How About A Realistic Schedule?

Vincent is a Senior Project Management Consultant and e-Learning Developer.

Too many projects are driven by an overly optimistic schedule where the probability of meeting the end date with an acceptable deliverable is very low. Then, poorly planned attempts to meet those unrealistic dates result in problems that not only cause dates to slip, they compromise quality.

While a project plan contains more than just a schedule, the schedule is arguably the most important aspect of that plan. For the project team, the schedule defines what they need to do and when they need to do it. Outside of the project team, it is the most visible element of the plan, and many consider it to be the plan.

The project team is tasked with creating the end product of the project. The schedule, developed with their input, lays out how they, as a team, are to go about creating it. It should reflect project priorities, the best sequence, and the integration of all of the work of the individual contributors. As we will see, a good schedule will have a lot to do with the delivery date, and not just by predicting that date. It will also impact the final quality of the end product. And, the project is really not over until the customer is satisfied with the quality of the product.

Management needs to know the key milestones, especially the completion date of the project. Then they set customer expectations — when can each customer expect to receive promised …

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