Project Management Practices Building in a Buffer

Building in a duration buffer is a method that many project managers use as a contingency against project risk. Some say that the durations should be as "real" and accurate as pos sible, already taking into account any possible risk. Others say it just isn't realistic to believe that you can account for all possible problems while you're still in the project plan ning processes. To build in a buffer, also known as reserve time, you can do one or more of the following:

• Add a percentage of the duration itself as a buffer to each duration. For example, if a duration estimate is 10 days, adding 10 percent of that as a buffer makes the dura tion 11 days.

• Add a fixed number of work periods (hours, days, or weeks) to each duration.

• Add a "buffer task" close to the end of the project, with a duration that represents a percentage of the total project duration.

• Add a buffer task close to the end of the project, with a duration that represents a fixed work period; for example, two weeks.

You might not want to tell your resources about the buffer. (Work always expands to fit into the available time!) You can publish individual task deadlines to resources, but publish your post-buffer deadline to management.

The reserve time can later be reduced or eliminated as more precise information about the project becomes available. For example, suppose you initially enter a duration of 5 days to set up the accounting system. Later on, more concrete information indicates that it will actually take 8 days. You can "transfer" that time from your buffer without pushing out your project finish date.

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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