Planning for a miracle?
Opening up a scheduling tool and creating a project plan from a future deadline “backwards” to today, does not offer you a realistic chance for success. In essence, you are creating a plan that will take a miracle to succeed. By working in reverse, from the deadline to present day, you are “fitting the schedule” into a timeframe that may or may not be achievable. And, doing so without the input of the project team is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. Sure, the schedule might look good – it meets the deadlines after all – but you have given yourself no room for error… while, in effect, signing your team up for another “mission impossible” without their commitment. Of course, most projects have deadlines associated with them, and many are simply non-negotiable; but, there are a distinct set of best practices associated with aligning the project schedule with key deadline dates in a manner that conveys a realistic strategy. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone provided those best practices without all of the trial and error? PMAlliance’s Duration-Driven® Methodology answers the key questions project managers struggle with when trying to develop a realistic schedule:
- How do I develop a realistic project schedule that meets my deadlines?
- What is the best approach to ensure my project plan is accurate?
- What happens if my team’s initial strategy does not meet our deadlines?
- How can we build “wiggle room” into the plan, and preserve it?
- How do we figure out the right areas of the plan to focus on?
How Do We Address These Issues?
PMAlliance believes the most effective method to create a project plan that is realistic, accurate and offers the best opportunity for success is through a team-based planning approach that utilizes duration estimates as opposed to (the more common) effort estimates. This approach provides a more realistic depiction of how each team member’s burden will affect the ability to deliver their activities; and the associated impact on the overall schedule if activities begin to delay. The PMAlliance planning process marries together the team’s intended execution strategy, with the trade-offs that are needed in order to meet imposed deadlines. And, when (not if) the project schedule begins to drift off course, the methodology provides the team a laser focus on which activities need to be addressed in order to get the project back on-track.
What is Duration-Driven® Planning and Control?
Duration-Driven Planning and Control is a team-based methodology founded on the basic principle that in order to keep a team committed to a project schedule, they need to have input into building that schedule. Further, to more accurately reflect the fluctuation in their daily work schedule (various responsibilities, multiple projects, juggling priorities, etc.) they should plan their projects according to estimated durations instead of best-case effort approximations. This approach results in a network-based project schedule that more accurately reflects reality and is a higher quality work product. The methodology provides a clear set of guidelines, terminology and techniques to be used by the team during the project planning phase. Duration-Driven Methodology doesn’t stop with the development of a project plan; it extends into the critical importance of project control. The methodology addresses the entire project management lifecycle from initial stakeholder alignment, to schedule development, through the control process. Its comprehensive nature ensures participants gain value from project inception to close-out.
How does this methodology help develop a more realistic project plan?
Duration-Driven Planning and Control ensures project teams are adequately prepared to be productive participants in a team-based planning environment. The methodology distinguishes the differences between “how long an activity takes to complete” versus “how much effort is involved”. Duration-Driven® enlightens participants on the value of creating an initial plan which delivers the requested scope with high quality while keeping the cost of the project at a minimum. Subsequently, it explains the techniques for reducing the overall duration of a project plan that is not meeting its deadlines by making intelligent tradeoffs in either budget or scope as may be appropriate. In this methodology the network based project plan is not a one-time only event; it is a process that needs to be refreshed throughout the life of a project. Finally, Duration-Driven Planning and Control fosters a team environment where it is OK to tell the truth. This allows for proactive problem solving because “bad news” is learned as early as possible. This proactive problem solving is often the difference between success and failure!
How can I acquire these skills?
Duration-Driven Planning and Control is delivered during a 2-day instructor-led event. Throughout the two-day event, practical challenges are posed, participants engage in various group exercises and students learn how they can adapt the general techniques taught in the class to the unique aspects of their projects. At the conclusion of our program, participants will be well equipped to participate in creating comprehensive project plans, implement disciplined processes for maintaining those plans, and utilize management reviews to ensure deliverables are completed in a timely manner.