe a future post can discuss the implementation but not sure yet.


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[1] Sumer and Akkad are my sons, Sumer is almost 18 while Akkad is almost 15.