A schedule is an expression of the tasks and activities to be performed along a time line. Two main methods of describing a schedule are in use today, namely, (1) a Gantt Chart and (2) a program evaluation and review technique (PERT) Chart. Figures 3.2 and 3.3 show examples of these types of schedules. Both figures are constructed for a hypothetical project of eight principal tasks that involve selecting commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software for use by a project team. Such software might be, for example, a project management package or some other package (e.g., geographic information system, executive information system) that would be needed by a project team.
Both figures map the tasks against a time line for the eight weeks of the total project. The Gantt chart is quite straightforward and easy to read. Each bar represents a single task. The PERT chart is somewhat more complex but is also simple to grasp. Each circle represents an event—a specific point in time at which a measurable activity is either started or completed. The lines between the events are activities during which resources are expended to achieve the designated end event. Further details regarding how a PERT chart is developed are provided in Chapter 4. However, one major point is that the PERT chart places in evidence the longest path through the network, which is known as the critical path. By definition, all other paths are at most as long as the critical path. Those parallel paths that are shorter have ''slack''
Analyze project requirements u
Examine project environment
Define COTS alternatives
Select alternative m
Purchase software m
Document system operation m
Time, weeks Figure 3.2. Example of project schedule.
in them. Slack represents an opportunity for moving some tasks or subtasks forward or backward to utilize resources in more efficient ways.
The schedule for a complex project can literally take up the space of an entire wall. The schedule in the program plan should be an overview schedule, emphasizing major tasks and milestones. Too much detail is not warranted in an overview project plan. A full computer-generated schedule might be included only as an appendix to the plan.
The schedule must be ultimately consistent with the customer's delivery requirements. This applies to interim dates as well as the final project completion date. To the extent that the schedule drawn up by the project team does not do this, it has to be continually reworked until all customer requirements with respect to the schedule are met. If this is not possible, then the plan is not viable and there is an impasse that must be negotiated and resolved before work can begin.
Time, weeks Figure 3.3. Example of a project PERT chart.
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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.