While the project schedule is an important tool for many project managers, it is often misunderstood (or not understood at all) by project team members. When building the work breakdown structure (WBS) for the project, you will get a more accurate definition of scope (and as a result, the schedule) by involving the team and letting them own the decomposition of the deliverables. It is also important to stress to the team what benefits they get from having the scope fully defined and contributing to the ongoing updates to the project schedule. For organizations that have adopted the proactive scheduling approach, these are some of the common benefits to team members:
Reduced over-allocation: When schedules have complete dependency networks and incomplete work is rescheduled each week, the typical pileup of work is avoided. With resource manager commitments to allocations, there are also typically fewer conflicts across projects.
Visibility into planned work and priorities: Project team members see a complete list of tasks with dates and priorities.
Accurate forecasting of project time availability: Organizations develop better forecasts when they choose to capture all time and identify how much work is spent on projects vs. ongoing support activities.
Push prioritization decisions back on management: Frequent interruptions by senior executives with urgent requests for support can be better managed when team members are able to show a list of scheduled work and priorities. Stephen Covey’s famous dialog with a team member: “I’m happy to help with your request, Stephen. Which of these existing project tasks would you like me to postpone? Would you like me to notify the project manager or will you do that?”
Managers can now see how hard team members actually work: If resources work 60-plus hours each week to get all the work done, there’s usually a long-term impact and potentially high employee turnover.
The above will help answer the “What’s in it for me?” question and should get you more participation from team members when updating the status of the project schedule. It’s a “win-win” if project managers get the input they need from the team to build the best possible schedule, and team members get a more structured working environment with visibility and reduced over-allocation.
Another “win-win” is between project managers and the project sponsor and key stakeholders. All too often, we neglect to ask what the success criteria are for the project and whether time, quality or cost is more important. Managing the triple constraints and reporting against key performance indicators will enable senior management to make better decisions and provide guidance for corrective action. This, in turn, gets the project manager’s buy-in on the project schedule and commitment to a formal project management approach.
This excerpt is from the new book, Proactive PPM with Microsoft Project 2016 for Project Online and Project Server: A best practices guide for project managers, written by Kenneth Steiness and Dale Howard and published by Sensei Project Solutions.
Read “Habit 1: Be Proactive” here.
Read “Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind” here.
Read “Habit 3: Put First Things First” here.
Written by Kenneth Steiness
Kenneth Steiness PMP/PMI-SP MCP MCT is an industry expert on Microsoft Project and Project Server and has worked in the project management and scheduling field for over 16 years. He has managed customer engagements in over 13 countries worldwide and throughout the United States, in addition to presenting at world-wide conferences for Microsoft, PMI, and to many Microsoft Project User Groups over the years. Kenneth is the Managing Partner & VP of Delivery of Sensei Project Solutions, a Microsoft Partner specializing in Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) deployments with Microsoft Project and Project Server on the SharePoint platform. Sensei offers a complete set of services to help an organization make their Microsoft PPM deployment successful, including full implementation and services, training as well as pre-configured solutions and report packs. Visit senseiprojectsolutions.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
View all posts by: Kenneth Steiness