Richard J. Bocchinfuso

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." – Oscar Wilde

FIT – MGT 5113 – Week 4


Discussion Question: Bottom-up cost estimating determines a project will cost $35,000, while top-down estimating determines the same project will cost $10,000. What specifically can the project manager for the project do to help reconcile these two budget estimates? (p. 144 of Project Management Textbook)

Bottom-up cost estimating engages functional teams in the project planning process, including level-of-effort estimation for tasks which they are responsible or possess subject matter expertise. Because functional project teams are often where the subject matter expertise resides, leveraging bottom-up estimating for specific tasks can hone the estimate and reduce risk, but querying the functional subject matter experts and rationalizing estimates also takes time. (Side note: A protracted timeline for developing a project estimate can put a project at risk. A slow reaction time may cause the project to be put on hold, if it’s a competitive situation you may lose the project due to slow reaction time, etc…) Top-down estimating relies on upper management to set objectives and communicate them to the project manager who then translates objectives into a project plan, assigns resources, sets the schedule, etc… Top-down estimating can typically move faster, but effective top-down estimating relies on prior experience and work product which can be used to estimate the current project.

As a project manager, a $25,000 differential in estimates would cause me concern. Given that I have access to both the top-down and bottom-up estimates, in this case, I would examine and reconcile the phases and tasks of the project to identify the discrepancies. As the project manager, I would then have a dialog with both the functional team(s) and/or upper management as a result of my analysis. With the estimations being so far apart something was likely overlooked or misunderstood in the estimating process.

Top-down estimating is a valuable approach to derive a rough order-of-magnitude (ROM) cost estimate quickly. The ability to promptly estimate costs while ensuring that the project goals align with upper management’s objectives and strategic direction has made top-down estimating popular, but many organization leverage a hybrid approach which utilizes bottom-up estimating to refine top-down estimates.

With all that said, the accurate estimate likely resides somewhere between 35K and 10K. Executive and upper management are managing to a budget and outcome while functional team members are conservatively managing time to execute tasks to deliver an outcome. Upper management’s fiscal focus can often lead to lofty expectations which don’t strike a realistic balance time, money and outcomes. Functional teams can often be-be overly conservative on task duration and/or resourcing which drives up the cost of the project (too much time and/or resource = too much money = unhappy executive or a dead project). It’s the job of the project manager to reconcile and manage (sell, especially to upper management) realty.


Back to Basics (8): Top-Down Versus Bottom-Up Project Planning. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2018, from

Black, F. W. (2002). Top down-bottom up project management. Paper presented at Project Management Institute Annual Seminars & Symposium, San Antonio, TX. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Portny, Stanley E.. Wiley Pathways Project Management, 1st Edition. Wiley Higher Ed. Kindle Edition.

Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up Project Management Strategies. (2017, June 01). Retrieved January 31, 2018, from

What Are the Differences Between Bottom-Up & Top-Down Estimating Approaches? (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2018, from



Evaluate the network diagram in Figure 6–18 on page 196 of the Project Management Textbook.  In each box, the letter on the left is the name of the activity, and the number on the right indicates the activity duration in days. Use the forward and backward pass to figure out the earliest start time, earliest finish time, latest start time, and latest finish time at each activity. What is the critical path in the diagram in Figure 6–18?  What is the duration of the critical path? Check your work against Figure 6–19 on page 197 of the Project Management Textbook

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Week 4 Exam (#2):  95%

FIT – MGT 5113 – Week 3


Discussion Question #1:  Research Agile Project Management Methods and specifically how it can benefit an IT Project.

First off, my apologies for the very late post this week. Been traveling and crushed by the flu.

Two of the most popular project management methodologies are Agile and Waterfall.

Waterfall is a traditional project management approach where phases and tasks are approached in a linear progression. Waterfall is a disciplined approach to project management which maps the entire project and timeline from beginning to end.
While the rigid waterfall approach has benefits around maintaining timelines and budgets, it can be difficult to accommodate changes throughout the project.

Agile is a project management philosophy which was first defined in the 2001 paper entitled The Agile Manifesto. Agile focuses on loosely defined objectives and short, measurable phases called sprints. Sprints are like mini-projects that concentrate on quickly producing a rough representation of the goal, the Agile methodology then iterates to work towards a final product.

Because it can be difficult to define all the needs and requirements of an IT project, Agile has emerged as a popular project management philosophy for IT professionals. Agile is especially popular in the areas of software development and DevOps. The pivot from large-scale monolithic applications with long release cycles to microservices (The Twelve-Factor App), continuous integrationdelivery, and deployment has lent itself to the Agile philosophy. Agile focuses on adapting to change and shifting priorities throughout the project lifecycle. Agile is focused on delivering the best product to the user community.
Agile is rooted in philosophy more so than a paint-by-number roadmap, so it often requires dedicated and self-disciplines teams to execute well.

