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Friday, 16 January 2015 20:53

Use These Two Techniques for Managing a Schedule

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This content is from the Method123 weekly email dated 2015.01.15

There are many great techniques that help you manage the schedule on your project. Here are a couple.


Investigate Further When ‘Completed’ Activities Are Not Really Completed

Sometimes a team member says that an activity is complete when in reality it is not quite done. This can happen for the following reasons:
  • The activity should have been completed and the team member believes he needs just a short amount of time to complete it. He might say it is complete and then finish it up quickly, rather than deal with the consequences of the activity being late.

  • A deliverable is ’completed’ by the team member but not approved. The team member may say the work is complete, but when the deliverable is checked it is discovered that it is incomplete or needs additional follow-up work.
To avoid this, make sure that there is an approval process for all major deliverables, and that the schedule leaves time for the approval process and for updates based on feedback. Then there is no question that the deliverable is completed, because it has either been approved or it hasn’t. If an activity does not call for the total completion of a deliverable, you would expect that when a team member says an activity is completed, it probably is. If you find a pattern of this not being the case, the individual team member might need coaching on how to better report the status of his work. 

Use the Concept of Triple Constraint to Manage Cost, Schedule and Scope

At the end of the planning phase you should have an agreement with your sponsor on the work that will be completed (Charter/Scope Statement), the cost (or hours) and duration that are needed to complete the work (the schedule). These three items form a concept called the “triple constraint”. If one of the three items change, at least one, if not both, of the other items need to change as well.

This is more than an academic discussion. The concept actually has great relevance to the management of the project. The triple constraint makes logical sense and can be easily explained to your clients as well.

This concept is easy to visualize if you think of the triple constraint as a triangle, with the sides representing cost, duration and scope of work.

For example, if the scope of work increases, the cost and / or deadline must increase as well. This makes sense. If you have more work to do, it will take more cost (effort) and perhaps a longer duration. (Likewise if you reduce the scope of work, the cost (effort) and / or the deadline should decrease as well.)

Similarly, if you are asked to accelerate the project and complete it earlier than scheduled, it would also be logical to ask for less work. However, if you are asked to deliver the same work in less time, the third leg of the triple constraint (cost or effort) should increase to maintain the balance. You will need to increase costs (effort), perhaps by working overtime hours or perhaps by bringing in more resources to complete the same amount of work earlier.

Once the project manager really recognizes this relationship in the triple constraint, he will automatically recognize when one leg changes and instantly look for ways that the other legs will change to maintain the triple constraint balance.
At TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit www.TenStep.com or contact us at admin@TenStep.com.
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