Project Time Management
One of the key jobs of the project manager is to ascertain if the project can meet its required end date, and develop options to ensure this will occur. This must all occur before project execution begins. Therefore the predominance of the processes in Time Management occurs in the planning phase; each process occurring in logical order, culminating in the development of the schedule. The purpose of the time management process is to determine a scheduling method, select a scheduling tool, and collect project information to produce a schedule model. The schedule model is used to create the project schedule.
Plan Schedule Management
The Plan Schedule Management process defines policies, procedures, and documentation for managing and controlling the project schedule. Like the other management plans that are created as outputs to other knowledge areas, the schedule management plan can be formal or informal, generalized or highly detailed. The schedule management plan is usually used to establish the following:
- Scheduling methodology and tool
- Level of accuracy - used to determine control thresholds at which action can be taken
- Units of measure - defined for each resource which can include people, facilities, equipment, etc.
- Organizational procedure links that tie back to the WBS
- Project schedule model maintenance - used to update status and record progress of the project
- Control thresholds - the specific limits at which corrective actions may need to be taken. This can be ascertained in the form of a variance analysis
Rules of performance measurement - can be expressed in terms of earned value management rules or other measurement rules of performance and can specify any of the following:
- Rules for establishing percent complete
- Control account levels
- Earned value measurement techniques
- Schedule performance measurements including schedule variance (SV) and the schedule performance index (SPI)
- Reporting formats - formats and frequency of reports
- Process descriptions
Critical Chain Method
The critical chain method is based on Eliyahu Goldratt's Theory of Constraints and described in some detail in the book Critical Chain Project Management by Lawrence P. Leach. It is a method of planning and managing projects that puts the main emphasis on the resources required to execute project activities. Contrasted to the Critical Path and PERT methods, which emphasize activity order and rigid scheduling, a Critical Chain project network will tend to keep the resources levelly loaded, but will require them to be flexible in their start times and to quickly switch between activities and activity chains to keep the whole project on schedule.
By cutting each task to its 50-50 estimate, we have reduced the project timeline by at least 50%. The project manager then adds a buffer to the end of the project timeline equal to 50% of the new timeline. The result is a project timeline that is automatically 25% shorter than the original critical path.
Critical Chain project managers expect resources:
- To start the task as soon as input is received
- to work on the task 100% - no multi-tasking
- Pass on the task output as soon as it is completed
Critical chain project management also utilizes a technique called a feeding buffer. The feeding buffer is used on noncritical path activities or on parallel path activities to protect the critical chain from slippage. The idea is that if any of the activities on the parallel path are delayed only part of the feeding buffer will be expended without pushing out the end date of the project.
PMP Exam Tip:
CCPM accounts for limited resources, adds duration buffers, and focuses on managing the time buffer and resources. With CPM, the focus is on managing float. With CCPM, the focus is on managing the buffers.
PMP Certification Exam - Project Time Management - Memory Check
- ___Plan schedule management
- ___Define activities
- ___Sequence activities
- ___Estimate activity resources
- ___Estimate activity durations
- ___Develop schedule
- ___Control schedule
A. The process of identifying and documenting relationship among the project activities
B. The process of estimating the number of work periods needed to complete individual activities with estimated resources
C. The process of analyzing activity sequences, durations, resource requirements, and schedule constraints to create the project model
D. The process of establishing the policies, procedures, and documentation for planning, developing, managing, executing, and controlling the project schedule
E. The process of monitoring the status of project activities to update project progress and manage changes to the schedule baseline to achieve the plan
F. The process of identifying and documenting the specific actions to be performed to produce the project deliverables
G. The process of estimating the type and quantities of material, human resources, equipment, or supplies required to perform each activity
Question 1: Management from the customer side wants to bring in a project one month earlier than they had originally planned. Based on the current project timeline, product testing will have to be cut short. You have reviewed several options with the customer; they have decided that crashing the schedule would be the best approach to bringing in the project earlier. As a result of customer’s decision, what is your biggest concern using this approach?
a. Additional expense
b. Availability of additional resources to perform testing in a shorter time frame
c. Customer buy-in
d. Developing an adequate reward system to address the overtime that will be needed to bring in this project one month early
Question 2: The blueprints for the new construction projects have been completed and construction is ready to begin. While the organization was thinking about erecting a modular structure, they decided on a more traditional approach. The foundation will be poured and cured before the framing begins. This is an example of:
a. Discretionary dependency
b. Mandatory dependency
c. External dependency
d. Internal dependency
Question 3: Your project is experiencing resource constraints at certain times in the project timeline, requiring you to adjust start and finish dates on the schedule. What tool is best to use in this situation?
a. Resource leveling
b. Feeding buffer
c. Critical Path method
d. Resource smoothing
Answer: B – Since the customer has decided that crashing is an option, answer ‘A’ has already been taken into consideration as well as answer ‘C’. Answer ‘D’ is a complete unknown at this point. Of the four answers, the biggest concern is whether the testing resources are actually available to do the job.
Answer: B - This is a clear example of a mandatory dependency; The foundation must set before you can start erecting the walls of the structure.
Answer: A – Resource leveling is the tool that is used in this situation. PMBOK® Guide, 5th edition, p. 179