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Thursday, 29 September 2016 04:12

How to Build a Schedule

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This content is from the TenStep weekly "tips" email dated 2016.28.09

How to Build a Schedule
Even if You Do Not Know All the Details


The project manager is the person with the responsibility to successfully plan and execute the project. He is the person who must create the schedule and believe in it. Even if the schedule was developed by someone else, the project manager must review, modify and own the timeline and the deliverables to be produced.

However, the project manager does not always have the expertise to build the plan entirely on his own. There are two main approaches for gathering the information required to complete the schedule.

1.     Create a draft and circulate to stakeholders

In this approach, the project manager creates an initial draft of the schedule. This will be a best guess draft of the work that needs to be completed during the project. When the draft is completed, it is circulated to the stakeholders for feedback. The stakeholders can include subject matter experts, or people that have knowledge in certain aspects of the project.

During the review process, work is added, changed or deleted. The project manager takes the feedback and incorporates it into the final schedule, which is then used going forward in the project. This approach results in a well-developed schedule and provides opportunities for feedback and buy-in from the stakeholders. 

The main disadvantage of this approach is that each person or group is only commenting on the work in their particular areas of expertise. They cannot see the holistic schedule. The project manager must ensure that the input from the various stakeholders is integrated into a viable schedule.

2.     Build the WBS and schedule through direct stakeholder involvement

In this approach, the schedule is built through one or more live sessions with the major stakeholders and experts. All the stakeholders participate in a facilitated session for one or more days to gain consensus on what needs to be done. If the project is large, you may need to meet with the major stakeholders in groups. For instance, you may have facilitated sessions with each functional department. Each department has a specific way of viewing the project, but a complete schedule can be generated by consolidating the various session results.

This approach has the advantage of having active engagement and participation from the stakeholders. The groups can also view the schedule in a more holistic manner. They should have complete buy-in to the work that needs to be done and to their role.

The biggest disadvantage might be that it is more time-consuming for the stakeholders. Instead of spending an hour commenting on their portion of the schedule, the entire group may need to be engaged for a longer period of time to work through the details of their work plus others as well. In fact, the duration required to complete the schedule may be shorter since groups are working together, but there is likely a greater time commitment on the part of each participant.  

In both of these approaches, the project manager will end up with a schedule that was created with input from experts. The project manager will then own the schedule during the project.
At TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit www.TenStep.com or contact us at admin@TenStep.com
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