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There are dozens of good techniques to help you better manage your schedule. In this column we will look at five.
Be Cautious About Having too Much Slack in the Schedule
There is only one path through the schedule that does not have any slack or float. This is the critical path and it will drive the end-date. Although every other path in the schedule has some slack, there might be some concern if there is too much slack. “Too much slack” means that the other paths have many long gaps when no work needs to be done. This can lead to a long “skinny” network diagram. The potential implication of having too much slack in the schedule is as follows:
Many resources are coming and going in and out of the project, and this can cause potential problems making sure everyone is available when needed and for as long as needed.
If you use the same resources off the critical path, you may have to mix in non-project work for them when they do not have project work to do. You may assign them a few weeks of project work, then find other work for them during the slack time, and then make sure they are available for you again when they have more project work assigned.
There may be a lack of urgency on the part of all resources that are not on the critical pathThis can be de-motivating to the resources on the critical path.
Of course there may not be a problem with this occurrence. But it is an area to be aware.
Be Cautious About Having too Little Slack in the Schedule
Just as there is risk with having too much slack, there is also some risk associated with not having very much slack. If this happens, minor schedule slippages off the critical path could force these paths critical as well. Schedules without much slack off the critical path are at more risk of schedule slippage.
"Just Right" Slack
It would be better if the project schedule could be built in such a way that the non-critical paths were “full but not too full” so that a group of resources could be utilized more efficiently on the project.
Determine if You Will Capture Actual Effort Hours
A very early decision needs to be made as to whether you will capture actual effort hours on the schedule. Capturing actual effort hours requires much more diligence on behalf of the project team to keep track of their time per activity and report it back accurately. There is a lot of value associated with capturing actual effort hours, including helping make future estimates more accurate. Collecting actual effort hours is usually something that is required on an organization-wide basis - not one project at a time.
Enter Work on Your Schedule in Chronological Order
Although schedule activities can be added in any order, it is easier to understand the schedule if you list the activities in chronological order. That is, the earlier activities should be at the beginning of the schedule and the later activities should be listed in the general order that they will be executed.