Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How To Write a Production Schedule

Whatever project management software you use , there are two key immutable factors in setting a project timeline. There is today and then the due date. All goals, milestones, tasks, to-dos, steps, (insert your PM software nomenclature), must fit between these two unmistakable dates.

Rhetorically, I state production schedules are easy to write, because you have the above known factors, but now comes the negotiating part. If everything fits, fine, and consider yourself blessed. If all the steps' durations don't fit, what happens? I call it C & C. Compression, the durations that must be shortened, and Compromise, the effect caused by the Compression.

Compression exists, if your goals, milestones et. al. are predetermined and consistent. Compression does not exist, if you already have float time built in to your durations.

Compromise will take one or more of the following forms:
  • Extending the timeline
  • Cost overruns, due to personnel overtime, rush charges, anything that exceeds the cost of the project to achieve the deadline
  • Quality, by holding the timeline, process and costs, most likely this will suffer
  • Other - fill in the blank
My experience has shown:
  • Costs to be the chosen element to give
  • Deadlines don't typically change
  • Compression is common
  • The process should never change, especially approval steps
  • It doesn't matter if the  project is internal or external, the compromising forms are the same
Customers, internal or external, are more likely to forgive if it's late and never forgive if it's wrong. The key is to communicate all schedule changes, and their effects, to everyone in the stream, especially the client.

I hope you can use this blog as guiding principles for project management. I may have saved you $500 for PMP certification.

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