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Deliverable-based Project Schedules: Part 1

Deliverable-based Project Schedules: Part 1 (#1 in the series Deliverable-based Project Schedules
By Thomas Cutting

People build many different types of project schedules. There are the massive checklist and the one liner varieties. I’ve seen them with Phases, Activities, Tasks, Sub-Tasks, Sub-sub-tasks and sub-sub-sub-tasks. Some have randomly bolded Milestones and still others fail to communicate anything.

For projects that span more than a couple of months and a handful of individuals, a deliverable-based project plan offers the best way to track and report on it. Over the next several entries we’ll look at:

  1. Definitions
  2. Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) – what it is and how to use it
  3. Creating the Schedule
  4. When is enough too much?

Definitions. Since there are 3 words there are obviously 5 definitions that we need to review.

Deliverable – pre-defined, tangible work product. This could be a report, document, web page, server upgrade or any other building block to your overall project. Read the Complete Article

Deliverable-based Project Schedules: Part 7

Deliverable-based Project Schedules: Part 7 (#7 in the series Deliverable-based Project Schedules)
By Thomas Cutting

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? Read the Complete Article

Deliverable-based Project Schedules: Part 6

Deliverable-based Project Schedules: Part 6 (#6 in the series Deliverable-based Project Schedules)
By Thomas Cutting

All the tasks have been laid out, sorted into deliverables, aligned with predecessors and estimated for effort. If you are using an auto-scheduling tool like MS Project, the length of the project has been stretched out as if one person was doing everything at 100%. Now we want to set realistic expectations on the duration of each task.

Estimate Duration. “Why are we worried about the duration before we add the resources?” you might ask. Good question. The reason is productivity. It is easier to bake it in up front than to try and force it in later.

Mentally everyone knows that, unless you work overtime, an 8-hour task takes more than a day to complete. This is a factor of our productivity. Over the course of a year people are, at most, about 80% productive. Read the Complete Article

Deliverable-based Project Schedules: Part 4

Deliverable-based Project Schedules: Part 4 (#4 in the series Deliverable-based Project Schedules)
By Thomas Cutting

Whether you select a Product or Phase structure, the steps to building a deliverable-based schedule remain the same.

Enter All Tasks. The next step is to fill in all of the tasks associated with the identified list of deliverables. Those deliverables may be the list from the WBS or, like the Phase structured schedule; it may include the separate building blocks (i.e. Requirements Document, etc.).

Drill down to the task level for each deliverables. You can use the WBS or other tool, but eventually you will need to switch to the scheduling tool. Although we are not ready to assign effort to the tasks, the general rule of thumb for the size of a task is between 4 and 80 hours per resources. Anything less than 4 hours is a pain to track and doesn’t offer much payback for the effort. Read the Complete Article

Deliverable-based Project Schedules: Part 3

Deliverable-based Project Schedules: Part 3 (#3 in the series Deliverable-based Project Schedules)
By Thomas Cutting

I teach an intermediate level MS Project class that focuses on building a deliverable-based schedule. This concept is foreign to many project managers. They tend to develop and use the schedule solely as a checklist, which is unfortunate because they miss out on both the scheduling capabilities and the reporting information available from the tool. In this next section walks through creating a schedule that will set your project up for success.

Creating the Schedule. There is a certain order to the creation of the schedule. The steps are Enter All Tasks, Determine Predecessors, Estimate the Work, Estimate Duration, Assign Resources and Add Constraints.

But before you begin putting tasks to schedule you need to decide the most appropriate way to lay out your schedule. The answer to this depends on what your reporting needs are. Read the Complete Article

Deliverable-based Project Schedules: Part 2

Deliverable-based Project Schedules: Part 2 (#2 in the series Deliverable-based Project Schedules)
By Thomas Cutting

The first step in developing a deliverable-based project schedule is to determine what those deliverables are. One tool used to do this is the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).

Work Breakdown Structure. The WBS is a planning tool that documents the breakdown of the project into deliverables. The is accomplished by taking the ultimate product of the project and breaking it into smaller, more manageable pieces until you have identified all the building blocks of the project. If that project were to create a new home page, the final deliverable would be the completed page. Simplistically speaking, the development process could be divided into parts that included Layout, Column 1 and Column 2 with each of the columns further defined as illustrated in the picture below.

WBS Example

Get the team involved in this exercise. As the project manager, you should facilitate and document these brainstorming sessions. Read the Complete Article

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