Project Time Management
Project time management is very important. The criteria of getting a project done on time
is pretty universal in defining the success of a project Project Time Management requires
a clear definition of the activities required to produce the deliverables of the project
(Activity Definition), making sure these activities occur in a specific sequence (Activity
Sequencing), making sure the necessary resources are available when you need them
(Activity Resource Estimating), estimating the duration of each activity (Activity
Duration Estimating), developing a project schedule (Schedule Development) and
controlling the schedule once it has been developed (Schedule Control).
Activity Definition includes defining the schedule of activities involved in identifying
and documenting the work that is planned to be performed. These activities are the most
micro (lowest) level of the work breakdown schedule.
Activity definition requires a very precise Project Scope Statement and Statement of
Work. All of the activities should have a recognizable relationship to the deliverable of
the project, its assumptions and limitations.
Activity definition requires the decomposition of the work break down schedule. Taking
one large tasks and converting it to multiple, more manageable smaller tasks.
Standardization of processes, templates, and forms all add the organization’s ability to
define its activities with sufficient detail to ensure the work is completed. Expert
judgment in the planning process and throughout the defining of the organization’s
activities is essential. Do not reinvent the wheel unless you have to.
Activities are recognizable because the usually include a unit of measure in there
definition. Lay 25 ft of pipe. Pour 30 yards of concrete for the patio. A work breakdown
schedule would be: build a patio.
Once the Activity has been defined, it should have milestones defined and scheduled. The
activity definition should include predecessor and successor activities, necessary
relationships with stakeholders, imposed dates, necessary resources, and applicable
Activity Sequencing involves identifying and documenting the logical relationships
among scheduled activities. This requires to project manager to understand the inputs and
outputs of the current sequence and those activities immediately before or after it. These
are referred to predecessor and successor activities. While your first premise is to think
sequentially, do this first, then this and so on, it is imperative that you think in parallel.
Successful project management requires doing multiple tasks in parallel.
Activity sequencing requires a good working understanding of the project scope, activity
list, necessary resources, and milestone expectations. Activity sequencing requires
flowcharting so each activity’s dependencies can be shown graphically.
Dependency determination must be understood and utilized by the project manage. There
are Mandatory Dependencies and are those activities that are inherent with the work
being done and are often physical limitations like a building foundation. Discretionary
dependencies and are established based on the best practices of the industry and the
contributions of the experts working on the job. External dependencies involve the
relationship between project and non project activities. External dependencies may be the
preparation of a construction site, a lawsuit, or the availability of a certain piece of
Activity Resource Estimating involves determining what resources (persons, capital,
equipment, or material) are necessary at each specific point in the sequencing of the
project’s activities. Activity Resource Estimating requires expert judgment, the
presentation and analysis of alternatives, research, and bottom up estimating. One
important output of this activity is a Resource Breakdown Schedule that parallels the
Work Breakdown Structure of the overall project.
Activity Duration Estimating involves the determination of each activity’s duration, the
length of time required to complete it. Past organizational history and experience play an
important role in determining how long each activity should take. It requires the estimator
to understand the project’s scope, the deliverable, and the expected quality (value) of the
project’s owner. Experience is the greatest attribute to estimating the duration of an
Schedule Development is an iterative process (back and fort, contributory process)
aimed at determining a planned start and finish dates for the projects activities.
Scheduling requires the knowledge of the activity’s duration, required resources, and
possible risks that could result in changing the schedule. A working understanding of the
project’s scope is necessary as well as the ability to look at processes from a parallel
perspective. Effective schedule development requires the project manager to understand
the Critical Path Concept/Method.
Critical Path Method is a schedule network analysis technique that is performed using the
project’s schedule to determine which activities must occur in order for the project to
continue. Critical path method requires the project manager to know where the
bottlenecks will occur and how these interruptions will affect the finish dates of activities
and the finish date of the entire project. Critical paths have “0” float. Float is built in time
for the unexpected. Since there is no float, the project manager must manage to the
critical path. The project is only as flexible as its critical path.
Crashing is a term that you need to be aware of. Crashing is schedule compression,
getting things done earlier than planned. Since you are managing the project to its critical
path, crashing will almost always require trade offs. Crashing usually does not result in
the desired scheduling changes, but it always results in increased costs.
Schedule Control involves determining the current status of the project schedule,
controlling and managing the factors that create schedule changes, and managing the
actual changes when they occur.
The project manager must establish a process that manages the changes made to the
project. The smallest changes can result in schedule changes. At a minimum, the team
should document all project changes and very change should be compared against the
project’s scope and schedule. Changes that result in schedule changes need to be
communicated to every team member.
Source: A Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge, Third Edition, The Project
Management Institute, @ 2004.