Project Management

The Money Files

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A blog that looks at all aspects of project and program finances from budgets, estimating and accounting to getting a pay rise and managing contracts. Written by Elizabeth Harrin from RebelsGuideToPM.com.

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More schedule tasks to do before you baseline

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More schedule tasks to do before you baseline

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 (3)

How to reduce your project’s carbon footprint

In December I looked at how to reduce your project’s carbon footprint and provided a few ideas you could take into consideration when you’re working on a project.

One of the questions I got asked on that article was how have I seen these sustainability practices implemented effectively in projects?

Sustainability practices are easier to implement if there is corporate-wide mandated practices and the expectation that you will manage your project and create products in a sustainable way, but let me share a little of my experience.

carbon footprint mindmap

Carbon savings

When working out project benefits, include carbon saving as one of the metrics you will track, as long as your project does something that will reduce carbon. This could be by digitalizing a process so less paper is used, removing paper cups from coffee machines and replacing them with a ‘bring your own reusable cup’ policy in your project office or something else.

I’m aware that digital solutions also have a carbon footprint in that they use energy and land as there are vast data centres behind the scenes of every virtual meeting, so you’ll have to draw your own conclusions about whether the savings you are claiming are ‘real’ or not.

Many companies are now very much focused on energy saving and the equivalent carbon saving this equates to, so someone in your organization is likely to be able to tell you what measures are used in the business to track and report on carbon usage. Talk to your energy manager or the sustainability team if you have one, or someone in Finance who could help you work out what, if any, carbon savings you can reasonably track.

Ideally, the project’s deliverables would have a benefit that demonstrates carbon reduction, but if not, you could look to track carbon usage related to managing the project itself, for example, you could track number of journeys that did not happen because you chose to meet virtually instead.

Paper usage and waste recycling

A very small thing you can do on your project is to make sure that the team does not use excessive paper. Stop printing project board decks and meeting agendas. Make these available on digital solutions instead.

Use digital thank you cards instead of real ones (although you’ll have to weigh up the value in a digital one – some how for me, a physical card feels like it means more).

Travel

I mentioned avoiding meetings where the journey would create a carbon emission – see how much travel it is possible to cut out of your project. There’s probably some.

Supply chain

Even if your project is not buying anything in terms of goods, there are probably some items that you end up procuring, for example, lunches for workshops. Choose local suppliers using locally-sourced products.

Ask questions of your suppliers and see if there are choices to be made.

Document your decisions

The easiest way to make sure that you are living your goals and managing to make a carbon impact is to ensure your project management plan and documentation includes the commitment. Put your metrics in your benefits tracker. Put targets in the quality plan.

Make sure your schedule includes any specific actions you are going to do as a team. What other suggestions do you have for reducing your carbon footprint as a project team? Let us know in the comments section below!

Posted on: January 24, 2024 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)
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