Having a good schedule is critical for project success. Time is money because every day worked means resources are paid. Here are five tips to improve your project schedules:
- Include project critical success factors and other key messages at the top of the schedule (and all project plans).
- Get the right level of detail. The WBS work package level becomes a summary task with action verbs as subordinate tasks informing what needs to be accomplished. Most sub-tasks should have a duration of 40 hours or less for IT and knowledge-based projects. Construction and other projects may be slightly longer, but should rarely exceed 80-160 hours.
- Position milestones and deliverables at regular intervals (at least monthly) so you can easily see when you are slipping. Move tasks with the highest risk earlier in the timeline.
- Include contingency and management reserve time based on schedule risk and adjust the timeline to end ahead of the due date by that amount. You may have to adjust or negotiate some tasks or look for fast-tracking opportunities. It creates an effect similar to using Goldratt's chain and is easier to implement.
- Avoid using constraints and deadlines, with or without the use of a scheduling tool. Everything should always be completed as soon as possible.
Want to learn more about how to integrate these practices into a project methodology? Check out our Micro Guide to the PROJECT Methodology.
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