Project Design Master Class

Registration and Information


Much as you design the software system, you must design the project to build it: from accurately calculating the planned duration, cost, and risk, to devising several good execution options, scheduling resources, and even validating your plan, to ensure it is sensible and feasible. This requires understanding the inner dependencies between services and activities, the project network, the staff distribution, and the expected efficiency and throughput. All of these challenges stem from your system design and addressing them properly is a hard-core engineering task – designing the project.

The Project Design Master Class will take you to a new level as an architect or a project leader. The class presents the IDesign Method, techniques and ideas that we have applied across hundreds of projects. You will master the core body of knowledge and skills required of modern software project design. IDesign will mentor you how to gain credibility and perfect communication with top management by providing real life, repeatable and workable options for the project – solutions that balance cost, schedule and risk. Practicing our techniques feels as if “the blinders are off”, gaining superiority over every aspect of the project. Students of the class refer to it as the most important week of their professional career.

Assuming no prior knowledge, the class covers the essentials of the critical path method and its adaptation to software projects. By modeling the project as a network you eliminate the bias and objectively calculate schedule and cost. You will understand the typical behavior of a project, how it is impacted by limiting resources and schedule, and what recurring techniques and approaches to leverage as you cope with constraints.

With these basics in place, you will proceed to see the IDesign Method approach for project design, which enables you to determine the best overall plan across architecture, schedule, cost and risk. The IDesign Method for project design converges on the best and even optimal solution for the project while eliminating gambling, death marches, wishful thinking, and expensive trial and errors. Next the class discusses additional project design techniques such as the project time-cost curve, schedule acceleration with network compression, and IDesign's original risk quantifying techniques. Since there are several design solutions for every project, some more aggressive than others, you must objectively measure the risk of each option and evaluate the project design solutions in light of risk, as well as cost and duration.

But no project plan survives unscathed the first day of execution – priorities, resources, deadlines, estimations and features will change, and you must constantly adapt the plan for the new reality. The class will show you IDesign’s techniques for closing the loop by tracking both progress and effort across developers and services, how to contain the impact of changes, allowing you to constantly stay on schedule and on budget, and meet your commitments.

The class ends with a comprehensive case study and walks through its various permutations in determining the best plan that will keep the project on time all the time, at the best risk and cost available. Moreover, the case study not only demonstrates end-to-end flow of project design across iterations, but it also teaches the thought process and rationale behind the decisions, our practical approach for using tools, how to integrate and compensate for the tools’ shortcomings, and how to utilize the IDesign templates.

While most training classes merely stack modules, focusing on a single topic at a time, the Project Design Master Class uses a spiral, and each iteration gains more insight across multiple topics, providing the motivation and objectives for the next iteration, thus mimicking the natural learning process. Each such iteration incorporates hands-on labs to cement the concepts and practice the techniques. In the class you will also receive the IDesign's original tools, metrics, rules of thumb, project design templates, and reference projects.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to learn and improve your project design skills with IDesign, and share our passion for excellence and project engineering.

Target Audience

Any architect, project manager, development manager or even aspiring senior developer wanting to grow their skill set would benefit greatly from the class. Certificate of completion for this course can be submitted to the Project Management Institute for up 40 PMP PDUs (professional development units).


Five very intense days.


Project Design Method Overview

  • Design granularity effect on the project
  • System design and the team
  • The fuzzy front end
  • The SDP review
  • The core team
  • Product life cycle
  • Service life cycle
  • Estimation techniques
  • Services integration plan
  • Staffing distribution
  • Scheduling activities
  • Viability and risk
  • Calculating cost
  • Tracking progress and effort
  • Roles and responsibilities

Essential Concepts

  • Project as a network diagram
  • Node vs. arrow diagrams
  • Identifying the critical path
  • Calculating floats
  • Floats and scheduling
  • Proactive risk management

Project Compression

  • Accelerating projects
  • Time-cost curve
  • Points on time-cost curve
  • The death zone
  • Cost elements
  • Staffing and cost
  • Activity compression
  • Project compression

Quantifying Risk

  • Risk and decision making
  • Risk curve
  • Risk and floats
  • Modeling risk
  • Criticality risk
  • Fibonacci risk
  • Activity risk 
  • Risk decompression

Project Design in Action

  • Architecture and dependencies
  • Complexity reduction
  • Adding activities
  • Staffing requirements
  • Planning assumptions
  • Network and resources
  • Staffing distribution
  • Floats analysis
  • Infrastructure and dependencies
  • Design with limited resources
  • Design with subcritical resources
  • The normal solution
  • Milestones identification
  • Project compression
  • Accelerating schedule
  • Throughput analysis
  • Efficiency analysis
  • The time-cost curve
  • Quantifying risk
  • Risk decompression
  • The risk curve
  • Risk crossover points
  • Preparing for SDP review

