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Project Time Management

Project time management is one of the most critical factors for determining the success of a project. After all as all experienced project manager’s know, scope, cost, time, and quality are the four pillars for managing IT projects. Failure to manage even one of these can have a disastrous effect on the other three and the chance for project failure will increase significantly.

Project time management essentially deals with monitoring and controlling the time spent on the project. For project time management, you need to perform certain key tasks. These tasks are listed below:

1.0 Identify The Activities

To achieve the project objective, you need to identify the list of tasks to be performed. Divide each of these tasks to the most granular level. This exercise will help you create a project schedule. The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a useful tool for the hierarchical breakdown of all the work required to be performed on the project to meet the project management requirements. It is a deliverable-oriented approach for defining the work packages. This exercise needs to be done with the project team.

2.0 Identify The Sequence Of Each Activity

: After creating the list of activities, the next step is to arrange the activities in a logical sequence. This should be a group activity with active participation from the project team. Network diagrams are often used to arrive at the logical sequence of activities. Some networking techniques used for sequencing activities are:

2.1 Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM)

In this approach, the activities are depicted by boxes called nodes, and arrows are used to connect the nodes. There are different types of relationships between the activities. These are: Finish-to-start, Start-to-start, Finish-to-finish, and Start-to-finish.

2.2 Arrow Diagramming Method (ADM)

In this approach, activities are arranged sequentially by using arrows. This method uses the finish-to-start relationship between activities.

2.3 Conditional Diagramming Method (CDM)

In this approach, the Graphical Evaluation and Review Technique (GERT) is used. This involves branching and looping of activities based on probable estimates.

3.0 Identify The Resources For Each Task

The next step involves identifying the team members who will perform the tasks, from the available resource pool. You can perform this exercise in consultation with subject matter experts and team leaders after analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each team member. After completing this exercise, you would have defined the number and types of resources required to complete each work package.

4.0 Identify The Duration Of Each Task

You need to fix a duration within which each task should be completed. This can be done in consultation with your team/team leaders. Accurate estimates at this level are imperative for the success of the project. Certain tools and techniques used for estimating the duration of activities are listed below:

5.0 Expert Judgment

This is one of the most commonly used techniques for estimating the duration of activities. Subject matter experts, team leaders, and other resources who have worked on similar projects in the past can provide expert judgment.

6.0 Analogous Estimation

This technique requires analyzing previous projects to estimate the duration of the activity.

7.0 Parametric Estimation

This technique involves using mathematical formulae to estimate the duration of the activity.

8.0 Three-Point Estimates

This technique is used for improving the accuracy of the activity duration estimate and requires analyzing the most likely, optimistic, and pessimistic estimates for the activity.

9.0 Reserve Analysis

This technique involves incorporating additional contingency reserves in the overall project schedule. It can either be a fixed amount or a percentage of the activity duration. The contingency reserve may be partially or completely exhausted at the end of the project.

10.0 Develop The Schedule

The next step in project time management is developing the schedule by using the list and sequence of activities, resource estimation, and duration for each activity. This is a live document which will need to be updated throughout the project.

11.0 Schedule Control

This is the last but the most important step in project time management. This involves determining the current project status, analyzing the factors that trigger a schedule change, modifying the schedule to reflect the changes, and managing changes.

Project Time Management - Tip

Whilst creating a project plan, you should always ensure that the duration of any activity should not exceed longer than four to six weeks for a long duration project.

Similarly, for a small duration project it should not exceed more than 24 hours. Limiting the duration of activities gives you better control for monitoring your project progress.

In reality these skills merely help you in delivering your project, but if for example you are clueless in Microsoft Project and can only knock up a plan on a piece of paper, you will still successfully deliver as long as you ensure the principles of project management above are adhered to.

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