Project Manager Skill: Developing Achievable Project Schedules

Part of the Project Management For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Producing your project's results on schedule is an essential requirement for its success. To have the greatest chance of completing your project on time, you need to develop a project schedule that's achievable, responsive to your client's needs, and understood and supported by all project team members. Take the following steps to create a realistic and attainable project schedule:

  • Identify all required activities.

  • Break down activities into sufficient detail. For example, instead of including a single activity named "determine requirements for new product" in your schedule, break it down further into "review correspondence," "interview salespeople," "conduct focus groups," and "prepare a report of the requirements for the new product."

  • Always consider both duration (the number of work periods required to perform an activity) and interdependencies (the order in which activities are performed) as you develop your project schedule.

  • Identify your strategy for performing each activity before you estimate its duration.

  • Factor in the availability of resources (such as the number of hours each day in May that the manufacturing engineer will be able to work on your project).

  • Recognize and write down all assumptions related to your project and its schedule. For example, if you don't yet know what your project budget is, write down that you'll assume your budget will be $100,000 until you find out otherwise.

  • Identify and plan for all significant project schedule risks (such as whether the redesign of the company financial system will cause your project to be delayed).

  • Reexamine and revise, if necessary, your original schedule after your project is approved and before you start work on it.

  • Involve your project drivers (people for whom you perform the project) and supporters (people who help perform your project) in developing the schedule.

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