Successful project delivery depends directly on the project manager’s ability to build an executable project plan that goes down to the requisite detail.
According to the PMBOK® (Project Management Body of Knowledge, issued by the Project Management Institute) definition, the project plan defines how the project is executed, monitored, controlled and closed. A key element of the project plan is the project schedule.
Believe it or not, there are still many organisations that think that a project schedule is little more than a sophisticated list, which can be set up on an Excel spreadsheet. While a spreadsheet can certainly list and detail the deliverables, it cannot calculate the impact of delays, extensions and changes along the way.
Undoubtedly, one of the key components of successful project management is the delivery of agreed outcomes, within the agreed time and cost. To achieve consistency, it’s vital to figure in the effect of delays, extensions or changes to the project schedule because even seemingly minor adjustments can have a domino effect, impacting on one or more deliverables and even the project’s ultimate outcome.
Using the appropriate project management software puts the project manager (PM) in the driving seat, providing a bird’s eye view of the schedule every step of the way, even as delays, extensions or changes come into play, which allows the PM to adapt and adjust the project schedule accordingly.
But, even with the right software in place, there are some key pitfalls to avoid when it comes to putting a project schedule in place:
In Alice in Wonderland, when Alice asks the Cheshire cat which way she ought to go, even though she doesn’t much care where she gets to, he sagely replies, "Then it doesn’t matter which way you go".
Project management’s a lot like that: without an effective project schedule in place you probably won’t be heading in the right direction. Get the project schedule right and you’ve taken the first – and most important step – to a successful project.
© Tony McManus, McManus Consulting.