sticky notes for team members to jot
down various activities, and then puts
them up on a white board to see how
the schedule flows. As activities are discussed, Ms. Staley moves the notes
around so tasks develop a logical flow
and the team can come to agreement on
their estimated duration.
Mr. Pegg says in one AstraZeneca division, a peer review group reviews schedules
and pulls in other people as needed on an
ad hoc basis. Before the process was instituted, “asking for help could be seen as a
weakness,” he says. Now it’s viewed as a
way to encourage others to help identify
possible threats and opportunities. Then,
when the schedule is presented to senior
managers, they know it “has the blessing
of others in the organization.”
Ms. Weber takes a similar approach.
Once the project tasks are spelled out,
she sits down with a technical expert to
get reasonable time estimates. She asks
for best-case, worst-case and typical
scenarios, and then tries to devise an
estimate based on resources, time constraints and assumptions.
Project managers should take
the opportunity to reach out and
ask questions—before it’s too late.
But sometimes experts bristle
at the intrusion, Mr. Arivazhagan acknowledges. They
might even say, “Don’t you trust
me?” to which he responds, “Yes,
but you do your job, and I’ll do
mine to decrease the risk.”
To make that happen, project managers need clear objectives from the
project sponsor, a common picture of
the desired outcome of the project, and
precise, concrete and tangible measures
that team members can use to be sure
they’re on track. And they also need
milestones in place to monitor their
progress. Without dates, it can be maddeningly vague.
Mr. Simko says he cringes if a software developer says the team is 60 percent done.
“That’s so nebulous,” he says.
Instead, Mr. Simko wants to know how
far along the project is compared to the
schedule and if more people must be
added to meet deadlines.
Mr. Garrison recommends identifying
milestones that can’t be missed. If the
team is building an office tower in
India, for example, the project manager
will want to confirm the completion
date to make sure the structure is
enclosed before monsoon season.
Project managers must also consider
the possibility of resource limitations
Stakeholders have had their
say, and the team has been
selected and offered its input,
so now it’s time to actually
build the schedule.
Where do you start?
At the end, says Guido
Quelle, Ph.D., managing partner
at Mandat Managementberatung
GmbH, a management consulting firm in Dortmund,
time is on their side
Scheduling gurus can now back up their expertise with their very own certification,
the new PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)® credential.
“It shows you are taking the time, energy and effort to enhance your professional development,” says Janice Staley, PMI-SP, PMP, Envision Consultants Ltd.
In the course of studying for the credential, for example, she tapped into the
collective wisdom of other students who belonged to an online study group to
discuss issues and questions as they arose. In the process, she found that other
professionals had “different ways of interpreting scheduling terms in the standard.”
Ms. Staley encourages other master schedulers to seek the credential. “Anyone
working in the realm of development and control of schedules should definitely
take the exam,” she says.
Being an early adopter of the certification is proving to be a boost in business
for Ondiappan Arivazhagan, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP, PMP, International Institute of
Project Management. “A third party now vouches for my skills,” he says.
Project managers can learn more about
PMI’s scheduling credential online at: