Wednesday, March 7, 2007

March 7, 2007 – Deliverable-based Project Schedules: Part 7

Finally! We are ready to add resources and get on with the project.

Assign Resources. Just do it. Make sure at least 1 resource is assigned to each task and turn them loose. There are 2 tips I would throw out, though.

First, as I mentioned before, assign the resources 100% to your project unless they are physically on a different project for a set amount of time. This gives your scheduling tool the most options when calculating assignments.

Second, enter dollar values for your resources. If you are not tracking the value of your project you are not effectively managing your resources. A blended rate doesn’t truly cut it. If everyone cost you the same for your project wouldn’t you always pick the best ones? Think about professional soccer. What if you could get David Beckham or Tom Cutting for the same price? Not really a question, eh? My point is that each resource brings different strengths and different expenses to the mix. If you have a budget you need to balance both sides of the equation.

Add Constraints. Once you have the resources entered the final step in setting up the plan is adding the constraints. This includes updating the scheduler’s calendar with holidays, filling in vacation time, setting target dates with milestones, etc.

Wow. You have officially created the first pass at a deliverable-based project schedule. Which, of course, means it is scheduled for twice as long as you have and three times the budget. Now you need to go back and balance the resources, adjust the dependencies and make modifications to bring it into alignment with reality. But, these are all great topics for another day.

Before we run off, though, let’s recap. The objective was to build a plan based on deliverables. All of the tasks role up into one of the deliverable. Because we applied the 80% productivity factor we have a realistic view of the length of the project. We even added cost to the resources.
Assuming you baseline the original schedule and track it with Actuals and Estimates to Complete you can accurately report progress and project completion for each deliverable. Add columns to display the baseline and planned values for the start / end dates and costs and you can tell if you are within schedule and budget. This is the information management needs to determine the health of your project.

When is enough too much?
We touched briefly on this when we were breaking down the tasks. The level of detail and amount of tracking you perform should be comparable to the amount of benefit you gain from it. If no one cares if you finish on time or within budget, then why bother tracking? Enough becomes too much when the effort outweighs the benefit gained from doing it.

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