The scheduling of activities is the first major requirement of the program office after program go-ahead. The program office normally assumes full responsibility for activity scheduling if the activity is not too complex. For large programs, functional management input is required before scheduling can be completed. Depending on program size and contractual requirements, it is not unusual for the program office to maintain, at all times, a program staff member whose responsibility is that of a scheduler. This individual continuously develops and updates activity schedules to provide a means of tracking program work. The resulting information is then supplied to the program office personnel, functional management, and team members, and, last but not least, is presented to the customer.
Activity scheduling is probably the single most important tool for determining how company resources should be integrated so that synergy is produced. Activity schedules are invaluable for projecting time-phased resource utilization requirements as well as providing a basis for visually tracking performance. Most programs begin with the development of schedules so that accurate cost estimates can be made. The schedules serve as master plans from which both the customer and management have an up-to-date picture of operations.
Certain guidelines should be followed in the preparation of schedules, regardless of the projected use or complexity:
• All major events and dates must be clearly identified. If a statement of work is supplied by the customer, those dates shown on the accompanying schedules must be included. If for any reason the customer's milestone dates cannot be met, the customer should be notified immediately.
• The exact sequence of work should be defined through a network in which interrelationships between events can be identified.
• Schedules should be directly relatable to the work breakdown structure. If the WBS is developed according to a specific sequence of work, then it becomes an easy task to identify work sequences in schedules using the same numbering system as in the WBS. The minimum requirement should be to show where and when all tasks start and finish.
• All schedules must identify the time constraints and, if possible, should identify those resources required for each event.
Although these four guidelines relate to schedule preparation, they do not define how complex the schedules should be. Before preparing schedules, three questions should be considered:
• How many events or activities should each network have?
• How much of a detailed technical breakdown should be included?
• Who is the intended audience for this schedule?
Most organizations develop multiple schedules: summary schedules for management and planners and detailed schedules for the doers and lower-level control. The detailed schedules may be strictly for interdepartmental activities. Program management must approve all schedules down through the first three levels of the work breakdown structure. For lower-level schedules (i.e., detailed interdepartmental), program management may or may not request a sign of approval.
The need for two schedules is clear. According to Martin: 10
In larger complicated projects, planning and status review by different echelons are facilitated by the use of detailed and summary networks. Higher levels of management can view the entire project and the interrelationships of major tasks without looking into the detail of the individual subtasks. Lower levels of management and supervision can examine their parts of the project in fine detail without being distracted by those parts of the project with which they have no interface.
One of the most difficult problems to identify in schedules is a hedge position. A hedge position is a situation in which the contractor may not be able to meet a customer's milestone date without incurring a risk, or may not be able to meet activity requirements following a milestone date because of contractual requirements. To illustrate a common hedge position, consider Example 11-1 below.
Example 11-1. Condor Corporation is currently working on a project that has three phases: design, development, and qualification of a certain component. Contractual requirements with the customer specify that no components will be fabricated for the development phase until the design review meeting is held fol-
10 Reprinted, with permission of the publisher, from Project Management: How to Make It Work (p. 137) by Charles Martin, © 1976 AMACOM, a division of the American Management Association. All rights reserved.
lowing the design phase. Condor has determined that if it does not begin component fabrication prior to the design review meeting, then the second and third phases will slip. Condor is willing to accept th risk that should specifications be unacceptable during the design review meeting, the costs associated with preauthorization of fabrication will be incurred. How should this be shown on a schedule? (The problems associated with performing unauthorized work are not being considered here.)
The solution to Example 11 -1 is not an easy one. Condor must play an honest game and show on the master production schedule that component fabrication will begin early, at the contractor's risk. This should be followed up by a contractual letter in which both the customer and contractor understand th risks and implications.
Example 11-1 also raises the question of whether this hedge position could have been eliminated wit! proper planning. Hedge positions are notorious for occurring in research and development or design phases of a program. Condor's technical community, for example, may have anticipated that each component could be fabricated in one week based on certain raw materials. If new raw materials were required or a new fabrication process had to be developed, it is then possible that the new component fabrication time could have increased from one week to two or three weeks, thus creating an unanticipated hedge position.
Detailed schedules are prepared for almost every activity. It is the responsibility of the program office to marry all of the detailed schedules into one master schedule to verify that all activities can be completed as planned. The preparation sequence for schedules (and also for program plans) is shown in Figure 11-12. The program office submits a request for detailed schedules to the functional
managers. The request may be in the form of a planning work authorization document. The functional managers then prepare summary schedules, detailed schedules, and, if time permits, interdepartmental schedules. Each functional manager then reviews his schedules with the program office. The program office, together with the functional program team members, integrates all of the plans and schedules and verifies that all contractual dates can be met.
Before the schedules are submitted to publications, rough drafts of each schedule and plan should be reviewed with the customer. This procedure accomplishes the following:
• Verifies that nothing has fallen through the cracks
• Prevents immediate revisions to a published document and can prevent embarrassing moments
• Minimizes production costs by reducing the number of early revisions
• Shows customers early in the program that you welcome their help and input into the planning phase
After the document is published, it should be distributed to all program office personnel, functional team members, functional management, and the customer.
The exact method of preparing the schedules is usually up to the individual performing the activity. All schedules, however, must be approved by the program office. The schedules are normally prepared in a format that is suitable to both the customer and contractor and is easily understood by all. The schedules may then be used in-house as well as for customer review meetings, in which case the contractor can "kill two birds with one stone" by tracking cost and performance on the original schedules. Examples of detailed schedules are shown in Chapter 13.
In addition to the detailed schedules, the program office, with input provided by functional management, must develop organization charts. The organizational charts tell all active participants in the project who has responsibility for each activity. (Examples were shown in Section 4.11.) The organizational charts display the formal (and often the informal) lines of communication.
The program office may also establish linear responsibility charts (LRCs). In spite of the best attempts by management, many functions in an organization may overlap between functional units. Also, management might wish to have the responsibility for a certain activity given to a functional unit that normally would not have that responsibility. This is a common occurrence on short-duration programs where management desires to cut costs and red tape.
Care must be taken that project personnel do not forget the reason why the schedule was developed. The primary objective of detailed schedules is usually to coordinate activities into a master plan in order to complete the project with the:
Of course, the objective can be constrained by:
• Calendar completion dates
• Cash or cash flow restrictions
• Limited resources
There are also secondary objectives of scheduling:
• Studying alternatives
• Developing an optimal schedule
• Using resources effectively
• Refining the estimating criteria
• Obtaining good project control
• Providing for easy revisions 11.20—
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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.