Additional Thoughts

  • General guidelines
  • Compression and resources
  • Planning and risk
  • Tips
  • Architect and team
  • Hand-off point
  • Team and productivity
  • God activities
  • Decompression target
  • Geometric risk
  • Tracking risk
  • Execution complexity
  • Common misconceptions
  • When to design a project
  • Design of project design
  • Very large projects
  • Small projects
  • Design standard
  • Scope, effort, time, perspectives
  • Design by layers
  • Antifragility
  • Project design and quality
  • Debriefing project design

Project Design Mini-Clinic

  • Project walkthrough
  • Planning assumptions
  • Normal solution
  • SDP presentations and review

Upcoming Classes

Project Design Master Class
IDesign principal Juval Löwy conducts this unique opportunity for architects and project managers to master the critical skills of project design.
10/21/2024 - 10/25/2024
San Jose, CA


If you are frustrated, lacking energy and demotivated after seeing and experiencing many failed attempts of our industry, this class is a boost of rejuvenation. more It takes you to the next level of professional maturity and also gives you the hope and confidence that you can apply things properly. And it is for both architects and project managers. You will leave the Project Design Master Class with a new mindset and enough priceless tools that will give you no excuse to ever fail a software project. You get to practice, you get your hands dirty, you get insight and experience. Yes, you CAN be accurate when it is time to provide your stakeholders with the cost, the time and the risk of a project. For a (too short) week it is also a great opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with your peers and work and learn together under Juval's legendary supervision. Now, just don’t wait for a company to send you to this class. If you are serious about your career, you should hurry to take this or any IDesign master classes. It is the best self-investment you can make.

Lucian Marian , Software Architect

The Project Design Master Class will have a greater impact on the time and cost of my projects than any methodology or technology that I have acquired to date. more This course gives you the ability to put forth multiple project designs that vary from least cost to least time and everything in between. You will learn how to associate risk with each project design option and give your organization a powerful platform to make sound business decisions. Understanding the real trends of the project and what corrective actions to take before things get out of hand will be invaluable to me as an architect and provide a tremendous ROI to my company. I highly recommend this class to architects and project managers who place value on completing their projects on time and on budget. Simply stated, you can’t afford not to attend.

John Caccavaro , Chief Architect of Research and Development

A short review is just inadequate in trying to capture the importance of the Project Design Master Class. more Rather than review the material or techniques, I would like to relate the value of the class. At the beginning of the class Juval Lowy stated that the Project Design Master Class would serve as a launching point to take the rest of our careers to a whole new level...and it did just that. By lunchtime on Tuesday I contacted my boss to let him know that we had already gotten our money's worth from the training. But as eye-opening and fruitful as the first day and a half were, the remainder of the week continued to expand upon the essentials, building in enough substance that we were comfortable doing our first project design by the end of the class. It may go without saying that any project manager regardless of background and seniority will benefit enormously from the IDesign techniques, approaches and insights. Additionally, any architect, especially graduates of IDesign's Architect's Master Class, owes it to themselves to do whatever it takes to attend this class. In my opinion, the Project Design Master was the single best use of training budget ever in my career of over 30 years.

Thomas Kurilla , Project Manager and Architect

Project Design Success Story
Summary: Completed project on time, on budget, and on quality. more

The project in question was an infrastructural messaging system. The system design was along the IDesign Method comprising of half dozen or so services and three separate public APIs… Continue reading here.

Will Anderson , Senior Software Architect

In the Project Design Master class, Juval proved software projects can be delivered on time and on budget you committed all the time. more This class was full of ideas, practical techniques and tools to do just that. Key to this approach is proper execution of the fuzzy front end where high level requirements and architecture lead to accurate estimate to produce multiple project plans. You then examine each project plan with regards to cost, duration, staffing, risk factor and efficiency. Juval also provided a standard model for staffing, quantifying risk and efficiency. Putting these together you can validate your project design against the standard model and common project deign patterns. When it is time to execute the project, Juval presented effective metrics acting as sensors to measure the health of the project and the threshold values to act and the typical corrective measures. I recommend Architects and Project Managers taking this class together. Thank you for providing us the "secret sauce" to be successful, every time, all the time.

