12 April at 07:00AM
PM Tips: Review Your Schedule’s Health in Six Easy Steps
One of the core tools in project management is the schedule. Project managers can keep track of all aspects that occur during a project. The schedule determines the project’s start and end dates and ensures that the project stays on track. It is also a resource that retains information to perform different types of analysis and run reports to determine the project’s performance.
Schedule building is an important part of the project plan. It’s valuable to pay attention to schedules throughout the process.
There are scheduling software programs that includes reports to determine whether a schedule’s health is good enough to start tracking a project or whether more scheduling refinements are needed. A full schedule health report reviews 14 different schedule points, I’ll introduce you to the six points that will aid in your schedule’s health.
You can even test this out with one of your own schedules and apply these quick revisions!
Review your schedule start and finish activities. The schedule should have one Start Milestone that triggers all the initial activities, and one Finish Milestone that closes the whole schedule.
The rule here is: Less than 5% of the total activities must be lacking a predecessor or successor.
Having more activities without links, could show you a wrong critical path, or even worse, you could lose track of some of these activities during the execution.
What happens if you have multiple finish milestones, or multiple activities that marks the closing of a project? In this case, you should link all these activities to a unique finish milestone. The same case applies to multiple start activities.
A good schedule must be clear, not only for the PMs but for other related stakeholders that may review the schedule. The clarity of a schedule is determined by the types of relationships between the activities. Keep a schedule as simple as possible. A key tip is that 90% of the schedule relationships should be Finish to Start.
Depending on the scheduling software, the time constraints could appear with different names. The hard constraints are those that might violate the scheduling logic, commonly named Must finish on, and Must start on. These kinds of constraints pin the activities on specific dates and block the dynamic nature of the scheduling tools. Hard constraints should represent no more than 5% of incomplete activities in your schedule.
The total float is a good indicator of what is happening in the schedule. A high total float could mark missing predecessor or successor activities.
All the activities, excluding milestones, must have resources, human or monetary.
Let’s imagine that you update actual dates in the schedule every week. Activities that last more than four updates are High Duration Activities. These activities are difficult to manage and usually can be split in more than one direct. Once you identify high duration activities in your schedule, try to split them to ease the schedule management.
How are your activities named? Try naming them with only a verb and a subject. Doing so will be enough to give you a clear idea of what is happening in this activity. The best part? You can identify if any activity should be split into more than one activity.
Give It a Try
Did you identify one or more points to improve in your schedule? Using these tips is a great start to raise the schedule health and increase the probability of success in your projects!