iîl^'^ECT COMPLETION— ;i\G Till: CÏ&TÏ^ PATH
Completing a project "on time" (meeting a specified end date), is often attempted or achieved at the expense of the project's specification and/or budget. Stringent deadlines are frequently established by a client, project sponsor or management for soun business reasons with little or no regard for the real1'1/ of attainment; and the project manager is th-n charged with making someone's unrealistic wish con1?
true. The Space Shuttle disaster is a tragic reminder of what can happen—lives were lost, the project delayed for several years and NASA's image damaged, possibly beyond repair.
So what is a project manager to do? If an unrealistic end date is accepted and a schedule is developed by arbitrarily making the necessary project tasks "fit" the predetermined time constraint, the plan Is likely to be ineffective. The project will either be late, or if completed within the allotted time, specified performance and/or quality are not likely to be achieved. If the time and specification requirements are met, they will probably be achieved at a premium cost. The concept of making a schedule fit a predefined time frame, without knowledge of where the problems specifically occur, offers little or no chance for project success.
To maximize the probability of success, the project planner must first establish a realistic expected completion date—defined by the project's Critical Path—with no regard for an arbitrary end date; and then selectively compress this required sequence of tasks by judicious resource management and prudent risk taking. To ensure "on time" project completion, the plan must also accommodate the uncertainties of task execution. This is achieved by compressing the Critical Path to meet an earlier end date than specified—effectively establishing a schedule contingency. In this way, the "shotgun" approach of forcing the tasks to fit a given time constraint is avoided; and additional expenditures are incurred, or risks taken, only where they will do the most good. Should this process fail to provide a realistic plan for meeting the specified end date, management or the client must be advised.
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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.