Scheduling Uncertainty

Dan Patterson

Dan is a globally recognized project analytics thought leader and software entrepreneur. With 20 years of experience and multiple highly successful Project Portfolio Management (PPM) software companies under his belt, Dan was the founder of Acumen (now part of Deltek) and is the inventor of Acumen Fuse, 360 and Acumen Risk.

You can't build realistic forecasts without taking into account potential risks. So when it comes to creating project schedules, why is risk so often addressed as a separate exercise? To properly accommodate for uncertainty we need to embed and intertwine these processes within our tools. We need risk-adjusted scheduling.

Twenty years ago, someone once told me that success is not trying to achieve unrealistic goals but instead chasing realistic ones. “Plan for what you believe you can achieve and then work hard against that plan,” they said. “Get that right and you will win.” With hindsight they were absolutely right. I think this is especially true for projects.

We all know project management is about planning the work and then working the plan. However, project planning and project execution carry one very big difference: you only get to execute once, yet you have the luxury of planning over and over.

Think of planning as the test run before the real deal. However, project failure is widely reported as the norm rather than the exception, so why even bother planning once, let alone multiple, times during a project? What makes us think we can forecast a multi-year project completion date, for example, down to the nearest day? Seems like whatever we do, we get it wrong.

Perhaps we don’t actually get it wrong — instead we get it…

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