Creating Project Schedules

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Now that we have a basic understanding of the cycles of a Visual Basic project, the goals for each cycle and who is responsible for each goal, we can begin to look at making schedules. We will define a schedule as a visual document that allows you to see how you will use the time resource towards accomplishing your goals.

A schedule begins with a set of goals that need to be accomplished. Goals can be divided into three priorities: high (critical), medium, and low. Each goal will have one or many milestones that will allow us to measure whether we have accomplished this goal or not. We will have a set of resources, which includes time, money, and human resources, which we can use to accomplish our goals.

Because there will almost always be limitations placed on what we can do with our resources (there is never enough time!), we must balance our schedule so that the high priority goals are met within the limits of our resources. Low priority goals may not get done, and medium priority goals may be done, but not immediately. By using a schedule, we have a visual tool that allows us to adjust the amount of time allotted for our goals until we arrive at a schedule that allows us to complete all of our critical goals, and hopefully most, if not all, of our medium goals. If you can also accomplish your medium priority goals within your normal workday, consider yourself very lucky.

If we are using a scheduling tool, we can extend the definition of a schedule to being a visual document that allows us to see how we are using all of our resources, including time, people, money, and space, towards accomplishing our goals. Using these scheduling tools, you can adjust the usage of all of the available resources until you arrive at a schedule that efficiently uses the resources towards the accomplishment of your goals.

We will use Microsoft Project 98 because it is easy to use and learn, the examples we use with Microsoft Project 98 are useful for any project management software product, and it can be used to demonstrate all of the important concepts of creating a schedule. If you do not have Project 98, you can download a free 60-day trial version at:

This web site also contains links for Project 98 that can help answer even your most advanced questions about how to use Project 98. I would highly recommend you taking the time to download Project 98 now if you do not already have it.

This chapter is filled with important scheduling skills and will teach you the basics of how to create a project schedule. Two of the visual aids provided by Project 98 are Gantt and Pert charts.

A Gantt chart represents each goal as a horizontal bar. The horizontal bar will be placed over a time scale, which is situated at the top of the chart. The length of the horizontal bar shows how long it will take to complete the goal. Using a Gantt chart, one can quickly determine the status of goals over time, the relationship between goals if one exists, and resources associated with the goal.

In this book, I will be placing goals on the schedule. Normally, most people would call these tasks, instead of goals. Tasks are defined as something that is assigned. In our view of teams, we do not assign work. Goals are created for the team, and each team member assumes the goals that fit with their role and their abilities. The word task just does not fit in with our view of a team. Goals, on the other hand, fit in perfectly with our team view. Project 98 uses the word 'tasks'. Just substitute 'goal' for 'task' when working with Project 98.

A Gantt chart will look something like the following example:

Visualizing Task Team

A Pert chart shows the relationships between goals. Goals that are dependent on other goals, for example, one goal requiring another to be completed first or a goal that is a sub-goal of a second, can easily be seen in a Pert chart. Pert charts are useful for visualizing the sequence of goals and they can also show the progress of each goal as time goes on. More information can be found in the Project 98 help files.

Throughout the rest of the book, we will use a generic Visual Basic DNA project as an example to show you how to manage a project. This project will contain the normal parts of a Visual Basic DNA project: client components, server components and web components. If any of these components are not part of your project, you can remove them from this schedule.

In this chapter, you will start out in the Visual Basic developer role. We will look at your personal schedule for the beginning of a project. We will do this to introduce Project 98, show you some of the basics of this tool and also discuss some special scheduling issues for Visual Basic developers.

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