Time has a funny way of sneaking up on you—and then easing on by. As a project manager, you've got stakeholders, project team members, and management all worried about your project deliverables, how the project is moving forward, and when, oh when, the project will be done. You've also got vacations, sick days, demands from other project managers, and delays from vendors to deal with.
Management frets over how much a project will cost. Project customers fret over the deliverables the project will create. Everyone, as it turns out, frets over how long the project will take. Of course I’m talking about the Triple Constraints of Project Management: cost, scope, and time. If any one of these constraints is out of balance with the other two, the project is unlikely to succeed. Time, as it happens, is often the toughest of the three constraints to manage, because interruptions come from all sides of the project.
This seminar, worth two Professional Development Units, details the Project Schedule Management knowledge area. It's everything you must know to master project time management.
The project management planning processes are iterative, as you know, and will happen over and over throughout the project. You and the project team—and even some key stakeholders—will work together to define the project’s schedule management plan. This will happen early in the project’s planning processes, but chances are good you’ll need to return to schedule management planning to adjust, replan, or focus on the schedule you’ve created for the project.Schedules are created and designed throughout the project. This lecture will help you to understand these concepts:
When a project is first initiated, project managers often focus immediately on the labor and activities that will be required to complete the project work. But that focus ignores the scope. Before the work actually begins you'll need to work with the project team to define the activities to schedule. This lecture covers:
Now that the activity list has been created, the activities must be arranged in a logical sequence. This process calls on the project manager and the project team to identify the logical relationships between activities, as well as the preferred relationship between those activities. Once you have the activities defined you'll need to put them in the correct order. That's what this module is all about:
Resources include materials, equipment, and people. After the project manager and the project team have worked together to determine the sequence of the activities, they now have to determine which resources are needed for each activity, as well as how much of each resource. As you can guess, resource estimating goes hand in hand with cost estimating. This lecture will define:
First, you identify the activities, sequence the activities, define the resources, and then estimate durations. These processes are needed to complete the project schedule and the project duration estimate. These four processes are iterated as more information becomes available. If the proposed schedule is acceptable, the project can move forward. If the proposed schedule takes too long, the scheduler can use a few strategies to compress the project. We’ll discuss the art of scheduling in a few moments.
Activity duration estimates, like the activity list and the WBS, don’t come from the project manager—they come from the people completing the work. The estimates may also undergo progressive elaboration. In this section, we’ll examine the approach to completing activity duration estimates, the basis of these estimates, and allow for activity list updates. In order to predict when the project will end you'll need to examine project activity duration. That's what this module covers:
The project manager, the project team, and possibly even the key stakeholders, will examine the inputs previously described and apply the techniques discussed in this section to create a feasible schedule for the project. The point of the project schedule is to complete the project scope in the shortest possible time without incurring exceptional costs, risks, or a loss of quality.
Creating the project schedule is part of the planning process group. It is calendar-based and relies on both the project network diagram and the accuracy of time estimates. When the project manager creates the project schedule, she’ll also reference the risk register. The identified risks and their associated responses can affect the sequence of the project work and when the project work can take place. In addition, if a risk comes to fruition, the risk event may affect the scheduling of the resources and the project completion date. Do you know how to calculate float? If not, this is the module you'll want to spend some time in. This module includes:
Float, or slack, is the amount of time an activity can be delayed without postponing the project’s completion. Technically, there are three different types of float:
There are a couple of different approaches to calculating float. I’m sharing the approach that I learned and that I think is the best approach. You may have learned a different method that you prefer. You won’t hurt my feelings if you use your method to get the same result as my method. What’s most important is that you understand the concepts of forward and backward passes, and that you can find the critical path and float in a simple network diagram.
Schedule compression is also a mathematical approach to scheduling. The trick with schedule compression, as its name implies, is calculating ways the project can get done sooner than expected. Consider a construction project. The project may be slated to last eight months, but due to the expected cold and nasty weather typical of month 7, the project manager needs to rearrange activities, where possible, to end the project as soon as possible.
In some instances, the relationship between activities cannot be changed due to hard logic or external dependencies. The relationships are fixed and must remain as scheduled. Now consider the same construction company that is promised a bonus if they can complete the work by the end of Month 7. Now there’s incentive to complete the work, but there’s also the fixed relationship between activities.
To apply duration compression, the performing organization can rely on two different methods. These methods can be used independently or together, and are applied to activities or to the entire project based on need, risk, and cost.
Like most things in a project, the project manager will need to work to control the schedule from slipping off its baseline. A schedule control system is a formal approach to managing changes to the project schedule. It considers the conditions, reasons, requests, costs, and risks of making changes. It includes methods of tracking changes, approval levels based on thresholds, and the documentation of approved or declined changes. The schedule control system process is part of integrated change management. This lecture will help you to understand:
This practice exam will test your comprehension of the topics covered in this seminar. Take this practice test over and over until you can complete the exam with a perfect score. If you've questions about this exam, add them to the discussion and I'll help.
Joseph Phillips has more than 15 years’ experience as a project management consultant, educator, technology consultant, business owner, and technical writer. He has consulted as a project manager for a range of businesses, including startups, hospitals, architectural firms, and manufacturers. Joseph is passionate about helping students pass the PMP certification exam. He has created and led both in-person and web-based seminars on project management, PMP certification, IT project management, program management, writing, business analysis, technical writing, and related topics. Joseph has written, co-authored, or served as technical editor to more than 35 books on technology, careers, project management, and goal setting for MacMillan, McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education, and AMA Press.
Project Management Professional (PMP)
PMI-Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
CompTIA Project+ Professional
CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer+
PMP Project Management Professional Study Guide, McGraw-Hill
CAPM/PMP All-in-One Exam Guide, McGraw-Hill
PMP Project Management Lab Book, McGraw-Hill
The Certified Technical Trainer All-in-One Exam Guide, McGraw-Hill
IT Project Management: On Track from Start to Finish, McGraw-Hill
Project Management for Small Business, American Management Association
Software Project Management for Dummies, For Dummies Publisher
The Lifelong Project, Amazon CreateSpace
Vampire Management: Why Your Job Sucks, Amazon CreateSpace