Planning timescales and budgets

The product flow diagram is a necessary foundation for planning time and cost. Although it does not include a timescale, it does provide a clear delivery order for the products. Figure 7.6 shows a simple product flow diagram that can be used to produce a timescale and budget for the project.

Because effort has gone into developing the product flow diagram, the dependencies should be reliable. If they are not, the costs and timescales may be flawed.

The duration and costs of development for each product must be estimated. It is usual to create an estimating sheet containing most of the information on which the Gantt chart (see Figure 7.7 on page 122) and resource plan will be based. A sample estimating sheet might look like Table 7.1 overleaf.

The estimating sheet is product-based, but the tasks required to deliver

A simple product flow diagram

A simple product flow diagram

Table 7.1 Sample estimating sheet

Product

Tasks

Resources

Cost

Assumptions

Product 1

Develop

PR

G.8

PR took this long on previous project

Review

ST/MW

G.5/G.5

Constrained to half-day as slot for teleconference is already booked

Amend

PR

G.25

PR took this long on prev'ous project

Approve

PSG

G.1

Assuming PSG will approve wa e-mail

Product 2

Develop

AK

G.5

Based on 0.1 per item x 4 items, plus contingency of 0.1

Review

PR/MW

G.1/G.1

Estimate based on MW experience

Amend

AK

G.25

Based on need to rework half original

Approve

PSG

G.1

Assuming PSG w'II approve wa e-mail

Product 3

Develop

PR

G.8

PR took this long on previous project

Review

ST/MW

G.5/G.5

Constrained to half-day as slot for teleconference is already booked

Amend

PR

G.25

Assuming quarter of product to be reworked, plus contingency

Approve

PSG

G.1

Assuming PSG w'II approve via e-mail

Product 4

Develop

AK

G.8

AK estimate based on experience

Train fare

$1GG

Costs to visit trade show

Review

ST/MW

0.25/0.25 ST estimate based on experience

Amend

AK

G.25

Assuming quarter of product to be reworked, plus contingency

Approve

PSG

G.1

Assuming PSG will approve via e-mail

Note: Costs are in person-days when not monetary.

Note: Costs are in person-days when not monetary.

the products will be estimated. This is why they appear in the next column. The third column requires the project manager to suggest who should undertake the task. As the plan is not yet anywhere near complete, it is unlikely that the project steering group would allocate any people to the project other than the project manager. Therefore, the names or initials in the third column indicate the people the project manager wishes to secure. If names are not known, it may be sufficient to state what skill type is required, for instance, a junior analyst or a senior business specialist.

Human resources are not the only cost that must be identified. Although people may be the most significant investment, other costs attributed to the project must be included, such as travel, accommodation, materials and equipment. In a larger project, it is usual to have many human and non-human costs, so knowing the person or resource type and having some robust prior knowledge about the product (the product description) make it possible to estimate these costs.

In Table 7.i, the fourth column (identifying the planned costs) is a mixture of two expressions of cost: financial (the cost of going to the trade show) and effort (every other figure). Since the project steering group will want a set of financial figures, these two forms of expression will need to be combined into one single financial figure. This will happen soon when the resource plan is developed, but the non-financial effort figure is needed first because it will not be possible to calculate the duration without it.

Duration is a period of time, measured in hours or days. Effort is the time it would take a single, average person to complete the task if able to work at 100% productivity all the time, unfettered by any other work or distraction. Effort is measured in person-hours but people are rarely, if ever, able to sustain periods of any significance in which they can work at 100% productivity. Furthermore, many people are assigned multiple tasks, sometimes combining other project and business-as-usual work. Therefore, allowing for a productivity rate of 80%, the duration allocated for a four person-day task would need to be five days, provided that person has no other concurrent tasks.

Understanding effort in this way allows work to be spread across a number of people. For instance, four person-days do not necessarily need to be delivered by one person. They could be shared and, potentially, reduce the duration of the task.

The last column of the estimating sheet is where planning assumptions, which often remain in the project manager's head, are logged. The plan, of which the estimating sheet is a part, must be able to stand on its own without needing a project manager to present it. It must be self-contained so that anyone reading it has all the information they need.

Now there is sufficient information to create one of the most familiar depictions of a project plan, a Gantt chart. This describes the plan's duration and was developed by Henry L. Gantt in 1910. He produced many different charts which caused others to take an interest in what was a revolutionary way of communicating a message, but the type of chart commonly used today was refined in 1942. Figure 7.7 overleaf is an example based on the estimating sheet.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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