Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Project Manager’s Cycle – Reschedule/Replan

“What do you mean ‘You’re going to be gone for four weeks starting next month?,’” asked Alice, after picking up the phone on one of the rare occasions she was actually at her desk and listening to Ravi explain his new vacation plans.  “But … well, you didn’t know.  I just found out that Infrastructure is slipping their schedule so we’re going to need you until the end of the month after all.”
Now we transition from initiation activities to planning and design within The Project Manager’s Cycle. 
If it hasn’t been done already, all the team member updates from the metric validation and the task validation need to be posted to the project schedule, including closing completed tasks, updating effort estimates, and opening tasks ready to start.  Your perfect plan from last week is now corrupted from just one week of actual results – new end dates, team members who are now over allocated,  team members who won’t be available as previously planned due to conflicts or newly planned absences, newly exposed issues, political maneuvering, prioritization conflicts, team member conflicts, and stakeholder conflicts.
Now you, the project manager, apply intelligence to scheduling, adjusting start dates, shuffling tasks, balancing resource allocations, and drawing on schedule buffers as needed.  Sure, your scheduling tool “auto schedules” and probably has an option to load-balance resources.  However, the rule engines for these are notorious for making obscene messes of your schedule.  Depending on the need to maintain the original target dates and prevent slippage, you may need to consider adding resources, overloading resources (OT), reducing scope, and crashing the schedule.
As a further part of this activity, you will also address event-driven activities, such as unplanned/dynamic impacts, deliverable acceptances, reprioritization, issues, problems, commitments, and the other conflicts mentioned above.  This may involve adding project tasks, reassessing resource assignments and allocations, changing task estimates and getting team members to re-estimate their task assignments.
The end result is a new draft schedule that you have to validate and “socialize,” which transitions us to the next activity in The Project Manager’s Cycle and sets the stage for my next post.
Unlike most of the other activities in The Project Manager’s Cycle, rescheduling and replanning is not something that is done and then completes.  Rather, every thing you as the PM does has the potential to expose a need to adjust the schedule;  adjusting the schedule has the potential to expose the need to further adjust the schedule or to take some action that will … well, it’s called The Project Manager’s Cycle for a reason.  This keeps happening ever and forever for the life of the project.    You are constantly restarting this activity.  Plan on it.
How do you live with yourself when you have the perfect project plan?

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