I like “The Blue Botton Moment” as a way to depict the behavioral differences when comparing Waterfall to Agile.

Waterfall Blue Button Moment:
Agile Blue Button Moment:

I believe the “The Blue Botton Moment” captures the essence of Agile; it also highlights the challenges that can arise from having a team which is not dedicated and self-disciplined.


Alex Cowan and the Venture Design process. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2018, from

Continuous Delivery. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2018, from

Manifesto for Agile Software Development. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2018, from

Portny, Stanley E.. Wiley Pathways Project Management, 1st Edition. Wiley Higher Ed. Kindle Edition.

Waterfall vs. Agile: Which Methodology is Right for Your Project? (2017, August 14). Retrieved January 28, 2018, from


Discussion Question #2:  As the project manager over a virtual team, what communication plan will be put in place for interactions between project team members interacting with each other and project team members interacting with you as the project manager?

Again, I am very sorry for my tardy post this week.

In my opinion, virtual teams have become the new norm, especially in IT. Open Source software is written primarily by virtual teams. As someone who manages and embraces the idea of the virtual team and someone who believes it will become increasingly difficult for organizations who believe that physical presence provides an advantage, there is one word or trait that I think defines the most successful virtual teams, it is purpose. There is no doubt that communication is critical when managing a virtual team but communication is the result of virtual team members who are both purposeful and self-disciplined.

Linus Torvalds commands a virtual team of ~ 10,000 developers, committing ~ 3,500 lines of code each day to the Linux kernel which is already ~ 15 million lines of code. This is a virtual team driven by purpose. Linus conducts this team from a walking desk in his home (

There is a video entitled “RSA ANIMATE: Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us” does a great job outlining what is different today than say even ten years ago.

The Open Source statistics are truly staggering, and all this incredible software is being built and contributed to by virtual teams across the globe.

With the above said some practices and tools can be used to enable virtual teams. Some of these are standard practice, and some are my personal beliefs.

  • Have a defined, well understood and unanimously bought int shared purpose.
  • Leverage the technology at your disposal.
  • Technology like Google Hangouts, Slack, Gitter, Hipchat, Git, Google Docs, Pivotal Tracker, Cloud9, StackExchange, etc…, etc… These technologies were built for and by virtual teams.
  • Integrate gamification and keep team members engaged.
  • Conduct a synchronous or asynchronous daily stand-up.
    • What did you accomplish yesterday?
    • What are you working on today?
    • Is anything standing in your way?

My team makes extensive use of video chat, we collaborate using Google Docs, we collaboratively code using Cloud9, we track our projects in Pivotal Tracker, and we frequently communicate on Slack. Everything we do is visible on ChatOps (Slack). Commit code to a Git branch, it shows up on Slack. Kick off a build and deploy it shows up on Slack. Working on something you post what it is on the #the-railroad channel, the system does some analytics and sentiment analysis and logs what it is you are working on, are you happy, sad, angry, etc… sends you words encouragement, etc… The idea here is always to keep people engaged.
We also do virtual standups via Slack. We try to embrace tools and elegantly use them to foster the productivity of virtual teams, realizing some people do their best work between 12 AM and 6 AM while others do their best work between 6 AM and 12 PM.

I often have the conversation about how I would rather have five people always connected via a mobile and capable of doing self-directed work than five people showing up at the office from 9 to 5. For me, the success of virtual teams all comes down to a purpose-built culture. There has to be transparency; everyone has to know what they are working towards and how critical their role is.


Agile Project Management. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2018, from

AWS Cloud9 Amazon Web Services. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2018, from

Build software better, together. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2018, from

HeyTaco! (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2018, from

Portny, Stanley E.. Wiley Pathways Project Management, 1st Edition. Wiley Higher Ed. Kindle Edition.

RSA ANIMATE: Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. (2010, April 01). Retrieved January 28, 2018, from

Standup Bot: Running Slack’s fastest standup meetings. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2018, from

Slack. (n.d.). Where work happens. Retrieved January 28, 2018, from



Develop Gantt chart (by entering in a work breakdown structure) in MS Project for any project (landscaping, construction, information technology, fundraiser event, etc.).  Be sure to select a project that has at least 5 tasks with a minimum of 10 subtasks in the work breakdown structure.

