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  • Writer's pictureBill Holmes

Project Management Basics – Chapter 9 – Core principles of predictive projects

project, program, portfolio
You can't deliver a predictive project without change control!

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.” J.R.R. Tolkien

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Abraham Lincoln

A predictive approach is used when you know how to deliver the stated business benefits of the project.

This is “traditional” project management. A charter establishes high level scope, cost and schedule and the project manager (with the project team) develops a detailed plan that covers all aspects of project governance. Requirements are elicited and the performance baseline of scope, cost and schedule is established. The plan is “baselined”, meaning any requested changes must go through integrated change control where the potential impact is assessed against all parts of the project plan and product scope. Develop the plan, then manage to the plan.

There are core principles associated with a predictive project. Let's discuss those.

  • The project plan is baselined. Many people believe that we only baseline the performance baseline of scope, cost, and schedule. I disagree! I believe it is a best practice to baseline the entire project plan. This allows us to agree on how the project will be governed before the inevitable conflicts arise.

  • We perform integrated change control. The project manager has specifically delegated authority to make modifications to the project plan, but anything beyond that must be handled through integrated change control. The change request is submitted and the impact of both accepting and rejecting the change is assessed across all impacted aspects of the plan. If the change is accepted the plan is updated, re-baselined and all stakeholders are notified.

  • The 100% rule. All the product related work is included in the Work Breakdown Structure, and this rule is a cornerstone in controlling scope creep. If you have someone working on something product related that doesn’t map back to a work package, you have scope creep!

  • We use the performance baseline to forecast future performance. Earned Value Management (EVM) is nothing more than monetizing the projects work! We compare the value of the work completed to what we paid to accomplish it. Then we compare the value of the work completed to the expected value. Using those values and the Budget at Completion, we can forecast if we will be on schedule, on budget and any projected variances. This allows us to take corrective or preventative actions.

  • We conduct a structured review of our stakeholders. This review will help us understand the attitudes and information needs of the stakeholders, and in doing so serves as the basis of our Communication Management Plan. We then periodically reassess the stakeholders and determine the effectiveness of our communications.

  • We approach risk in a structured way. The Risk Management Plan describes when we conduct risk activities, the tools to identify risk, and definitions of probability and impact to assess risk. We also identify a risk owner and follow the plan in insuring that risk response strategy is effective.

I know this is a short list, but in my opinion these are the core principles that will help ensure the success of the average waterfall project.

Next I’ll discuss core principles of agile.


Sorry for the long delay between posts! This is a busy time at work and there are a lot of outside activities vying for my time. In addition to that, I took my first vacation in over a year, and it was incredible. I must compliment the travel industry for their COVID-19 related efforts. Well done! My website is continuing to gain subscribers weekly and traffic is steadily growing. Thanks for your support!

1 Comment

PMO Global Institute
PMO Global Institute
Jul 19, 2023

Hey there, project management enthusiasts!

I recently delved into Chapter 9 of the book "Project Management Basics," which focuses on the core principles of predictive projects. Today, I want to share my key takeaways from this chapter and discuss how these principles can contribute to successful project execution.

  1. Clear Project Scope: Predictive projects thrive on well-defined scopes. As project managers, it's crucial to establish clear project objectives, deliverables, and timelines right from the start. This clarity helps stakeholders align their expectations and enables better project planning.

  2. Detailed Planning: Predictive projects heavily rely on thorough planning. Break down the project into manageable phases, create a comprehensive project schedule, and identify dependencies to ensure smooth progress. A well-crafted project plan provides a…

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