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I want to train a few new team members in the use of Microsoft Project. All are familiar with the basics but I want to explain WBS hierarchy and predecessors. I am trying to think of an 'every day life' example of a project that most people would agree on the contents and logic so we can use this to build a plan together. I have used 'cook a meal' previously, but would prefer something over longer timescale.

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    Although this is a potentially list-generating question, I think it's an interesting one, since a good supporting example is essential for people to focus on the concepts being explained without the structure used to explain them getting in the way. – Bogdan Feb 22 at 18:01
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I think the best example would be building a house (image source):

enter image description here

Although people might not have built houses before, they have seen it happen at some point or another, and there is a good familiarity with the concept since we all live in houses :).

And it's also a good model to use because it allows you to go in as wide or as deep as necessary to explain various concepts. There are also dependencies between each part (since you can't build the walls without a foundation, or the roof without the walls, etc), you might need to add buffers to your schedule (because of the weather, for example). There is also procurement of materials, if you want to throw that in the mix too, and so on.

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I suggest you choose an example that is relevant to the business domain that your team are expected to deal with. WBS and schedule makes sense for some kinds of work but not so for others. For example it's not usually a good idea to use WBS for software products; Product Breakdown Structure makes much more sense.

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Pick an example in your business domain with all different task dependency types

You said:

I want to explain WBS hierarchy and predecessors

Pick an example in your business domain, but make sure you bring in all different task dependency types.

  • FS (Finish-To-Start) Dependency: This is the most common dependency found in any project. Task A must finish in order for Task B to start. So, you don't have to think hard to find this one.
  • FS (Finish-To-Start) Dependency with a lag: This is not that common. For example, you can't paint a wall immediately after plastering. You have to wait until the plaster is dry.
  • SS (Start-To-Start) Dependency: For example, the writing of a business proposal must have begun in order for review/editing of the proposal to start.
  • FF (Finish-To-Finish) Dependency: For example, electrical work cannot finish until drywalling is complete.
  • SF (Start-to-Finish) dependency: This is a very rare one. For example, start of the next shift of the security guards has to happen for the previous shift to end. If the next shift security guards don't turn up, the previous shift security guards have to continue their duty.
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Modernization of a bathroom or kitchen. Easy to visualize.

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