Schedule Development

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This section is where the actual schedule is laid out with start and finish dates for each task.

The key inputs are the Activity List, Activity Resource Requirements, and the Activity Duration Estimates.

The key outputs are the Project Schedule and, eventually, the Schedule Baseline. This can be implemented in the form of a complex Gantt chart (MS Project, Primavera's SureTrak, or some other graphic Gantt tool can be used) or as basic as an Excel spreadsheet. The Gantt software tools give you the option to set up various types of charts in their environments:

& Network diagram

& Bar or Gantt chart

& Milestone chart

& Precedence task list

In examining schedule development T&Ts, it is important to understand what each of the key tools offers:

& Critical path method. The critical path stacks up all the Finish-to-Start tasks in your timeline and produces an overall time estimate as a result. Unless you use one or two of the techniques mentioned below, you cannot possibly shorten or compress this timeline—it is what it is. Sometimes there are a few tasks that occur in parallel with critical path tasks, but that are shorter than the task on the critical path. These parallel tasks are said to have some wiggle room as to when they have to start. This wiggle room is called float or slack.

& Schedule compression through the use of Crashing or Fast Tracking:

□ Crashing. Forget a standard 40-hour workweek. When you crash the schedule, people work 10- to 16-hour days and sometimes Saturday and Sunday as well. It is the best method yet devised by management for burning out a team. Sometimes it is necessary because of an unforeseen event, but it usually occurs because of poor planning. Understand that we are not talking about the extraordinary project where the participants are on a do-or-die mission, such as the development of a breakthrough product like Toyota's Prius. In that case, the project stakeholders and engineers lived at the facility day and night and in two years produced what became the most significant change in the automobile industry in almost 100 years. What we are talking about in this case is what is commonly referred to as the student syndrome: Instead of steadily pacing work over the semester, the typical student will execute 70% of the work (completing papers, cramming for exams, etc.) in the last 20% of the semester.

□ Fast Tracking. This looks very good on paper but has a counterintuitive aspect that can produce unexpected and calamitous results. The idea here is that you have determined that several important high-level tasks can be run in parallel:

□ The network infrastructure buildout will take 10 weeks.

□ Application development will take 10 weeks.

□ Server purchase, installation, certification, and operational readiness testing will take 10 weeks.

Since there are three separate and distinct teams doing the work, these tasks do not have to be performed sequentially, taking 30 weeks, but can be performed in parallel, taking only 10 weeks! Management thinks you're a genius for knocking 20 weeks off the schedule. In reality, you will be facing a nasty gotcha called "merge bias.'' See Chapter 10 for a detailed look at a merge bias scenario and how it can clobber your schedule. This is a particularly effective area in which the Monte Carlo analysis can be applied.

□ ''What if ... '' analysis. The use of statistical modeling ex-ampled by the Monte Carlo analysis enables the user to model other scenarios to see what might happen.

□ Resource leveling. After you have already developed the critical path in your timeline, resource leveling is used to help allocate critical resources at the right time in your project. It is also applied with the idea that human resources should not be burned out having to expend 60 to 80 hours a week (the typical Big 5 scenario) to get the job done. Resource leveling equalizes the time to a 40-hour week, or whatever a normal week is to your organization. I have seen project managers shy away from using this aspect in MS Project or similar tools because resource leveling a 9-month project can send your project end-date somewhere west of the dark side of the moon—effectively turning your 9-month project into a multiyear project! If you are in an organization dealing with unions or with resources that might get paid time-and-a-half or double-time for burning over 40 hours a week— resource leveling might save you some money, even if it extends the timeline.

□ Critical chain method. The description as entered in the PMBOK may leave the reader a bit confused. Critical Chain Project Management is a technique developed by Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt of the Goldratt Institute. To date, it is the best method yet developed for shortening a project timeline; however, it is somewhat counterintuitive (read: "heresy" to most C-Levels) and requires executive support for the approach to work. However, the companies that have implemented Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) have seen their project timelines decreased by 25—50% as a result of implementing this approach. There are a few organizations in the Chicago area using the approach that refuse to allow disclosure of what they are doing because the approach is giving them a competitive marketplace advantage. See Chapter 8 for a description of Critical Chain Project Management.

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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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