Thursday 14 April 2022

Peer review in project management


The article deals with the theoretical aspects of conducting expert assessments, as well as practical applications in organizations.

Keywords: expert assessment, project management, work content, duration of operations, project resources, project materials

In general, project management is based on evaluation. When planning a project, evaluations are required in all sections of the project plan:

  • Contents
  • Duration of project tasks
  • The need for human resources
  • Need for materials

PMI's project management methodology refers to the following evaluation methods:

  • Peer review
  • Evaluation by analogues
  • Parametric evaluation
  • Three-point score
  • Let's consider the practical application for each section of the plan of the listed methods.

Content of works

– a list of works that must be performed to achieve success. Let us agree to call the structure of works a set of content, the hierarchical structure of work and the connections between them. Strictly speaking, the structure of the work is also the result of an assessment. Due to the fact that the structure of the work does not reflect any quantitative indicators, then from the point of view of evaluation methods, perhaps, it is possible to apply only expert evaluation and evaluation by analogues (the structure of work in such projects). Other methods work only with quantitative estimates.

Two different project managers, who independently make up the work structures of the same project, will have a different result. In technically complex projects, the project manager is not able to independently draw up the content of the work, so he must attract specialists, including the intended performers. In general, the structure of work should reflect the following components:

Components of the resulting product. For example, if the project for the construction of a house, then its components will be the foundation, walls, roof, decoration.

Technological processes by which the final product will actually be obtained. For a house under construction, this is a sequence of technological operations: Digging a pit, driving piles, preparing reinforcing structures, pouring concrete. It is the sequence of operations and their duration that is important.

Management work. Management work is always present in all projects, but often they are not taken into account in the structure of work, which can lead to unaccounted and unplanned time losses, to the absence of key persons at the required time. When building a house, such works can be: planning, filling out reports on the volumes performed, filling out applications for materials, equipment and specialists, instructing performers, quality control, reporting.

Legal Terms. If the project is carried out for an external (relative to the organization) customer and / or with the involvement of contractors, it is important that the structure of the work reflects the key contractual stages. For example, the construction of a house can be carried out under a contract, with a prescribed phasing: Stage 1. Pit, Step 2. Foundation, Step 3. Wall. Phasing can be reflected in one contract, it can be reflected in different ones, but from the structure of the work it should be clear under what legal conditions the work is performed.

All components can be represented in the form of hierarchical structures
Variants how to combine four hierarchical structures there are a great many, but the most common of them are:

Option 1. The main purpose is to monitor the execution of the contract with the
customer Option 2. The main purpose is to control the resulting product / product

Ideally, if the structure of work can be dynamically transformed to any hierarchical structure, then the problems of controlling all four components are solved. Professional" there are four hierarchical reference books for each component, when forming the structure of the project's work, it is possible to add components of these directories, while the components are transformed into project tasks. Each project task can be linked to all four directories. With a set of special reports for each section of the project plan, it is possible to obtain a "twisted structure" for the desired component, for example, to build a cash flow plan for the components of the product, to assess the profitability of each component of the product, to assess the laboriousness of each element of the technological cycle in the hierarchy, to assess the laboriousness of management work and project costs.

It is important to understand that, in general, the approach to building the structure of the project in a particular organization will be individual and may differ from similar organizations in the same industry. Moreover, over time, this approach should change, as the surrounding conditions change: its own knowledge base is accumulated, the experience of good decisions and mistakes appears, the staff becomes more qualified, new employees come, customers are more demanding of reports and control, competitors are more effective. We recommend periodically reviewing and adjusting/clarifying approaches to the formation of the structure of work.

If your organization is just planning to start applying a project approach, then you should start with a simple structure: Stages of work of profitable contracts-structure of the product. At the first stage, this will already give a tremendous effect on understanding how the project will be implemented. Over time, the need to detail the structure of project work will manifest itself - answers to more detailed and specific requests will be needed:

  • Why there was a failure of the deadlines, how many critical (significant from the point of view of the organization) changes in the project plan were;
  • Where did the timing of the work come from;
  • How much time is spent on preparing reports on the project, how to manage it;
  • Why the actual costs did not coincide with the planned ones, which was not taken into account;
  • Compare projects with each other on identical works/components;
  • And so on.
  • The main rule when building the structure of work is that the structure of work should reflect all the events and work that are important from the point of view of control. If the event/work is not significant, then it is not necessary to include it in the structure of the work. For example, if a contractor or a separate structural unit is responsible for the performance of work and from the point of view of the project his service is obtained in full, then there is no point in detailing this work to its component parts - this will only weigh down the structure of the work, add the need to plan each component, keep records of the actual data on it. Often it is simply physically impossible to get from the performers of the task.

