Project outcomes are achieved through a variety of people exerting effort in many specific tasks.
Creating a Project Schedule
Every project delivers its outputs through people doing things – whether the output is a building, new procedures, an upgraded accounting system or a training package. The larger the project, the greater the variety of generalists and specialists involved and the more complex the interactions between them. Effective project task management involves the Project Manager in coordinating the activities of all of the players so that people are doing the right things at the right time and with the right equipment. For large projects, managing the project schedule can be quite an onerous task.
Firstly, you will need to organize the project tasks into groups of related activities centered on producing one output or deliverable. This could be a document, a machine component, a training module or a software file. For each activity and group of activities, figure out how long it will take and its relationship to the other project tasks. Some activities cannot start until another is finished or until another starts. Map out the order of activities and their dependencies. Popular methods for calculating and charting project tasks include:
- Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)
- Critical Path Method (CPM) and
- Gantt Chart
Fortunately, there are a number of project scheduling software packages available that can help you here.
Task Allocation and Resource Loading
Next comes the job of allocating the tasks to the various people involved in your project. There will be some periods of heavy activity and some periods where people could be waiting around for others to finish their tasks. Many project management software packages allow you to see where there are heavy resource demands and allow you to shift some of that to lighter periods.
It is an unusual project that goes to plan. You may need to shift project tasks around to accommodate unexpected eventualities, such as unplanned leave by a critical project team member. If this is not possible, you can delete the activity or bring in more resources.