Steps to ensure that a schedule is robust and has high schedule integrity

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Dear Students,

In this topic we will make you understand about how to ensure that the schedule prepared is robust and has high integrity.

There are ways to ensure that the schedule prepared is according to the requirement of the project. Though a schedule prepared as discussed in our previous topic, some errors may occurs while executing it during the project. Hence it is always recommended to recheck and ensure that the schedule prepared is of highly commendable for the project.

Below are few points which helps in ensuring that the schedule thus prepared meets projects success:-

  1. Prepare a Work Breakdown Structure that describes the work required to meet the project objectives.

Develop the Work Breakdown Structure to the appropriate level of detail – define the tasks andwork elements required to complete the project objectives.

Use a top down approach to identify major components of work which are the highest level or firstlevel Work Breakdown Structure.

Define each task using both a meaningful verb and a noun (e.g., Prepare Test Plans).

Identify intermediate deliverables for each major component.

Break each major component down to an appropriate level of detail. For example, details under one component may break into three or four levels. More levels of detail are generally required for projects which are:

  • Larger;
  • More risky;
  • Dissimilar to past projects; and
  • Difficult to define (i.e., susceptible to change).

Continue to break the work down until a task list is developed which meets the following criteria:

  • One (and only one) owner can be assigned to each of the lowest level tasks;
  • Clearly defined outputs are evident for each task;
  • Quality can be monitored through performance criteria associated with each output;
  • The tasks communicate the work to be accomplished to the person who is accountable for them;
  • The likelihood that a task is omitted or work flow forgotten is minimized;
  • Each task is well enough defined and small enough so that estimates of duration are credible;
  • The project is broken down to the level at which it will be tracked;
  • As a general rule, the lowest level tasks should have durations between two and ten days and effort that equates to no more than one person week;
  • Low level tasks are detailed enough to estimate cost so the WBS can be used to roll-up the project budget; and
  • For high risk, complex projects, an independent cost estimate can be created by a third party to validate total cost of the project.

Ensure that often forgotten tasks have been included – project delays are often caused by forgottentasks, rather than inaccurate estimates. Ensure that the following tasks have been addressedappropriately:

  • Approval cycles;
  • Key project meetings;
  • Training;
  • Project Management;
  • Test planning, development and execution;
  • Project reviews and project closing;
  • Data conversion;
  • Security and controls; and
  • Long lead times for purchases.

Inputs to the creation of the Work Breakdown Structure may include:

  • Other team members;
  • Work Breakdown Structures from other projects;
  • Other Project Managers who have performed similar work;
  • Previous project reviews;
  • Other appropriate groups; and
  • Existing Work Breakdown Structure templates.

 

  1. Assign each task to an owner.

Assign one owner to each of the lowest level tasks. The owner is responsible for defining task completion criteria, determining who should participate in the tasks and ensuring that the task completes successfully. A sample Work Breakdown Structure Responsibility Matrix is shown in Appendix 7. From the perspective of the team, consider the following for each potential owner:

  • Individual capabilities;
  • The accuracy of their work;
  • The potential for creativity;
  • Past experience;
  • Who could back up whom on what;
  • Conflicts; and
  • Individual work styles (solo vs team).

 

 

  1. Define task completion criteria.

Define task completion criteria. Completion criteria are established for each of the lowest level tasks to clarify task objectives and facilitate task closure.

  1. Identify the interim deliverables and administrative tasks.

Identify interim deliverables to divide large tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces of work that can be easily monitored. Allocate time within the project plan to accommodate administrative tasks

(e.g., status reports preparation, team meetings).

  1. Develop project dependency network.

Ensure that all of the different types of project dependencies have been identified and the link ages/deliverables fully defined and included in the Work Breakdown Structure. There are four main types of project dependencies which are:

  • Dependencies that are “internal” to a project (“intra-project”);
  • Dependencies that are “external to a project” and external to the organization;
  • Dependencies between projects; and
  • Enterprise-wide project dependencies.

 

  1. Develop task dependency network.

Identify task dependencies. Logical task dependencies are identified to establish the sequence of work within the project. When identifying logical task dependencies consider:

  • Most tasks are dependent on the start or completion of other tasks;
  • Each task must have a predecessor and/or a successor and most tasks will have both;
  • With few exceptions, all tasks will be constrained. Any tasks which are not, are isolated activities and do not support the project. These tasks may be considered for elimination or cost savings;
  • Focus exclusively on logical dependencies, not resource dependencies;
  • Use outputs to help determine logical dependencies, i.e., the dependency follows the flow of work; and
  • A list of dependencies for each task should be kept in the project file.
  • There are four main types of task dependency:
  • Finish-to-Start (FS) – a task must finish before the next can start;
  • Start-to-Start (SS) – a task must start before the next can start;
  • Finish-to-Finish (FF) – a task must finish before the next may finish; and
  • Start-to-Finish (SF) – a task must start before the next may finish.

Other considerations, when identifying task dependencies include:

  • Lags – a delay between tasks or a waiting time between tasks e.g., you must wait two weeks to start program testing after program coding starts. Lags should be used with discretion as they disrupt the visibility of the logical flow between tasks and duration of lags will be constant regardless of schedule changes; and
  • Loops – an incorrect, circular logical flow between activities. All logical dependencies must be checked for loops. A loop will render the schedule invalid.

 

  1. Load the Work Breakdown Structure data into the planning and scheduling repositories.

As the Work Breakdown Structure content is derived, progressively load the data into the planning and scheduling repositories. Generate reports, review the content and progressively update the data. This process continues on an iterative basis.

I will make sure I understand the reason for the project and the quality standard that is required. My WBS will be well outlined and with this I need to consult individual who owns each aspect of the project and most especially those who will perform the each task. With this I will be able to know the time and cost implication of each activities and perform a top to bottom or bottom to top estimate as the case may be. This will also help me to know the risk that is involved and the secondary risk will be highlighted too and a risk owner assigned. All activity should not open ended. Making sure the activity duration is properly defined as per availability of resources.

Apart from the above points, I will try as much as possible to ensure there is no negative lags in my project. All primavera software setting are fine and well understood. E.g. setting properly activity type – fixed unit, fixed unit/time, fixed duration etc.

I need to define my constraint and what can be compromised that is why it is important to carry the SH along during the entire project life cycle and perform stage reviews from time to time. And if there is any changes in the scope I need to let the SH/Sponsor know the implication on cost, quality time and the risk that will be involved this can be done through change request management.

Project monitoring & controlling is a very important way to make sure the schedule is robust enough throughout the project life cycle. This involves checking the planned to the earned and keeping the SH in the loop from time to time. This always involve high resources plan, resources levelling and macro planning.

So students, Always double check whatever you are doing for a project to ensure you are on the right path for the project success. Any other pointer you have feel free to discuss here.

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