Two Essential Techniques to Manage Schedule

Two 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. Manage by due date.

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?

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 the concrete information you can place on your schedule, while also getting the team member to make another commitment to the new end-date.

Validate the work can be done in the designated time

One of the best ways to estimate work is to ask the people that will do the work. That being said, often the people that do the work were not asked for their estimate. The work was estimated by someone else. Therefore, when the project manager assigns work to a team member, it is a good practice to ask the team member to validate the estimate is correct. The team member may know immediately if the estimate is accurate, but it is also likely they may not know until they have started the work.

In general, the project manager should allow the team member to validate whether the estimate is correct. The team member is also obligated to tell the project manager if they disagree with the estimate – as soon as the team member knows. It is not acceptable to miss a due date and then claim later that the estimate was not accurate. The team member must communicate this early – as soon as they know. This allows time for options and adjustments.