Factoring in Reserve Time

Parkinson's Law states: "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." This little nugget of wisdom is oh-so-true. Consider a project team member who knows an activity should last 24 hours. The team member decides, in his own wisdom, to say that the activity will last 32 hours. These extra eight hours, he figures, will allow plenty of time for the work to be completed should any unforeseen incidents pop up. The trouble is, however, that the task will magically expand to require the complete 32 hours. Why does this happen? Consider the following:

Hidden time Hidden time, the time factored in by the project team member, is secret. No one, especially the project manager, knows why the extra time has been factored into the activity. The team member can then "enjoy" the extra time to complete the task at his leisure.

Procrastination Most people put off starting a task until the last possible minute. The trouble with bloated, hidden time is that people may wait through the additional time they've secretly factored into the activity. Unfortunately, if something does go awry in completing the activity, the work result is later than predicted.

Demands Project team members may be assigned to multiple projects with multiple demands. The requirement to move from project to project can shift focus, result in a loss of concentration, and require additional ramp-up time as workers shift from activity to activity. The demand for multitasking allows project team members to take advantage of hidden time.

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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