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Multilevel Project Structure

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  • Multilevel Project Structure

    I use a hierarchical scheme to structure projects:

    • domain = {admin, art & creativity, art & culture, body, finances, food, home, legal, medical & health, mind, office, people, spirit, travel, utilities, work}
      • workstream
        • project
          • tasks (next actions)
    For example:

    • domain : art & creativity
      • workstream : writing
        • project : "Momentum" short story
          • tasks (next actions): review EM's comments on version 1
    • domain : admin
      • workstream : organizing
        • project : restructure project structure hierarchy
          • tasks (next actions): query David Allen GTD forum for suggestions
    I've implemented this system in Outlook by creating Task, Calendar, and Journal Item forms with fields for domain and workstream in addition to fields for Project and Action provided by the Outlook GTD Addin.

    I've found this structure very useful not only for structuring projects but organizing and coordinating the Six Level Model. The domains also correspond to my physical and electronic filing systems.

    However, I'm outgrowing this four-level structure and am looking to add another level. It's most helpful for my particular cognitive style if the levels have names as opposed to numbers ('level 1', 'level 2', and so on) or prefixes (e.g., sub-, super-, meta-, uber-, hypo-, hyper- ).

    One possibility is 'activity'.

    I'd appreciate any suggestions for (1) where in my hierarchy I might insert a new level and (2) what I might call it.

    Many thanks.
    Last edited by mscudder; 07-13-2005, 11:50 AM.

  • #2
    I would suggest changing your current structure, as pictured here:

    domain : art & creativity
    ..workstream : writing
    ....project : "Momentum" short story
    ......tasks (next actions): review EM's comments on version 1


    domain : art & creativity
    ..workstream : writing
    ....division: Prose
    ......project : "Momentum" short story
    ........tasks (next actions): review EM's comments on version 1

    I don't know if "division" is the right name, but I think the new level would logically fit in that position, or maybe one slot higher. It should be positioned above where you feel that you have too many items. I think you can incorporate this into your current structure.

    Your approach reminds me of the scientific classification of plants and animals with the following levels: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. I guess since the names are practically arbitrary anyway, you could copy that naming convention and it would work.

    I personally prefer a flexible structure that an outliner can afford and I take a project out to as many levels as needed, but not necessarily the same number of levels as other projects. And I do not have names for the levels. But I guess my cognitive style is different.

    I think a pure GTD approach would be to have a flat project list (but with the possibility of subprojects).


    • #3
      I just posted about this in the other forum on a slightly different thread. Basically I structure projects that relate to higher objectives so I can see the big picture:

      Level 1: Roles
      Level 2: Areas of Focus
      Level 3: Goals
      Level 4: Projects
      Level 5: Next Actions

      These are similar to the altitude levels mentioned in the book, which is what I think you are trying to do here.


      • #4

        For what it's worth, I came upon these definitions of some project management terms from the Wideman Comparative Glossary of Project Management Terms, Version 4

        activity A task or set of tasks that are carried out in order to create a deliverable It should be noted that the term "activity" is used as a collection of tasks, synonymous with task or as a subset of a task. It is recommended that a "task" should be thought of as a subset of "activity".

        component A subsystem, assembly, subassembly or other
        major element of an end item. A non-trivial, nearly independent, and replaceable part of a system that fulfills a clear function in the context of a well-defined architecture. A component conforms to and provides the physical realization of a set of interfaces.

        discipline The sequence of activities performed in a business that produces a result of observable value to an individual actor of the business.

        element A basic component e.g. of the work breakdown structure. Level 3 of the system hierarchy

        function A set of related actions, undertaken by individuals or tools to accomplish a set purpose or end.

        objective A concrete statement describing what the project is trying to achieve. The objective should be written at a low level, so that it can be evaluated at the conclusion of a project to see whether it was achieved or not. A well-worded objective will be Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable, Realistic and Time bound (SMART). Something one wants to get done.

        process The set of activities required to achieve an output. A series of actions, changes, or functions bringing about a result. A set of interrelated work activities in which value is added to the inputs to provide specific outputs.

        program Any one of: 1. A portfolio of projects selected and planned in a coordinated way so as to achieve a set of defined objectives, giving effect to various (and often overlapping) initiatives and/or implementing a strategy. 2. A single, large or very complex project, or 3. A set of otherwise unrelated projects bounded by a business cycle. A broad effort encompassing a number of projects. A set of projects with a common strategic goal. The umbrella structure established to manage a series of related projects.

        subproject A small project within a larger one. A group of activities represented as a single activity in a higher level of the same. A distinct group of activities that comprise their own project which in turn is a part of a larger project. Sub-projects are summarized into a single activity to hide the detail.

        task A cohesive, individual unit of work that is part of the total work needed to accomplish a project. A subdivision of an activity.

        work item A portion of the project that can be clearly identified and isolated. [Synonymous with activity?]

        work package A deliverable at the lowest level of the work breakdown structure. A work package may be divided into activities.