Planning By Consensus

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.

So much hinges on the project schedule, yet so few team members contribute to it. Whatsmore, they typically don’t care about critical paths, constraints and other building blocks; they just want to know “what, where and when.” We're overdue for consensus-based planning tools that bridge execution and analytics.

Developing a project schedule is a funny process. It reminds me of the game “pin the tail on the donkey” where the objective is to locate, as accurately as possible, a specific location when blindfolded while listening to your team guide you to the target. A lot gets lost in translation when you are blindfolded. Determining an accurate completion date on a multi-year project is in many ways analogous.

Project plans are, at the end of the day, a forecast and are typically built using Critical Path Methodology (CPM) tools such as MS Project and Primavera. One of the challenges of accurate CPM scheduling is that the person in charge of building the schedule needs to have a very in-depth understanding of the mechanics and building blocks behind  CPM scheduling. Typically, this person or team is a very small subset of the larger project team. Ironically though, while developed by a very small number of individuals (often just one). The schedule or forecast established in these tools is then the blueprint agreed upon by the project at large (and even …

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