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Useful Tips to Help You Streamline Your IT Project Schedule
By Michelle Symonds

If you are a project manager in the IT industry, it is possible that you have attended project management training during some point in your career. If so, you will have no doubt learnt some handy tips and tricks for the successful completion of your IT project. However, there is always more that you can learn. Here are some useful tips and checks to make to help you successfully complete your IT project.

Pre-Assessment Metrics

There are six metrics to calculate before you can begin the quality checks on your project. These are:

  1. Complete Tasks – those with an actual finish date.
  2. Incomplete Tasks – those without an actual finish date.

  3. Total Tasks – all tasks with the exception of summaries, milestone, zero baseline duration and sub-project tasks.

  4. Baseline Count – all tasks completed before the status project date.

  5. BEI Baseline Count – all tasks completed before the status project date, plus those that do not have a baseline start and finish date.

  6. Relationship Count – this includes finis-start (FS), start-finish (SF), finish-finish (FF) and start-start (SS) dependencies.

Quality Checks

Once you have completed your initial assessment, you can use the following checks:

  1. Lags check – there should be under 5% of tasks with lags in your schedule as they impact on the critical path.
  2. Leads check – leads, or negative lags, can have a negative impact on a project’s critical path. A successful, quality plan should have zero leads.

  3. Logic check – use this to find out if a subject is missing a predecessor or successor – all activities should have one of each. There should not be more than 5% of tasks missing logic.

  4. High float check – this check identifies tasks with a float of over 44 days and this figure should be under 5%. Activities with high floats are an indicator that the task is missing either a predecessor or successor.

  5. Negative float check – there should be zero tasks with a negative float and this check will identify these.

  6. Hard constraints check – this is for any activities that have time-related constraints, such as when they must start or finish. This check identifies those tasks with hard constraints and it is important that there is no more than 5% of these.

  7. Relationship types check – to get a logical flow in your schedule, at least 90% of the tasks will need to have a finish to start relationship.

  8. High duration check – any task that has a baseline of duration is described as high duration. There should be under 5% of these because, ideally, these tasks should be broken down into smaller tasks.

  9. Missed tasks check – while accepting that some tasks will be completed late, it is important to align the current schedule dates with the baseline schedule dates. This check searches for tasks that fall outside of this.

  10. Invalid dates check – this checks through the scheduled dates of each task to make sure that the are within the start and finish project status dates.

  11. Resources check – all tasks should have resources connected to them and this check finds any that don’t.

  12. Critical path test check – to test the integrity of your schedule, you need to deliberately input an additional 600 days into the remaining amount of time on the critical path test. If the project finish date and the added duration finish date match, then your schedule passes the test.

  13. Critical Path Length Index (CPLI) – this determines how realistic your finish date is when taking into account the forecasted finish date.

  14. Baseline Execution Index (BEI) – this compares the number of tasks actually completed to the number of tasks scheduled for completion at the same stage.

Including these pre-assessment metrics and quality checks as part of your IT project management framework is important to achieve project success.

Michelle Symonds is a qualified PRINCE2 Project Manager and believes that the right project management training can transform a good project manager into a great project manager and is essential for a successful outcome to any project.

There is a wide range of formal and informal training courses now available that include online learning and podcasts as well as more traditional classroom courses from organizations such as Parallel Project Training.

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