Dinny Mathew , Software Architect

This unique class taught more about project design than I had previously learned throughout my entire career. more A deep dive into the methodology, combined with real-life examples and the ability to practice during the class to try out the newly learned technics made it a very intense and productive week. I am ready to help my organization to take software projects to the new level. The skills also nicely complement the knowledge from the Architect's Master Class. I am convinced this is the way to design modern software projects. It is important to note that while project management takes care of properly executing a project and is usually performed by the project manager, designing a project is an engineering task and as such it requires that both the project manager and the architect be involved and cooperate on the project design. This is why the class is a must for software architects as well as project managers.

Eugene Bilenko , Software Architect

The Project Design Master Class is life-changing event. more The class didn’t just teach modern project design; it has given me tremendous energy to take my career to a whole new level. I wish I had an opportunity to learn the project design techniques from Juval long time back. The knowledge I gained in those 5 days were immense and I don’t think I could obtain that much knowledge by reading textbooks or even by doing a PhD! I really enjoyed the mini clinic that was the class finale. It provided me an opportunity to realize that given the right set of tools and training (of course from IDesign!), project design and the follow up project management will be very easy! Thank you Juval, you are truly a legend and I thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.

Deepa Balasundaram , Application Development Coordinator

I have attended the">Architect's Master Class, the Architecture Clinic, the WCF Master Class, and even had a week-long project design working session with Juval (which was an absolute treat). During that working session I remember telling Juval that I was not sure that many architects who took the Architect’s Master Class would have the necessary skills to produce an accurate and well considered development plan. He was somewhat surprised by my thoughts on this, but apparently others have been whispering the same thing in his ear. Enter the Project Design Master Class. It was tremendously rewarding attending the Project Design Master Class, seeing that Juval has organized his experience and skills into a digestible insightful curriculum. All of the stressful unknowns and variables that can come at a project are in fact completely irrelevant to project design. There is no reason the be paralyzed! After going to the Architect’s Master Class, I knew *what* I had to do to succeed, I just didn’t really know how or even the finer points of why. The Project Design Master Class teaches a straight-forward way to mechanize approaching and producing the project design. For example, counter intuitively, you can and often must start the project design without knowing how many developers you’ll have and who is will be doing what activity. This class will teach you how to come up with the best options available, what tradeoffs to be aware of, what causes certain project death, as well as what matters and what does not to this stage of a project. Our job as architects is to create a menu of all good choices that management can consider. The class meets this goal and much more. Thanks to IDesign for the great and eye opening week!

Pat McCoy , Enterprise Architect - Applications

Prior to taking the">Architect Master Class (AMC) and the Project Design Master Class (PDMC), my company was attuned to past due and over-budget software projects that were usually riddled with bugs. We had come to accept that this was normal in software development. In other words, we were used to failure. After taking the AMC in 2010, we decided to apply a disciplined approach using the IDesign Method to an upcoming software development project. Over a year ago, we finished the project and our client has gone live on their brand new system. To this day, we haven’t gotten a single support call . We actually had to call the client to make sure that they were still using the software. Our team now has a proven method to deliver software. The PDMC complements the AMC by teaching us a methodology to design a project plan based on our software architecture. During the five day course, we learned about estimation techniques, quantifying risk, project staffing, planning and the math behind the mechanics of project design. It was an amazing five days with the IDesign team. We were given the secret ingredients to the project design sauce. After taking the AMC and PDMC, my company is now equipped with the tools to provide our clients with successful project delivery and software design. The IDesign Team and Juval Lowy are simply awesome!

Brennan Mann , Software Architect

I am the director of my company's Project Management Office (PMO). more The Project Design Master Class is truly an eye opening experience and gives an entire new discipline to augment commonly known project management practices. Having attended the class, I now know why past projects have failed and what needs to be done to make future projects successful. Great Project management alone is insufficient for a viable project. It takes designing the project to deliver complex software projects on time, cost and quality. This is the goal of our PMO, thus this battle proven class is an excellent resource in establishing guidelines and driving projects success. It is obvious why Juval is so well regarded as his knowledge is truly remarkable. The fact that he supplies templates to facilitate optimizing project design is invaluable as it enables you to hit the ground running by demystifying the process, associated data and calculations. I can highly recommend this project to any professional that is responsible for the success of project output but especially software development professionals that deal with highly complex systems. Down with agile, up with project design! I plan to use this knowledge to reshape my organization and accelerate the success rate of the company projects and my career. I can’t thank Juval enough for putting things in plain and simple terms and reminding us all of the responsibility we have to our organizations.