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FIT – MGT 5113 – Week 2


Discussion Question: At a pharmaceutical firm, researchers are assigned to clusters of diseases (mental health conditions, autoimmune diseases, neurological diseases) rather than to a specific drug research project. What might be some of the benefits of organizing the firm’s research efforts in this manner? (p. 72 Project Management Textbook)

A PMI conference paper entitled Complexity of project management in the pharmaceutical industry, clearly outlines some of the challenges facing pharmaceutical firms. According to this research, pharmaceutical firms struggle with regulatory and compliance requirements which are becoming increasingly more stringent, the increasing cost of R&D efforts and the competition from the generic drug producers. To combat the growing regulatory requirements, rising R&D costs and the ability recover R&D costs due to competition from generic drug producers pharmaceutical firms focus on streamlining communication and coordination between internal functional teams. Organizing research efforts by disease clusters may provide a structure where broader functional organizations can more easily identify synergies. The ability to identify synergies is one way to offset the rising cost of R&D.

By finding developing efficiencies through the identification of synergies and streamlining communication and coordination pharmaceutical firms can shorten the drug-development cycle and ultimately bring drugs to market faster. Organizing efforts by disease clusters may create the opportunity to identify and reuse existing compounds reducing the phase of drug development which pharmaceutical firms call drug discovery.


Drug discovery. (2018, January 15). Retrieved January 17, 2018, from

Pattanaik, A. (2014). Complexity of project management in the pharmaceutical industry. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2014—EMEA, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Portny, Stanley E.. Wiley Pathways Project Management, 1st Edition. Wiley Higher Ed. Kindle Edition.



Complete Project 1-4 on page 35 in the MS Project 2013 book

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Week 2 Exam (#1): 100%


FIT – MGT 5113 – Week 1

Discussion Question #1: As a project manager for an electronics manufacturer, you are supposed to design a new, low-cost MP3 player in three months’ time working with a “virtual team” of three technicians. Because outcome, schedule, and resources are all interrelated, what are some options you might consider if you suddenly lose two of your technicians? (p. 24 Project Management Textbook)

  • Assuming the three resources initially assigned to the project all possess the same subject matter expertise the simple answer would be to extend the project schedule by 3x.  Assuming there are some interdependencies between tasks serializing tasks may not extend the project schedule by 3x but there are many unknown variables so for the sake of argument, and in the interest of brevity I’ll just assume a 3x factor applied to the schedule.
  • Look at project funding and the value of on-time delivery and potentially engage contract labor to help offset the loss of the two technicians.
  • Review the project plan and the desired outcome.  Are there trade-offs of compromises willing to be made that might impact resourcing and scheduling?
    • On a personal note, this is something I do daily as part of an Agile project management methodology.  Managing sprints and a backlog daily against project burndown forces us to shift priorities often and delicately balance scope, defects and an ever growing backlog.
  • Look at resourcing and potential efficiencies that might help offset the loss of the two technicians.  Are there other stakeholders, like the project manager, the functional manager, executive and upper management who can play a more active role in the project to offset the loss of the functional employees.

Portny, Stanley E.. Wiley Pathways Project Management, 1st Edition. Wiley Higher Ed. Kindle Edition.


Discussion Question #2: As a project manager of a new team that’s developing an online shopping site for a traditional department store, you have been asked to calculate how much your team will spend on user testing in the next 12 months. Your team has never conducted user testing, so this is an unknown. How might you respond effectively to this unknown? (p. 54–55 Project Management Textbook)

  • While the team has not performed acceptance testing in the past, it is possible that the team has performed integration, unit, smoke and regression testing.  While acceptance testing (or UAT) may have more dependencies than other testing methodologies, the team may have a basis for estimating UAT.  Documenting assumptions and limitations and leveraging tangential knowledge from different testing methodologies may allow the project manager to develop a cogent estimate.
  • Leverage best practices, industry standards, existing protocols, and frameworks.  Acceptance testing is a standard software development phase, and an online commerce site is a standard web-based application so the project manager may be able to leverage industry standards and best practices to estimate the amount of time which will be spent on acceptance testing.
  • If there is no basis at all for estimating how much time will be spent on acceptance testing (an unknown unknown), no way to apply assumptions or limitations to some basis of an estimate then the project manager may have to say there is not enough information available to provide a cogent estimate.  The project manager might set the expectation that the schedule and resources for acceptance testing information will be forthcoming as more data points become available.  The project manager may also create a schedule placeholder and inform stakeholders that the schedule will be adjusted as information becomes available.

Portny, Stanley E.. Wiley Pathways Project Management, 1st Edition. Wiley Higher Ed. Kindle Edition.