Project Management - Sequence Activities Process

Once all activities have been defined in the process of “define activities”, you need to place them in order of precedence in the “sequence activities” process. Here, you essentially create a map/diagram that effectively illustrates the relationship existing between these activities and identifies the order or sequence in which they need to be performed. It’s important to mention that the schedule is not created during this process, and so at this stage, you need not assign any starting or finishing dates (or time frames) to these activities. 
Inputs for Activity Sequencing
The inputs for the sequence activities process include: activity attributes, project scope statement, activity list, milestone list, as well as organizational process assets. The activity list created by you contains your scheduled activities and has to be arranged in the order in which tasks/sub-tasks need be performed. The attributes of the activities chosen by you provide an additional insight into the activities that need to be addressed before others. Additionally, the milestone list offers you with the key milestones which might influence the overall order of all activities. For instance, to develop a timely, impact ful and user friendly interface for a software program that you are developing, you may need to finish the processes of shading and model rendering before going ahead with the same. 
The project scope statement goes a long way in ensuring that nothing goes amiss. More often than not, it influences the activity performance order. For example, if a project demands that a garden has to be opened to the public in the next two weeks, the manager might consider recruiting human resource personnel prior to organizing a volunteer-based event. The assets associated with the organizational process come in handy in case there is some relevant (prior) information that facilitates the prioritizing of these activities in a more efficient manner. 
Tools for Creating Activity Sequences
The activity sequencing process uses four tools: 
  • Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM)
  • Determination of dependency
  • Application of leads and lags
  • Schedule network templates
The PDM is typically a graphical representation of the activities list and defines the order in which the tasks/ sub- tasks need to be performed. Often showcased as a simple flow chart with arrows depicting the dependencies of activities, rectangles representing activities, and the units of duration written above the nodes, this diagram sets the precedence for determining the dependency of activities.
There are three kinds of dependencies: discretionary, mandatory, and external. A mandatory dependency, also referred to as hard logic, is always true and considered unavoidable; for instance, a hole has to be dug before concrete can be poured in to create a swimming pool. Discretionary dependencies, also known as soft logic, are not always true. They are best determined by an organization’s best practices, historical information, and expert judgment; for example, one may choose to slice a cucumber before a tomato for fixing a salad and the precedence could take place either way. External dependencies, though outside the project’s scope and control, are important enough to be considered; for instance, if the construction of your building requires strict compliance to certain regulations, you may have to address an external dependency situation if revisions are in the offing. 
Leads and Lags
In certain cases, an activity may get a jump start before another, or may incur a waiting period in between other activities; these situations are referred to as leads and lags. Leads occur when particular activities offer the required resources to begin a dependent activity, but are not quite finished; for example, a music event requires the tracks to be decided before recruiting a D.J. Here, a lead may take place if the organizers have prior knowledge about the genre of music that will be used to start their search for a D.J. proficient in the required genres; but then, the music has to be picked out beforehand. A lag takes place in case of a waiting period existing between two activities, for instance, a wait time is required for the wet paint to dry up completely, before decorations can be hung in a building’s interior.
Outputs for Activity Sequencing
The outputs from the activity sequencing process encompass the project schedule network diagram and any other project document updates that may be necessary. The network diagram merely represents the dependencies of activities and is not the schedule. The timeframes and schedules are developed through an altogether different process. The diagram may include the summary nodes of activities, or an entire representation of total activities--in line with the needs of the project. If summary nodes are used, enough documentation should be available to make sure that the basic flow of all activities is well understood.
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Author : Uma Daga

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Uma Daga