Brian Dillard , Director of Project Management

I am still raving to my colleagues and customers about what I learned. more The class has raised the bar of my own expectations of the success of software projects. Ensuring that the customer is happy at the conclusion of a major project is no longer good enough. Now I must deliver the project on time and on budget as well as delighting the customer. The class mechanises the project design process to the point that this is not only possible but repeatable. While the IDesign Architect's Master Class and Architecture Clinic give you the tools to design software systems the Project Design Master Class gives you the skills to deliver the system with all of the real-world constraints and limitations that we all deal with on a near daily basis. The class acknowledges these challenges faced by every architect and confronts them head-on. From designing the project to risk analysis to team management and stakeholder communication the class covers a wide variety of topics - all of which are essential to the success of a software project. I have already been able to apply many of the techniques learned to existing projects. Nothing beats having the confidence to present definitive project cost, duration and risk curves and numbers to senior management with the knowledge that you can back up those numbers and then deliver the project to your estimates. The long exercise on the real project at the end of the week was perhaps the most startling part - the estimates we calculated matched the other teams with an astounding level of accuracy - really proving the points of the class.

Peter Nieuwenhuizen , Architect

The Project Design Master Class fully delivered on its promises to take its attendees to the next level in their career as architects and project managers. more IDesign makes a compelling case for a consistent, structured, and mechanical approach to system and project design, navigating through complex issues such as staffing, team dynamics, life cycles, estimations, earned value, and project tracking with remarkable agility. The week can be likened to a crucible as ideas are challenged and impurities are burned away by invaluable insight into the behavior of projects as dynamic systems and how changing boundary conditions can dramatically impact the entire entity. Most impressive is a dead-simple method for evaluating a project’s risk and how to design the project in a way that provides phenomenal visibility by modeling the relationship between time, cost, and risk. The class culminates in a mini-clinic that allows students to practice project design and the soft skills need to present key deliverables to decision makers. While a lot of the topics (but not the material) can be found in traditional project management the value of this class is that Juval Lowy is, at heart, an engineer. And, with the Project Design Master Class, Juval has managed to take the mystery out of project design and reduce it to a completely mechanical engineering discipline. Any project manager that has ever tried to determine whether a given activity chain or project was “high” or “low” risk will immediately recognize the benefit to such a rock solid methodology that is also wonderfully demystified. As a project manager and architect, I cannot recommend this course more highly. For the novices this course provides all of the practical tools needed to effectively design and run a project, and for the veteran project manager it is an incredibly potent booster shot that you can’t afford to ignore.

William Anderson , Application Architect, CAPM

Even as a veteran architect and project manager, when it comes to project design your intuition often plays tricks on you. more One of my favorite aspects of the class is that in such cases not only does Juval prove you wrong, he also proves you’re right about many gut feelings you’ve always had. He takes those hunches and arms you with concrete definitions and a formal structure backed by real world experience. There are so many useful tools in this course that it would literally take me days to talk about them all! The Project Design Master Class is as much for software engineers and architects as it is for project managers because it is about engineering the design of a project that is then executed by project management. After this course you will look at all of your software projects (past, present, and future) in an entirely new perspective. Yes, this is a paradigm shift and a big reset for your brain. I took this course to transition my career to the next level and I am extremely grateful that I did. This course gave me a new insight about my projects, a set of tools and methods to provide accurate and timely estimates, and fundamentals about communicating with my managers.

Sebastian Fisher , Software Project Manager

The Project Design Master Class is a career changing event. more Having come from an environment where deadlines and budgets are almost pathologically abused, having the opportunity to learn from Juval was a godsend. Piece by piece he provided the parts and the appropriate tools for properly designing a project. The result is that costs and timelines are kept in check in the dynamic and even chaotic environment of modern software development. Juval says that you are going to engage in asymmetric warfare against overdue and over cost, and you walk away truly feeling that you have a gun to take to a knife fight. There is no magic – only the application of basic engineering and manufacturing tenets to software – but you will go back to your office feeling like a wizard.

Matt Robold , Software Development Manager

The Project Design Master Class flips the light switch on in an area that was once filled with complete darkness. more It is unlike any other training I have ever experienced. It builds nicely on the Architect's Master Class (though the Architect's Master Class is not a prerequisite). I especially liked the material learning method to hammer home additional details with every class iteration. The teaching is fast-paced, deep and often (intentionally) contradictory to what we were taught to believe in software engineering. The software world is not what it seems. This class is a MUST for anyone who wants to increase project success rates (across budget, schedule and quality) - and is even not necessarily limited to software projects. If you have a training budget, send your best here and make them leaps-and-bounds better. Then, trust them with their new experience. If you don't have a training budget, get one, and then make the IDesign classes a priority. There is no better source for improving resources.

