8.2 Modelling a project

 If we have good principles, the next step is to have good processes and tools. The first question is to how to model the project. Based on a sound modelling good processes and tools can be elaborated. That’s why the most important parts of a project management methodology is:

  • How to essentially represent a project and
  • Which viewpoints (scope, cost, etc.) are the most relevant ones.

In this section a general model for projects is given. The project management triangle identifies the most important parts of a project: scope, time and costs. All of these factors can be viewed as a tree structure, where the root is the project itself and the other nodes can be defined, for example, in the following way:

  • Scope tree: the inner nodes represent parts of the final product/result (systems, subsystems, etc.) while leaf nodes represent simple, elementary components.
  • Time tree: the first levels represent milestones and sub-milestones while the lower inner nodes represent task/activity groups, i.e. the leaf nodes represent concrete tasks with deadlines.
  • Cost tree: the inner nodes represent cost categories with summarized costs of its parts, i.e. leaf nodes represent concrete items with costs.

One tree may have an internal “logic”, e.g.

  • In the scope tree we may have dependencies between the components, therefore the scope tree is much more like a graph than a tree.
  • In the time tree the elements (e.g. milestones) form a well-defined order based on the dates

Moreover, the different trees are heavily interconnected:            

  • The time tree organizes tasks/activities according to the milestones and deadlines, and delivers parts of the final result/product i.e. it is related to the scope tree
  • The cost tree gives the “price” of a certain task, in this way it can be used to calculate the price of a certain milestone, or a certain system (it is related to scope and time tree)


Figure 8.3: Different views and interconnections of a project


There are other important factors of a project: resources, risks, quality, procurement, organization, etc. which all can be represented with a dedicated tree as well, with their own internal logic, and interconnection with the trees. Usually, “mixed” views can be formed where information related to multiple factors is shown in one view. Typically, the scope tree is a root for new “mixed” views. For example, time related properties can be shown as attributes of the scope tree nodes (e.g. deadline and milestone attribute) as well as cost can be represented as an attribute. Still, the other views remain indispensable, e.g. only a resource view can show the workloads of a worker: which projects and tasks she is working on at a given time. The “mixed” views convey the risk of communication problems and misunderstanding between different stakeholders, therefore these views have to be clear for everybody.

This way we may have tens of interconnected trees that may make even a very simple project to be relatively complex, not to talk about inherently complex and big projects. The different project management methodologies try to define how to represent and view a project efficiently and effectively with their own modelling scheme focusing on some identified key/important parts, terminology and process steps.


Impacts on software applications

 Software applications for project management give flexible solutions and leave the user to setup and customize the user interface as he wants because:

  • Most of the project management methodologies give frameworks and templates instead of strict rules – this way remaining widely applicable
  • Some projects need specific combination of different methodologies, tools and protocols

Therefore, it is important to know and have a picture about how projects can be modelled generally.


The views have significant effects on the whole project and on how it is organized and communicated. For example in case of PRINCE2 Project Board is responsible for the Project, Project Manager responsible for Stage(s), Team Manager(s) responsible for Work Package(s).


The views also have effects on the communication and visualization of project results, a good example for that is the Gantt chart. It shows the progress of different tasks and stages. Therefore the choice of how we structure our project is very important and critical.