You worked with the stakeholders to document the activity list last week. After creating the first draft of the project schedule network diagram, you went back to each of them to ask for time estimates for each of the activities. Ricardo's estimates are shown here:
1. Procure the T1 connection. This takes 30 to 45 days. This activity can be done concurrently with the other activities listed here. Ricardo will perform this activity.
2. Run Ethernet cable throughout the building. This activity depends on the lease being signed and must finish before the build-out can start. The estimated time to complete is 16 hours, which was figured using parametric estimating techniques. Ricardo has one person on staff who can complete this specialized activity. His first available date is October 5.
3. Purchase the router, switch, server, and rack for the equipment room and the four point-of-service terminals. Delivery time is two weeks. Ricardo will perform this activity.
4. Install the router and test the connection. Testing depends on the T1 installation at demarcation. The time estimate to install is eight hours. Ricardo's staff will perform this activity.
5. Install the switch. Based on past experience, the time estimate to install is two hours. Ricardo's staff will do this activity.
6. Install the server and test. The testing depends on the T1 connection installation. Based on past experience, the time estimate to install is six hours. Ricardo's staff will do this activity.
7. The web team will add the new store location and phone number to the lookup function on the Internet site. The time estimate is two hours. Ricardo will assign his applications programming manager to this activity. This activity depends on the lease being signed.
Jake and Jill have each written similar lists with estimates and potential resource assignments. You begin to align all the activities in sequential order and discover a problem. Jill needs 14 days to hire personnel and stock shelves, meaning that the build-out must be finished by January 16. Build-out takes approximately 120 days and can't start before September 20 because of the contractor's availability. This is a problem because Ricardo's Ethernet cable expert isn't available until October 5, and he needs 2 days to complete the cabling. This pushes out the build-out start date by almost 2 weeks, which means the project completion date, or store-opening date, is delayed by 2 weeks.
After gathering more information from Ricardo, you head to Dirk's office.
"So, Dirk," you conclude after filling him in on all the details, "we have two options. Hire a contractor to perform the cable run since Ricardo's person isn't available or push the store opening out by two weeks."
Dirk asks, "How much will the contractor charge to run the cable, and are they available within the time frame you need?"
"Yes, they are available, and I've already requested that Ricardo book the week of September 18 to hold this option open for us. They've quoted a price of $10,000."
"OK, let's bring in the contractor. At this point, $10,000 isn't going to break the budget. How is that planning coming anyway? Signed a lease yet?"
"Yes, we've signed the lease. Jake has been meeting with Gomez construction on the build-out. We've used Gomez on three out of the last five new stores and have had good luck with them."
You spend the next couple of days working on the project schedule in Microsoft Project, clarifying tasks and activities with Jake, Ricardo, and Jill. You decide that a Gantt chart will work excellently for reporting status for this project. You stare intensely at the problem you see on the screen. The Grand Opening task is scheduled to occur 13 days later than when you need it! Grand opening must happen February 1 and 2, not February 14 and 15 as the schedule shows. You trace the problem back and see that Grand Opening task depends on Train Store Personnel, which itself depends on several other tasks, including Hire Store Personnel and Install and Test Hardware. Digging deeper, build-out can't begin until the Ethernet cable is run throughout the building. Ricardo already set up the time with the contractor to run the cable on September 18. This date cannot move, which means build-out cannot start any sooner than September 20, which works with Gomez's availability.
You pick up the phone and dial Jake's number. "Jake," you say into the receiver, "I'm working on the project schedule, and I have some issues with the Gomez activity."
"Shoot," Jake says.
"Gomez Construction can't start work until the Ethernet cable is run. I've already confirmed with Ricardo that there is no negotiation on this. Ricardo is hiring a contractor for this activity, and the earliest they can start is September 18. It takes them two days to run the cable, which puts the start date for build-out at September 20."
"What's the problem with the September 20 date?" Jake asks.
"Jill wants to have the build-out finished prior to hiring the store personnel. During the last store opening, those activities overlapped, and she said it was unmanageable. She wants to hire folks and have them stock the shelves in preparation for store opening but doesn't want contractors in there while they're doing it. A September 20 start date for Gomez puts us at a finish date of January 26, which is too late to give Jill time to hire and stock shelves. My question is this: is 120 days to finish a build-out a firm estimate?"
"Always — I've got this down to a science. Gomez has worked with me on enough of these build-outs that we can come within just a couple of days of this estimate either way," Jake says.
You pick up your schedule detail and continue, "I've scheduled Gomez's resource calendar as you told me originally. Gomez doesn't work Sundays, and neither do we. Their holidays are Labor Day, a couple of days at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, but this puts us too far out on the schedule. We must have our February 1 opening coincide with the Garden and Home Show dates."
"I can't change the 120 days. Sounds like you have a problem."
"I need to crash the schedule," you say. "What would the chances be of Gomez agreeing to split the build-out tasks? We could hire a second contractor to come in and work alongside Gomez's crew to speed up this task. That would shorten the duration to 100 days, which means we could meet the February 1 date."
"Won't happen. I know Gomez. They're a big outfit and have all their own crews. We typically work with them exclusively. If I brought another contractor into the picture, I might have a hard time negotiating any kind of favors with them later if we get into a bind."
"All right," you say. "How about this? I'm making some changes to the resource calendar while we're talking. What if we authorize Gomez's crew to work six 10-hour days, which still leaves them with Sundays off, and we ask them to work on Labor Day and take only one day at Thanksgiving instead of two?"
"I think Gomez would go for that. You realize it's going to cost you?"
"Project management is all about trade-offs. We can't move the start date, so chances are the budget might take a hit to accommodate schedule changes or risk. Fortunately, I'm just now wrapping up the final funding requirements, or the cost budget, so if you can get me the increased cost from Gomez soon, I'd appreciate it. This change will keep us on track and resolve Jill's issues too."
"I don't think Gomez's crew will mind the overtime during the holiday season. Everyone can use a little extra cash at that time of year, it seems. I'll have the figures for you in a day or two."
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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.