There is a project manager in all of us. All project managers want to organize and complete projects on time with quality and within the budget. Effective project scheduling helps project managers to keep projects on track. This typically results in reduced costs and increased customer satisfaction. How do you get the most from your project management solution?
In our first discussion on Tips for effective project scheduling, Vijay Delmade pulled from his experience from working with customers as well as his personal experience as a project manager to outline the basics of getting started with a good schedule and managing resources. Let’s continue this discussion with tips for managing critical paths, dependencies and other constraints.
Tip 14: Critical Path Method: Identify, review, monitor project critical path
Project managers always want to know how the end dates of the project changes as tasks and resource requirements change. It is crucial to know the critical path, as if a single task is late on the critical path, the end date of the entire project will also be late.It is advised to regularly view the critical path as the critical path changes dynamically and closely monitor critical tasks slippage as it affects the finish date. Use of baseline and Gantt view facilitates this activity.
Using schedule manager capabilities in Teamcenter, a schedule coordinator can view critical path in the tree table and Gantt view along with baseline.
Tip 15: Critical Path Method: Optimizing tasks on the critical path.
The task dependencies determine the sequence in which the tasks are performed.Slack time or float is the period of time for which a task can be delayed without impacting its successor tasks. A task that has zero slack time or float is on the critical path because any delay in the start of the task impacts the finish date of the schedule. Project manager can assess the risks to the schedule by tacking the progress and status of the critical tasks. Task on critical path. Task near critical path. Available float.
Using schedule manager capabilities in Teamcenter, a schedule coordinator can view critical path and view a task’s predecessor, successor. Slack time is displayed in the Time Slack column, but it is not a direct property on the task and cannot be edited. A coordinator can experiment with constraints, new dependencies, editing the lags and recalculating the schedule to devise an optimal critical path.
Tip 16: Critical Path Method: Prioritize critical tasks
It becomes important to identify the bottlenecks on the critical path in order to fix them and avoid any consequences. Project managers should find such critical tasks and address them immediately.
Using schedule manager capabilities in Teamcenter, a schedule coordinator can use the task tree table to locate first red critical task to act on and additionally can scroll in to Gantt view.
Tip 17: Dependencies: No dependencies for summary tasks
Avoid creating predecessor/successor task relationships between summary tasks. A task structure that has dependencies among summary tasks is not recommended.
Tip 18: Dependencies: Tasks with no dependencies.
Ideally only the first task should be entered without a predecessor. Any task which does not have a predecessor should have the first task as its predecessor. Similarly, only the last task should be entered without a successor. Any task which does not have a successor should have the last task as its successor. Keep in mind that summary tasks should have no predecessors or successors.
Using schedule manager capabilities in Teamcenter, a schedule coordinator can very well create the structure as mentioned above.
Tip 19: Dependencies: Represent external dependencies in schedule
There are external dependencies outside the boundary of the current project which have an effect on current schedule. Represent external dependencies in schedule in milestone format.
Using schedule manager capabilities in Teamcenter, a schedule coordinator can use milestones as a proxy to represent external dependencies.
Tip 20: Constraints: Mostly use “as soon as possible” constraint
When we use too many specific date constraints on tasks then for every schedule change project manager needs to manually edit every task with such constraints. Project manager should use logically “as soon as possible” constraint type on most tasks.
Using schedule manager capabilities in Teamcenter, a schedule coordinator can set “as soon as possible” constraints on its tasks.
Leveraging these tips can help you get the most from your schedule management tool. We have one more installment on this discussion! We’ll wrap it up in a couple weeks with some tips for estimating time, executing against your schedule and managing change.
Other discussions in this series include:
- Seven Tips on How to Build a Solid Schedule by PMI.ORG
- Chapter 9 “Project Scheduling” From Subject “Project Planning and Scheduling” from Semester 3 -MBA Course -Sikkim Manipal University,India
- 7 useful tips for effective Project Schedule Management by Avi Dasgupta LinkedIn.
About the Author
Vijay Delmade is Technical Product Manager at Siemens PLM software, based in India. As a part of the Teamcenter applications product management team, he is responsible for Schedule Manager. He has more than 12 years of experience in research and development of CADPLM software products. Vijay holds diploma in Railway engineering, B.E. degree in Mechanical, and MBA in Project management.