Project Management

More schedule tasks to do before you baseline

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Last month, I wrote about 3 things to include in your schedule creation activity before you could say your schedule is ready for use, after you’ve created the work breakdown structure and added in dates, dependencies and task owners. Here are another 3 things you can build into your project planning tasks to polish your schedule.

tasks for schedule

1. Add in the costs

One thing we’re doing at work more and more is cost loading schedules. You don’t have to do this in your project scheduling software unless it makes sense to do it there. You could also create a phased version of your budget that shows when costs are going to hit.

Adding costs into the schedule to each individual task is a more accurate and detailed view, and then if work is rescheduled or delayed, the costs move too. However, you can get started with a simple spreadsheet where you phase the forecasted budget across the months of delivery and then record the actuals.

You can do this as a practice exercise if you want to give it a go, even if you don’t have external costs. Resource costs are normally a huge chunk of budget, so if you are tracking time, you can match up how many hours/days were worked against the forecasted effort in the week/month and use that to phase the costs by activity.

2. Look for float

Float is where a task has the ‘luxury’ of being able to start or finish later than the dates on the plan and not affect the critical path.

Look out for the tasks with wiggle room – where you could let them slip a day or so or start them early and overall it has no impact on your ability to deliver to the agreed end date. Personally, I like to get ahead with those tasks because you never know when the resources or work might change later and you need that time for something else, for example a team member going off sick.

However, some tasks are better done in a just-in-time way, so don’t bring forward those. You risk rework if you do something too early that might need to be changed later, even if there isn’t a formal task that would drive the change. For example, project communications can be drafted early but might need to change if the context changes, and if you are going through a transformation or strategic reset, the direction of travel might change mid-project causing you some more effort later.

3. Check in with stakeholders

It should go without saying, but given that I’ve reviewed project plans created by the project manager with no input from the team when I’m mentoring project managers, I feel it does warrant a note – check your schedule with the stakeholders.

I do create a high level overview with as much detail as I can before I share it with the rest of the team, because it saves time, and the alternative is having a giant workshop for planning. And frankly, we don’t have time for that (I know, I know…. The irony of not having the time to plan!). If we’ve had phone calls and conversations, there is probably enough I can glean from those to put together an outline and fit it to our project methodology.

But the plan is not workable and achievable unless the key members of staff doing the work have signed off on it.

A project schedule is a working document, so even when it has been around the team for discussion and refinement, it will need to be revised later on.

Posted on: April 10, 2024 02:43 PM | Permalink

Comments (5)

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Nada Shurrab Dar Al Omran Architect Planning Engineering Company Amman, Al-Jubaiha, Jordan
Thank you…

ALAA ELSAYED The expertise house for engineering Consultants Co Riyadh, Ar Riyad, Saudi Arabia
Thank you…

Kwiyuh Michael Wepngong Financial Management Specialist | US Peace Corps / Cameroon Yaounde, Centre, Cameroon

Md. Golam Rob Talukdar Project Manager| AWR Development (BD) Ltd. Cox's Bazer , Bangladesh
Thanks for your information

Kwiyuh Michael Wepngong Financial Management Specialist | US Peace Corps / Cameroon Yaounde, Centre, Cameroon

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