Milestones in the project work structure are desirable, but not mandatory. Basically, checkpoints are needed for the following purposes:

Enter external events for the project. For example, obtaining documentation from the customer, completing the work of another project, completing the repair of key equipment, receiving an advance payment from the customer. 


After such an event, certain works begin. The scheduler initially assumes the date of the event and builds all dependent tasks on it. If the event does not occur on the expected date, the scheduler enters a new estimated date based on external data and recalculates the dates of all dependent tasks. This method allows you to conveniently and quickly update the timing of tasks.

A control event for the performance of work for the control of the project by higher management. The director or head of the project office uses milestones as a high-level slice of the project for regular monitoring. If the milestone is overdue and not completed, you need to intervene and check if the project manager is okay on the project. It is not recommended to overload the structure of the project with control events, since the control of the highest level "and whether we have time to do the project on time" and the control of the timing of the project stages, in principle, is decided by comparing the terms of the basic (contract plan) with the terms of the current plan.

Duration of project

tasks Estimation of the duration of project tasks is possible according to all the methods described. Let's take a closer look at each of them.

Expert assessment is a classic universal method when an expert evaluates the duration of the operation. The project manager, executor or individual employee performing this function can also act as an expert. There are several important points in who exactly performs the expert assessment:

Interest (positive or negative) of the expert in the results of the project. 

The initial assessment is the most important, since it depends on whether the project will be in principle or not. If the assessment is performed by a person who is interested in the project being launched, the assessment may be underestimated. A similar situation is if a person is not interested in launching a project or, conversely, is interested in increasing the duration of the project, the assessment may be overestimated. There may be persons interested in launching and not implementing the project (in terms of timing or finances), then an underestimation will be given in the hope that the project will start and will fail. The reasons may be different, but this must be taken into account. It is possible to neutralize the influence of interest by collecting several assessments from different experts. We will talk about this in a separate section of this article.

Independence of the expert. 

In principle, dependence/independence is very similar to interest/disinterest, but differs in that the expert can be indifferent to the presence of the project in the organization in principle, but in the event of its beginning, so to speak, to hedge his bets. As a rule, this is true for performers whose motivation system is tied to their own assessments. Perhaps in this case, the assessment itself will be an assessment of the complexity of the task, but the laboriousness in principle is easily converted into a duration.

Purity of evaluation.

It is important to understand that the expert may or may not take into account the additional costs of completing the task when assigning an assessment. For example, if a programmer evaluates the TK, then he may not take into account the time for testing, documentation, demonstration and delivery to the customer. It is important to understand who is making the assessment and to stipulate in advance the purity of the assessment. The project manager can change the estimate (usually upwards), since he takes into account additional labor costs and, accordingly, the duration. When requesting an assessment, tell the evaluator what to include and what not to include in the assessment, or ask for a transcript.

Analog assessment 

in general, not much different from the expert one, as it boils down to the ability of the expert to draw analogies between two different projects and convert the duration of a previously executed project to a planned project. It should be remembered that comparing projects as a whole and comparing parts of projects are not the same thing, as there may be significant dependencies between different parts of projects. For example, if we build absolutely identical houses in the same cottage village, then the terms of construction of cottages in such a village will be similar, but it is already difficult to call it a project, because the product (cottage) ceases to be unique, while the village itself is a project. If we build a new village, in which there will be different cottages and one of them will be the same as in the previous one, then the timing of its construction will be similar, but may also differ significantly due to logistics, priority, materials. This must be taken into account when evaluating by analogues. In general, this method is well combined with expert assessment - the received expert assessments are compared with previously performed similar projects and, in case of significant deviations, an analysis of the causes is carried out.

Parametric estimation

in fact, the method is also based on expert assessment, but to which various mathematical operations are applied. Most often it is used in the case of obtaining an easily measurable result (in meters, tons, pieces) and is practically not tried on, where the result is not measured in advance (documentation, program code, articles).

For example, 

the operation of digging a pit of 10 * 10 meters and a depth of 2 meters with a resource capacity of 20 cubic meters. meters per hour will require 10 hours. Actually, the expertise of the assessment lies in the assessment of the performance of the resource.

Evaluation at three points (PERT) - similarly based on expert assessment, but the assessment is carried out not in a single version, but in three:

  • Pessimistic
  • Optimistic
  • Realistic

The essence of this method, by and large, boils down to understanding how much a particular expert who makes an assessment assumes deviations from his realistic estimates. However, it is necessary to remember about the interest, independence, purity of the assessment that the expert gives.

