3. The ASPICE-Processes (VDA Scope)

3.11 MAN.3 – Project Management

What is the purpose?

A project is planned and controlled in order to achieve its objectives, taking into account all requirements and constraints. Project objectives generally refer to at least quality, cost and deadlines.

What is the benefit?

Good project management enables timely detection and correction of deviations. Through appropriate communication, all relevant stakeholders are involved.

What is the content?

  • The scope of the project is defined (BP1). This can be done by identifying boundaries of the project and its constraints. Also it shouldcover the motivation.
  • A project lifecycle model suitable for the scope of the project is defined (BP2) and consistency is provided to the customer processes (e.g., by mapping customer mile-stones to the model).
  • Technical feasibility needs to be checked but also whether the suggested timing plan makes sense, the budget is sufficient, and whether the organization will have the resources required in the timeframe planned (BP3).
  • Activities are derived from the WBS considering both the life cycle model and the effort estimations. Dependencies between activities are established. Progress monitoring and ongoing changes lead to many adjustments throughout the project (BP4).
  • Effort and resource estimation (BP5) usually starts on WBS level and is then broken down to the activity level when activities are being derived (see BP4). Resources include budget, people and infrastructure. It is expected that estimation methods are used. Estimations need to be monitored (i.e., are they still sufficient) and adjusted throughout the project.
  • The schedule is set up, monitored, and maintained (BP8). This involves assigning people to activities.
  • Required skills, knowledge and experience are identified (BP6) in parallel to BP4/5/8. Suitable people are acquired in time and/or it is assured that the people available meet the requirements (through training, mentoring, self-study, etc.) This needs to be in line with the estimates.
  • The interfaces within and outside the project are determined. This involves mainly meetings and reporting. Commitments are determined, either in the plan, schedule, or elsewhere. It is made sure that interfaces and commitments work as planned and necessary adjustments are made throughout the project (BP7).
  • The various planning documents are ensured to be consistent across all parties involved and throughout the project (BP9).
  • Project progress is regularly reviewed and reported to all relevant parties. This covers work progress, timing, and effort consumed. Recurrence of problems needs to be prevented (BP10).
Typical representation of a project schedule with bars and their dependencies
Typical representation of a project schedule with bars and their dependencies

Experiences, problems and hints

  • Work breakdown structures presented in assessments (if they ever exist) are often incomplete because most of the non-engineering topics are missing. The same is true for estimations.
  • “A lifecycle model consisting of three phases is not nearly sufficient and needs to be much more detailed, e.g., showing all delivery cycles, each of them with a partially or fully formed V-model (even though the V-model may be the most popular approach ASPICE allows for other models).
  • The size of activities on the lowest abstraction level should be typically somewhere between one day and one or maximum two weeks. If they are too small the complexity is not manageable, if they are too large risks are increasing. However, the level of granularity decreases for far away activities (“rolling wave planning”). Detailed planning is less practical for work tasks the further out in the future that they occur, instead create and maintain detail tasks for the current release and maybe one or two more releases. Follow those detailed release plans, with less granular tasks to the end of the project.
  • Quite often expert estimation is used. However, typical weaknesses with these are ball-park estimations (“10 numbers for an entire project”), incomprehensible methods, poor justifications, and estimations done in the beginning and never changed.
  • Typically inconsistencies arise between the work breakdown structure, the estimates, the schedules, and the work capacity available (as shown in the schedule and in the staffing list) across all teams. This is extremely difficult because of the great many changes. Projects that manage to keep the work breakdown structure, the estimates, the schedules, and the work assigned to activities in one common tool have a realistic chance to get this done.
  • It is often overlooked how to address answering the most basic of questions for project management: “Do we have enough resources to finish the work we are committed to complete by the next deadline?” If this cannot be answered easily then the planning system is insufficient.

Automotive SPICE text of Project Management (MAN.3)

The purpose of the Project Management Process is to identify, establish, and control the activities and resources necessary for a project to produce a product, in the context of the project’s requirements and constraints.

BP1: Define the scope of work. Identify the project’s goals, motivation and boundaries.

BP2: Define project life cycle. Define the life cycle for the project, which is appropriate to the scope, context, magnitude and complexity of the project.

NOTE 1: This typically means that the project life cycle and the customer’s development process are consistent with each other.

 BP3: Evaluate feasibility of the project. Evaluate the feasibility of achieving the goals of the project in terms of technical feasibility within constraints with respect to time, project estimates, and available resources.

BP4: Define, monitor and adjust project activities. Define, monitor and adjust project activities and their dependencies according to defined project life cycle and estimations. Adjust activities and their dependencies as required.

NOTE 2: A structure and a manageable size of the activities and related work packages support an adequate progress monitoring.

 NOTE 3: Project activities typically cover engineering, management and supporting processes.

 BP5: Define, monitor and adjust project estimates and resources. Define, monitor, and adjust project estimates of effort and resources based on project’s goals, project risks, motivation and boundaries.

NOTE 4: Appropriate estimation methods should be used.

 NOTE 5: Examples of necessary resources are people, infrastructure (such as tools, test equipment, communication mechanisms…) and hardware/materials.

 NOTE 6: Project risks (using MAN.5) and quality criteria (using SUP.1) may be considered.

 NOTE 7: Estimations and resources typically include engineering, management and supporting processes.

 

 BP6: Ensure required skills, knowledge, and experience. Identify the required skills, knowledge, and experience for the project in line with the estimates and make sure the selected individuals and teams either have or acquire these in time.

NOTE 8: In the case of deviations from required skills and knowledge trainings are typically provided.

 BP7: Identify, monitor and adjust project interfaces and agreed commitments. Identify and agree interfaces of the project with other (sub-) projects, organizational units and other affected stakeholders and monitor agreed commitments.

NOTE 9: Project interfaces relate to engineering, management and supporting processes.

 BP8: Define, monitor and adjust project schedule. Allocate resources to activities, and schedule each activity of the whole project. The schedule has to be kept continuously updated during lifetime of the project.

NOTE 10: This relates to all engineering, management and supporting processes.

BP9: Ensure consistency. Ensure that estimates, skills, activities, schedules, plans, interfaces, and commitments for the project are consistent across affected parties.

BP10: Review and report progress of the project. Regularly review and report the status of the project and the fulfillment of activities against estimated effort and duration to all affected parties. Prevent recurrence of problems identified.

NOTE 11: Project reviews may be executed at regular intervals by the management. At the end of a project, a project review contributes to identifying e.g. best practices and lessons learned.

Output Work Products

Project plan, Communication record, Change request, Review record, Corrective action register, Schedule, Work breakdown structure, Stakeholder groups list, Project status report.

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