Chris Croft
Project Management

The 12 Steps to Successful Project Management

 
       
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Define the Project

List the tasks

Estimate times and costs for each task

Find the critical path

Consider crashing or overlapping critical tasks

Draw Gantt (bar) chart

Calculate resource requirements over time

Assess risks, and prepare action plans

Monitor progress to the Gantt chart

Monitor cumulative cost

Communicate progress and changes

Review: learn and praise

About The Author

7. Calculate resource requirements over time

  • Adjust using float of non-critical tasks
  • You may be planning the loading (people required) for just one large project, or perhaps a collection of small projects
  • An excel spreadsheet can be a good way to do this, using trial and error and looking at the column totals, or you may prefer to move pieces of cardboard around on a square grid
  • The columns in your spreadsheet may be in hours worked per week per person, or days per week, or fractions of a person employed in each week.
  • If your project is time limited the question is “without breaking the critical path, what’s the smoothest profile we can get by moving the floating tasks around, and how high does the profile go?”
  • If your project is resource limited the question is “How long will it take us with the limited number of people that we have?”.
  • In order to answer this you may have to break the critical path and take longer. Note that this creates a new critical path, so different jobs will require careful monitoring during the carrying out of the project.
  • Tricks for time limited projects are to crash or overlap tasks – these have a cost in terms of money and/or quality
  • Tricks for resource limited projects are breaking a task and finishing it later, and stretching a task (doing it with half a person taking twice as long) which also have a cost in terms of money and/or quality
  • If a project is both time and resource limited then the quality will probably have to be reduced – not ideal!
  • A loading plan is well worth having, even though the reality will be different – people will join and leave the project, be ill, etc. But you still need a plan to be able to roughly plan, and without a plan you could start a project with a promised progress rate that is going to be impossible to achieve.
  • The plan needs to include holidays booked by team members.
  • Your load plan will give you a logical base from which to argue against interferences like people being taken off your project, or other work being pushed in as a higher priority. These are OK as long as the clearly-visible resulting effects on your project are agreed with all.