Scheduling as Team Motivator

Team complacency is the enemy of quality; therefore, any strategy that addresses complacency will yield quality benefits in the project management process. The way project managers deal with complacency and maintain focus is to understand the tendency of the system to go to disorder and complacency unless regularly charged with new energy and purpose. If complacency is the enemy of quality, purpose and scheduling are the enemies of complacency. New purpose and energy are introduced to the system by focusing on the scheduled work and immersing the project team in the task interdependencies and interrelationships designed into the project process.

Quality has a unique structure and texture in each project—a project quality persona—that is built into the project. Quality must be structured into the work, and each project presents a different challenge in finding ways to do so. Tasks and subtasks that ensure quality should be made integral to the work breakdown structure and the schedule for the work. Scheduling quality into the work means addressing quality in the definition of summary tasks, subtasks, linkages, and work packages. For instance, for an electronic instrument project, the actual task of drawing an electronic version of the product is linked back to the baseline specification of the deliverable and to customer expectations. The drawing must meet specifications—and, conversely, specifications must be structured to allow alignment with drawings—before quality is actually structured into the task. If the potential gap between specifications and the drawing cannot be closed by a scheduled task, e.g., "Check Drawing Against Spec," there is no linkage from the drawing to a functional requirement. This is the way scheduling is used to ensure project quality.

The advantage to using scheduling as a team motivating activity is that the schedule is a way to refocus individual work into the context of the team effort, to continually remind team members of the interdependencies in their work. Schedules projected on a screen for team review and discussion create the sense of a common purpose for the team. This motivates team members to see how their work fits into the big picture. Customers respond positively to project schedules because they can fit key milestones and deliverables into their own calendars.

As a special note, there is wide variation in the extent to which project teams take the time to plan and schedule projects, especially across international lines. These differences are attributable to culture differences as well as style. European project firms, for instance, appear to place much more emphasis on front-end project planning, perhaps up to 40 percent of the project timeline, than American or Canadian project managers. American project managers minimize up-front planning and scheduling, and rely more on down-the-road change management strategies to deal with issues not addressed in the planning and scheduling process. We believe that this tendency to downplay project scheduling is being reversed by the competitive forces of the global economy. American project firms are giving more emphasis to planning and scheduling as a result.

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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