In general, the method is useful primarily from the point of view of introducing performers (experts) to thinking critically, to take into account various aspects of the performance of work, to take into account risks and the degree of their influence on the progress of work on the project.

Human Resource Requirements Most project

tasks require human resources to perform. Actually, these are those whose forces perform the work, and these are not only employees, but also machines and mechanisms used to perform work.
It should be understood that any work in the project has the opportunity to perform on your own (the personnel resources of the organization) or buy from another organization (give it to a contract / subcontract). The decision to do the task on your own or buy is not trivial and depends on the following factors:

  • The ability to perform work on your own in principle from the point of view of the law (for licensed activities);
  • Availability in the organization of resources (labor and equipment) that can perform the required task;
  • If there are resources, whether there are enough of them for the required period of the task;
  • Profitability of performing the task on its own or on a contract basis
  • Repeatability of this type of work (if the work is one-time or very rare, then it is not profitable to perform on your own);
  • Warranty obligations for work (as a rule, warranty work is done on its own at the expense of the organization, and those performed by the contractor - at the expense of the contractor);
  • Availability of contractors of the required qualifications;
  • Risks of working with a contractor (there is no operational control over the implementation, its loading);
  • Seasonal and weather restrictions on the performance of work;
  • The strategic position of the organization in the market (perhaps it is impossible to give work for a contract, as this will be the support of competitors);
  • Miscellaneous.
  • In order to assess the need for resources on a particular task, it is necessary to determine the composition of resources and estimate their required quantity. This task can have not one, but many solutions, since there can be several resources capable of performing the same work, but with different performance and different costs.

The quantity estimate can be expressed in different units, but the most correct and convenient unit is an hour of working time for the following reasons:

  • Separation of the concepts of labor intensity and duration (80 hours can be done in 2 weeks by 1 person with an 8-hour working day or, if possible, two in 1 week). In this case, the estimate in hours is decoupled from the calendar and the amount of resources that are usually not known at the time of the assessment;
  • Ability to convert labor intensity into duration with a given number of resources and a working calendar;
  • Possibility of conversion to the cost at the rate of 1 hour;
  • The ability to apply parameterized evaluation and through productivity to express also in the required hours of working time. In this case, the productivity is expressed in some units per hour;
  • It is also convenient to collect factual data in hours (convenient from the point of view of timesheeting, verification of received reports and their approval), which additionally allows for a plan-fact analysis of planned labor costs.

In general, methods and their combinations can also be used to estimate labor costs:

  • Peer review
  • Evaluation by analogues
  • Parametric evaluation
  • By task duration, number of resources, and calendar (as long as the task lasts, how many resources work)
  • By resource performance, their quantity and the required volume of output (some measurable products)
  • Three-point score
  • Material Requirements

Some project tasks may require materials that are consumed for production. Their list and volume estimate are determined similarly to labor resources. Part of the materials can be purchased for a specific task, and part can already be bought and stored in the warehouse, respectively, a reserve is needed.

The need for materials is the starting point for calving supplies. Based on the need, suppliers are searched, tender procedures are carried out, and supplies of goods that can be delivered for a long time are planned.

The ideal option is to apply a combined complete approach to each task, that is, to make assessments by various methods (expertly, by analogues, parametrically), to perform an assessment by several employees and each of them would make 3 types of assessment (realistic, pessimistic and optimistic). But in practice, this is an extremely expensive option.

Types of assessments

Depending on which phase the project is in, different types of assessments are required. In principle, the following types can be distinguished:

  • Order assessment - used for rough analysis to make a fundamental decision whether a particular project is interesting or according to the main parameters it is not worth doing (both for the contractor and for the customer). The best method for such an assessment is an assessment by analogues, because it is not time-consuming, but gives an idea of the main parameters of the project;
  • Contract valuation is an assessment that is made to draw up a commercial offer and subsequently it should form the basis of the contract. On its basis, contract versions of project plans are created and fixed. An extremely important assessment, since the overall success of the project and its profitability for the organization depend on its fidelity and accuracy. The best option is a combination of all evaluation methods;
  • Operational assessment - an assessment that is compiled and clarified in the course of the work. On its basis, operational plans of the project are created, updated and recorded. By comparing with contract plans, you can understand the deviations of the main parameters of the project (timing, cost, amount of resources and materials).

In conclusion. 


It is worth noting the importance of collecting estimates when planning projects from implementer. 


In principle, the evaluation procedure itself is already of great benefit to the organization, because the performers think about how they will do the work, how much time and resources they will spend on it. In practice, evaluations are often not collected at all or the evaluation is carried out only at the stage of selling the contract, but the performers do not participate in the evaluation. 


Remember, the ability to evaluate is a key skill in project management.

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