Understanding How This Applies to Your Next Project

Define Activities and Sequence Activities are the first two processes in the "Activity" sequence you'll complete on the road to Develop Schedule. You perform Estimate Activity Resources to determine the resource requirements and quantity of resources needed for each schedule activity. I've found for small- to medium-sized projects, you can perform this process at the same time as the Estimate Activity Durations process. And, if you work in an organization where the same resource pool is used for project after project, you already know the people's skills sets and availability, so you can perform this process at the same time you're creating the project schedule. The same logic holds for projects where the material resources are similar for every project you conduct. If you don't have the need to perform this process, I do recommend that you create a resource calendar at a minimum so that you can note whether team members have extended vacations or family issues that could impact the project schedule. Needless to say, if you're working on a large project or your project teams are new for every project, you should perform the Estimate Activity Resources process rather than combining it with Develop Schedule. It will come in handy later when you're ready to plug names into the activities listed on the project schedule.

Estimate Activity Durations is a process you'll perform for most projects you work on. For larger projects, I'm a big fan of PERT estimates. PERT gives you estimates with a high degree of reliability, which are needed for projects that are critical to the organization, projects that haven't been undertaken before, or projects that involve complex processes or scope. It's easy to create a spreadsheet template to automatically calculate these estimates for you. List your schedule activities in each row, and in the individual columns to the right, record the most likely, pessimistic, and optimistic estimates. The final column can hold the calculation to perform the weighted average of these three estimates, and you can transfer the estimates to your schedule. You can easily add columns to calculate standard deviation as well.

In theory, if you've performed all the "Activity" processes, the schedule should almost be a no-brainer. You can plug the activity list, resources, estimates, and successor and predecessor tasks into the schedule. From there, you will want to take the next step and determine the critical path. The critical path is, well, critical to your project's success. If you don't know which activities are on the critical path, you won't know what the impacts that delays or risk events will have on the project. No matter how big or small the project, be sure you know and understand the critical path activities.

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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