Three Essential Techniques to Manage Schedule

To manage a schedule, the venture manager must know how the work is progressing compared to the master schedule and, if necessary, make changes to keep the project on time.These techniques can be used in a stand-alone manner or in mixtures.

Here's the TenStep guest blog post "Three Essential Techniques to Manage Schedule":

Managing the schedule is one of the most important activities of a project manager. These are many great techniques to help manage the schedule. Here are three important ones.

Don’t manage activities by percent complete

When an activity starts it is zero percent complete. When the activity is finished it is 100% complete. In between is trickier. If a team member was 20 hours into a 40 hour activity, you could say he is 50% complete. But is he? Just because the hours are 50% used, does that mean the activity is 50% complete? Usually no.

The project manager could ask team members to report on their percent complete, but the answer is usually highly arbitrary. If a team member tells you he is 60% complete. how do you really know? How do you know he is not 58% complete or 62% complete?

Manage the schedule by due date

A better way to get the information you need is to ask ‘When will the work be done?’ If the schedule shows an activity should be completed on Friday, and the work is not done, don’t ask the team member for the percentage complete. Instead ask the team member ‘When will the work be done?’ Asking when the work will be completed gives you concrete information you can place on your schedule, while also getting the team member to make another commitment to the new end-date.

Have an outside party review the schedule periodically

Sometimes the project manager can get too comfortable (or too uncomfortable) in how the project is progressing. In many cases, it makes sense to have another party evaluate the project management processes being utilized and double-check that the project is progressing as expected. This “outside party” could be any qualified person outside of the project manager. In some cases, your organization may have an internal project audit specialist. It is possible that the Project Director or the Project Sponsor could also perform this review. The outside party could be an outside contractor or consultant, but they do not need to be.

The project manager or functional manager might call for a project audit as part of an overall quality management program. In some cases, such as a government project, periodic audits may be called for as a part of the overall contract. In any event, an outside audit should provide comfort to the project stakeholders that effective project management processes are being utilized and that the project appears to be on-track.

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