Use These Two Techniques for Managing Schedule

Sunday, January 25, 2015, 6:00 AM | Leave Comment

There are many great techniques that help you manage the schedule on your project. It’s not just dates that you as project manager assign to project activities.

The schedule also includes matching the resources of equipment, materials and labor with project work tasks over time.

Good and workable scheduling can eliminate problems due to production bottlenecks. It facilitates the timely procurement of necessary materials insuring the completion of your project as soon as possible.

Use These Two Techniques for Managing a Schedule

In contrast, poor scheduling can result in considerable waste of money as laborers and equipment wait for the availability of needed resources and thereby the completion of preceding tasks.

The two techniques widely used are the following:

  1. Investigate Further When ‘Completed’ Activities Are Not Really Completed

    Sometimes a team member says that an activity is complete when in reality it is not quite done. This can happen for the following reasons:

    The activity should have been completed and the team member believes he needs just a short amount of time to complete it.

    He might say it is complete and then finish it up quickly, rather than deal with the consequences of the activity being late.

    A deliverable is ’completed’ by the team member but not approved. The team member may say the work is complete, but when the deliverable is checked it is discovered that it is incomplete or needs additional follow-up work.

    To avoid this, make sure that there is an approval process for all major deliverables, and that the schedule leaves time for the approval process and for updates based on feedback.

    Then there is no question that the deliverable is completed, because it has either been approved or it hasn’t.

    If an activity does not call for the total completion of a deliverable, you would expect that when a team member says an activity is completed, it probably is.

    If you find a pattern of this not being the case, the individual team member might need coaching on how to better report the status of his work.

  2. Use the Concept of Triple Constraint to Manage Cost, Schedule and Scope

    At the end of the planning phase you should have an agreement with your sponsor on the work that will be completed (Charter/Scope Statement), the cost (or hours) and duration that are needed to complete the work (the schedule).

    These three items form a concept called the “triple constraint”.

    If one of the three items change, at least one, if not both, of the other items need to change as well.

    This is more than an academic discussion. The concept actually has great relevance to the management of the project.

    The triple constraint makes logical sense and can be easily explained to your clients as well.

    This concept is easy to visualize if you think of the triple constraint as a triangle, with the sides representing cost, duration and scope of work.

    For example, if the scope of work increases, the cost and / or deadline must increase as well. This makes sense.

    If you have more work to do, it will take more cost (effort) and perhaps a longer duration.

    Likewise if you reduce the scope of work, the cost (effort) and / or the deadline should decrease as well.

    Similarly, if you are asked to accelerate the project and complete it earlier than scheduled, it would also be logical to ask for less work.

    However, if you are asked to deliver the same work in less time, the third leg of the triple constraint (cost or effort) should increase to maintain the balance.

    You will need to increase costs (effort), perhaps by working overtime hours or perhaps by bringing in more resources to complete the same amount of work earlier.

    Once the project manager really recognizes this relationship in the triple constraint, he will automatically recognize when one leg changes and instantly look for ways that the other legs will change to maintain the triple constraint balance.

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This column is © copyright to and originally appeared in their weekly project management tip newsletter.

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