Thursday, May 19, 2011

Project Schedule Granularity?

How granular do my project scheduled need to be for them to be relevant, but not burdensome... that's the balance.

Like anything in life, excesses or radicalism in either direction is a bad thing.

There are some basic tenets to project design you must answer...
  1. Are my projects detailed enough to have a valid critical path. If the answer is no, you need to add detail.
  2. Do I have sufficient tasks that resources are properly assigned, and they understand their assignments.
  3. Does it take my resources an inordinate amount of time to update their progress using the detailed plan? If it takes two hours a week, you've lost 5% of productivity. Your plans may be too detailed.
  4. Have I taken analysis process so far that my resources don't have to think? When you do this, you are accepting the responsibility for the tasks, not the resources. They are the experts, and should give you feedback on the task, and the hours allocated. You are the General Contractor - the general contract asks subcontractors for bids... he already knows in general terms what the cost should be.. this confirms and refines his estimate.
  5. Do you have too many milestones? If the answer is yes, then consider reducing them. Milestones are MAJOR achievements, not tick marks. Use them judiciously. A milestone should be celebrated, don't water it down.

To manage the project well, you need to have enough tasks with successors and predecessors so you can develop a critical path. The critical path should be sensitive enough that from time reported, and the process of updating the percent complete, you can determine if your project is at risk. Not everything is on the critical path. You can wire a house, and plumb it for the most part at the same time. Both may be required for the next step, but may take different amounts of time. The one that takes the longer time is most likely the critical path item.

Hope this helps. Keep it simple where possible... less is more... except when it's too little to be effective.

Remember, it's about the balance! Excess in any area of your life is bad.