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Friday, July 15, 2011

Points to Remember: Project Time Management

Resources are people, equipment, locations, or anything else that you need in order to do all of the activities that you planned for. Every activity in your activity list needs to have resources assigned to it.

Bottom-Up Estimating is a technique that you may have used before without even knowing it! It means breaking down complex activities into pieces, and working out the resource assignments for each of those simpler pieces using the other four tools and techniques.

Almost all of the outputs of Estimate Activity Resources are immediately used as inputs for Estimate Activity Durations, which is where your estimates come from.

Three-Point Estimates are when you come up with three numbers: a realistic estimate that’s most likely to occur, an optimistic one that represents the best-case scenario, and a pessimistic one that represents the worst-case scenario. The final estimate is the average. There is a formula associated with how you get the final value, but for simplicity sakes, remember that it is an average of these 3 numbers.

The Formula is:

Expected Duration = (Optimistic Duration + 4 times Most Likely duration + Pessimistic Duration) ÷ 6

Why 6? you are going to find the average of 6 numbers and hence 6. How 6? 1 Optimistic + 1 Pessimistic + 4 Most likely which means 1 + 1 + 4 = 6

Develop Schedule brings everything you’ve done in the other time management processes like Sequence Activities, Estimate Activity Resources, Estimate Activity Durations etc into one final schedule. All of the outputs from the other time management processes are inputs to Develop Schedule.

The Critical Path is the string of activities that will delay the whole project if any one of them is delayed.

The float for any activity is the amount of time that it can slip before it causes your project to be delayed. You might also see the word “slack” – it’s the same thing.

Early start - Is the earliest time that an activity can start. An activity near the end of the path will only start early if all of the previous activities in the path also started early. If one of the previous activities in the path slips, that will push it out.

Early finish - Is the earliest time that an activity can finish. It’s the date that an activity will finish if all of the previous activities started early and none of them slipped.

When you find the early start and early finish for each task, you know exactly how much freedom you have to move the start dates for those activities around without causing problems.

Late start - Is the latest time that an activity can start. If an activity is on a path that’s much shorter than the critical path, then it can start very late without delaying the project – but those delays will add up quickly if other activities on its path also slip!

Late finish - Is the latest time that an activity can finish. If an activity is on a short path and all of the other activities on that path start
and finish early, then it can finish very late without causing the project to be late.

Figuring out the late start and late finish will help you see how much “play” you have in your schedule. An activity with a large late start or late finish means you have more options.

Calculating the early start (ES) of an activity isn’t hard. All you need to do is look at the early finish (EF) of the previous activity and add one. If there’s more than one predecessor, then you take the largest EF and add one.

It’s just as easy to calculate the late finish (LF). Look at the following activity, take its LS (late start), and subtract one. If there’s more than one following activity, use the one with the lowest LS.

The float for an activity is the amount that its duration can slip without causing the project to be delayed. The float for any activity on the critical path is zero.

Managing schedule change means keeping all of your schedule documents up to date. When your schedule changes, you need to take performance measurements so you can keep your stakeholders up to date.

Remember: Gantt charts — the bar charts you make with MS Project, are just one tool for scheduling. You may use them a lot in your day-to-day work, but they’re only one piece of time management. And remember, on the exam they’re called bar charts, not Gantt charts!

Any time you generate data about your project, you should add it to your organizational process assets so you can use it for future projects.

Points to Remember - Other Topics:

Introduction to Projects & Project Management
Relationship Between Knowledge Areas & Process Groups
Project Integration Management
Project Scope Management
Project Cost Management
Project Quality Management
Human Resource Management
Project Communication Management
Project Risk Management
Project Procurement Management
Ethics & Professional Responsibility

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