Isabel Leverrier November 10, 2020 Project Management
The next step in project management involves determining inter-task dependencies. Once the tasks have been listed and organized into a WBS, inter-task relationships need to be established. These relationships, also called dependencies or links, exist when the start or completion of one task is somehow related to the start or completion of another task. There are three types of inter-task dependencies: finish-start, start-start, and finish-finish. The tasks that must be performed first are called the predecessor tasks and those that follow are successor tasks.
Project Managers are all too familiar with the project triangle. We know we can shorten a schedule by either (a) reducing the scope of the project, or (b) adding more resources to it. Unfortunately, management either has not seen that triangle or, more likely than not, simply chooses to ignore it. Consequently, Project Manglers who are more interested in pleasing upper management than keeping honest have come up with their own universal algorithm for shortening project schedules. Take the number of days that need to be cut from the schedule, divide it by the number of major milestones, and then deduct that number from the duration of each milestone. In other words, if a project comprising of 4 major milestones is estimated to last 6 months, but you need to reduce it by one month, you`d take 20 days, and divide it by 4. Take the answer (5), and deduct it from the duration of each milestone. And voila! Works every time.
A detailed schedule is one of the best tools that a project manager can have. By scheduling yourself in advance to do all of the necessary management tasks, you stay much more organized throughout your project. You know exactly what you need to do to get started, what you need to do for the planning stage, and so on. Plus, before you commence work on your project, you can ask yourself: how often do I want to meet with my team? how often do I want to conduct project reviews? and schedule yourself to do these periodic tasks.
With simple projects, a tool such as a Gantt chart may make over complicate the project scheduling. Unless all team members are trained in the tool then the use of the tool may itself lead to poor communication and an unsatisfactory result. A simple project such as those identified above may only require a timetable and/or an action plan. All those in the project team should be communicated with as to their tasks content and timing. Timetables can then be negotiated and agreed, actions lists or diaries/calendars can be used for recording and planning purposes.
The business requirements state what is required but do not specify how the deliverable will actually work. So in many projects with a tangible and technically sophisticated deliverable, it is very common to produce additional documentation about the look and feel of the end product. The functional specification describes not only how the end product will look but also how an end-user will actually use it and what the user-experience will be like. This document should contain sections that specifically relate to each of the requirements in the business requirements document so that every functional item can be tracked back to an original business need.
Projects tend to slip for two reasons. Either Project Managers do not account for derivative activities such as vacation days when planning the overall project schedule, or they simply succumb to the pressure from management to compress the schedule. Now, present this schedule to the management team, and 8 times out of 10, the feedback you will get is "that`s too late". Eight times out of ten, you will be asked to revise the schedule and shorten it.