Task Manager Role

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The task manager's job is to maintain project flow. The task manager needs to know which task to work on next. The trick is to work on the tasks that will move the project toward completion as soon as possible. W. Herroelen, R. Leus, and E. Demeulemeester [3] criticized CCPM for not "rescheduling" the project dynamically: "Opportunities for speeding the remaining part of the ongoing project may be exploited by rearranging the schedule" (p. 57). They did not understand that CCPM does not schedule task dates at all, and by performing task assignments dynamically, it achieves the same end as continuous rescheduling, without the continuous rescheduling: accelerated project completion. Although CCPM uses resource leveling to determine the overall duration necessary to complete the project, it a mistake of subtle deterministic thinking to think that the resulting task dates actually mark when tasks will take place. Tasks will start when the predecessor task is complete and the resource is available, and they will complete as soon as possible. Herroelen, Leus, and Demeulemeester's paper actually made a good case for following the CCPM approach.

The first rule of CCPM implements relay-racer task performance: Once resources start a task, they should complete it as soon as possible. As resources complete tasks, task managers should put available resources to work on the next task that is (1) available to start (i.e., the predecessor has completed), and (2) causing the most project-buffer penetration. This is true within a project and across multiple projects. That task can be on or off the critical chain. In a multiproject environment, project-buffer penetration can be higher on a lower-priority project. In that case, the resource should work on the task on the lower-priority project before working on the higher-priority project. Project priority is implicit in the projects' start and end dates once they have been pipelined by the CCPM multiproject approach.

You can greatly facilitate this decision by providing the task manager with a prioritized list of tasks in the order in which they should start. You can automate this process with some non-CCPM software. For example, a recent client, using Primavera, instituted a script to generate the prioritized list. The list put the started tasks at the top and then prioritized, using a float calculation from a working schedule in which the feeding-buffer durations had been reduced to zero. The list sorted from least float (including most negative) to greatest float and had a column to identify that the predecessor task was done.

The CCPM+ software [4] takes a graphical approach, showing the tasks that are ready to work in priority order (Figure 8.1). The Concerto software automates the process for multiple projects, providing the task manager a prioritized list of tasks designed to facilitate rapid task-statusing and communication (Figure 8.2).

The Concerto software [5] takes a strongly user-focused perspective to provide near real-time reporting of project information. The Web-enabled software allows anyone with permission to access it anytime, anywhere. Task managers can input task statuses at the end of their shifts in just a few minutes. Most projects that use it run the buffer analysis daily; more intense, multishift projects sometimes run the analysis twice a day. A system administrator authorizes different user roles, all accessing the same database. This ensures that all stakeholders operate from the same data. Alternative analyses and views of the data support the different decisions necessary for the different roles.

During project execution, the task manager plays the key role in making the whole CCPM system work: reporting task start and completion and estimating remaining duration (RDU) for in-progress tasks. The estimate of RDU drives the determination of buffer penetration and, therefore, can impact everyone's task priority. Task managers must be competent and committed to making realistic estimates, and they must be accountable to ensure that the RDU estimates are input into the schedule software in time for project meetings. Task managers are trained to take whatever action necessary to ensure that the information is put in on time, no matter where they are or what they are doing.

For delivery of the task result, the buck stops with the task manager. There are no excuses: no matter what happens to the resources or what occurs on the task, the task manager is accountable to deliver the task result in the shortest time possible. If resources are not available or are ineffective, the task manager must take whatever action necessary to resolve that problem. If at any time the task managers feels unable to resolve a problem to move the task to completion, he or she must immediately engage the help of the project manager and, if appropriate, resource managers.

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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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