Will Comeaux , Software Architect

The Project Design Mast Class was much better and much deeper than I anticipated. more We left the class with the tools and patterns to take our software project designs to an entirely new level. I was expecting PMP for software projects, and in a respect we got that… on the first day. The rest of the week was learning to address project design as an engineering task unto itself (with real world patterns, tools, and heuristics). The “final” lab was great – hands on design and executive presentation of a sample project. The process brought everyone together, highlighted the lessons from the week, and facilitated additional insights. We have started applying the patterns and practices already, and it is clear we are a greatly improved organization as we progress down this path.

Hants White , Software Manager

The Project Design Master Class is a fusion of theory and practice distilled into a teachable and repeatable methodology. more The project design process creates multiple good project options so that the organization can identify the best project design that will fit their needs. You simply replace the vague and nebulous concepts of project management with objective, clear, and concise measurements. This in turn ensures that the project is delivered on time, on budget, and on quality, within the defined scope as well as within the defined risk tolerances. Juval Lowy masterfully illustrates what works, what doesn’t work, and as importantly if not more so, why it is the case. The class provides real world exercises so that you can gain the experience while still at the class. After the class you get access to tools and support and private discussion forum on the Alumni. I highly recommend this class to anyone that is responsible for project delivery and is ready to take their career to the next level.

John Erickson , Digital Strategy Projects Vice President

Prior to taking the Project Design Master Class I had always suspected that there has to be a better approach to project design than the voodoo methods I was exposed to. more That hunch was more than confirmed as Juval expertly lead the students in a spiral of knowledge acquisition. Using the architecture output from system design as input to the process, the class advanced from relatively basic project design techniques to the more advanced capabilities of identifying the risk level of a project, network compression, risk decompression, and crashing. To succeed in delivering projects on-budget, on-time, every time one must have a project design that is achievable and the Master Class gives you the tools to create and assess project designs that meet these criteria. Every technical career professional owes it to both themselves and to their company to take this course.

Fintan van Ommen Kloeke , Enterprise Architect

I see many others have testified about the value of the class, so I wanted to relate specifically to project design and Agile. more If like many you practice Agile but you know your project success still falls shorter than it should, this class is for you. You will get to know the power of “Good Agile” by combining project design and agile for a superior result. To the understanding of the mechanics of project design you add quantifying risk and its impacts on the project setup, the sprints and the possible project outcome. These engineering techniques will allow you to repeat your Agile project success over and over again. In an adaptive Agile environment you need to also learn how to continuously communicate the results and risks successfully. If this is what you are looking for, the Project Design Master Class is for you and it will enable you to truly succeed in your project and career.

Theo Jungeblut , Customer Success Manager

The software project I work on was plagued with breakneck deadlines for years. more I thought “agile” was the cure for my deadlines but it only achieved faster chaos and more pain. Trying to understand software development methodologies and proper process felt like an energy drain because I had to battle management’s unwillingness to change on top of meeting the unreasonable demands of my clients. I was fighting a war on two fronts and felt hopeless. I felt like a rōnin. The Project Design Master Class provided a rush of clarity I never knew existed. It taught the exact knowledge I was searching. I learned profound techniques that transformed my understanding of how software projects operate. Juval elegantly wove a rich tapestry of historical context for software and project design to which I was absolutely oblivious. I now have tools to efficiently and effectively navigate my project in a torrent of never ending requirement changes. In a world of chaos this class brought order. I am forever grateful to IDesign. My life will never be the same.

Aaron Friedman , Software Architect

A trusted colleague recommended IDesign to me, claiming this would be the most productive week of education in my career. more The Project Design Master Class delivered on that promise. In a class full of people who are usually the smartest in a room, the explosion of light bulbs going off was blinding. This seminar opens a world at a level of project design that you did not even know existed beforehand. Each concept is backed up by real world examples and the tools and templates you need to get started back at the office. What puts this class over the top is that Juval understands the politics behind projects and he goes over how to implement these processes in your organization. Another benefit of the class is access to the alumni discussion group so the learning doesn’t stop when the class ends.

Nathan Karp , Senior Development Manager

The Project Design Master Class over-delivered on every promise it made. more As the second half of the IDesign Method, it resonates explosively with the System Design from the Architect's Master Class, giving you objective ways to determine feasible project options in advance. Juval showed us how a project is a living, breathing, dynamic entity, and a finicky one at that. Starving, overfeeding, and neglect are all fatal. With so many paths leading to failure, you need a compass pointing to repeatable success. Project Design is that compass. In so doing, the IDesign Method actually puts the Engineering into Software Engineering, with metrics for complexity as well as risk, plus guidelines for detecting and preventing all sorts of failures in order to start a project on track and keep it there. And it can pair with Agile practices, transforming them from chaos into a healthy process suite.

Todd Gleason , Software Architect