Lab Exercise 6.01: Defining the Project ActivitiesIt’s essential for a project manager and the project team to accurately identify the projectactivities. You don’t want to get too far along in the project execution and realize that you forgotto include, estimate, and plan for project activities. Imagine the cost and time overruns, not tomention stakeholder frustrations, if you forget to include the cost and time estimates for activitiesin your project.In order to find the project activities, you’ll first need your project’s scope baseline. Recall thatthe scope baseline is the collection of the project scope statement, the WBS, and the WBSDictionary. These three documents will help you determine what activities are needed to createthe elements of the project scope. Chief among these, as you can imagine, is the project’s WBS.You’ll need to identify the activities that your project team will need to do in order to create thework packages of the WBS. The actual creation of the activity list is similar to the creation of theWBS, and it’s also called decomposition. The idea is that you’re decomposing the workpackages of the WBS to the activity list of your project.PMP For many projects, you can define the project activities right along with yourCoach creation of the WBS. There’s no real reason to fully decompose the WBS and ignore the activity list until the WBS is created. You can create, in many projects, the WBS and the corresponding activity list in unison.If an organization is completing the same types of projects, the project manager can, and should,rely on organizational process assets to help identify the project’s activity list. Basically theproject manager will take a similar project and adapt the activity list from the previous project tothe current project. The project manager should make certain that the activity list that is beingadapted to the current project, however, is accurate. It won’t do the project good to adapt a faultyactivity list from a previous project.The project manager is basically using an activity list template when she adapts a previousproject to a current project. It’s also common that some standard, prepopulated activities couldexist within a project’s activity list template. Consider all of the project management activitiesthat a project manager is required to do in an organization. These standard activities could bepart of an activity list template so that none of these important activities are forgotten by theproject manager or project team.Your organization may also use enterprise environmental factors as an input to the activity listcreation. The enterprise environmental factors are the rules that you’re required to follow in yourorganization and industry. For example, an organization can require that the project managerdocument the activity list using certain project management software and have the activity list
approved by the project sponsor. Some disciplines may require certain activities, such asinspections, audits, or reviews, as part of the project work.The best and most often used tool in creating the activity list is simply expert judgment. Expertjudgment requires the project manager, the project team, and other experts familiar with theproject work to examine the project requirements, the WBS, and the work packages to makecertain all of the needed project activities are identified in the activities list. Expert judgmentcould mean consultants, other project managers, and other resources within the organizationfamiliar with the work the project is to complete.As you create the project’s activity list, you should also include activity attributes. Theseattributes will evolve over time as more information becomes available in the project. Activityattributes can include A description of the activity Unique activity identification Associated WBS work package identification Predecessor and successor activities Any lead or lag information Resource requirements Imposed dates Constraints and assumptions Any other relevant information about the work packagesThe activity list can help the project team and stakeholders identify the milestone list in theproject. A milestone is a significant checkpoint in the project and shows progress toward theproject’s completion date. The project manager can see all of the required activities in the projectthat lead up to and create each project milestone. The milestone list is created and updatedthroughout project planning and is part of the overall project schedule.Learning ObjectivesIn this lab you’ll experiment with creating an activity list. You’ll examine an existing WBS andthen create a sample activity list to experience the process of WBS decomposition to the projectactivities. By the end of this lab you’ll be able to Identify the work packages of the WBS Decompose work packages into activities Organize the activity list by WBS components Explain the process of creating a project’s activity listCreate an Activity List You are the project manager of the HYU Project. This project’s mission is to educate your company’s employees about new software that will be implemented in the organization. The new software, called FACE, addresses the needs of the
organization’s facility management. As your company has grown, competition for meeting rooms, equipment, and other facilities has become more cumbersome to manage. The FACE software will address these concerns and will help employees submit, track, and organize requests for meeting rooms, facilities, and equipment that your company uses. Your project is to train and create a level of support for FACE. You, your project team, and several key stakeholders have worked together to create the WBS for the FACE Project. Now you will lead the project team in the process of identifying the needed activities for each work package. In the following table you’ll take each identified work package and define the needed activities to create the project deliverable. You don’t need to be familiar with training, development, or software creation to complete this exercise. The point of the exercise is to experience the concept of creating an initial activity list for a project based on the WBS. If you’re not certain what type of activities should come from the WBS component, you can search the Internet or just create sample activities for this exercise. WBS Component Associated Activities 457.1 FACE Training 457.1.1 Course Objectives 457.1.2 Course Exercises 457.1.3 FACE Course Book 457.1.4 FACE User Guide 457.2 Web Training 457.2.1 Web Site Structure 457.2.2 FACE Online Exercises 457.2.3 FACE Security 457.2.4 FACE FAQs 457.3 Help System 457.3.1 Structure 457.3.2 Software 457.3.3 Web Training 457.4 Guide Cards 457.4.1 Topics 457.4.2 FACE Writing 457.4.3 FACE Design 457.4.3 FACE Printed Cards
Lab Exercise 6.02: Sequencing the Project ActivitiesOnce you’ve identified the project activities, you need to put them into the order in which theyshould be completed. You’ll rely on your activity list, your activity attributes, the milestone list,your project scope statement, and any organizational process assets that are relevant. The goal inthis process is to not worry about task duration, but rather to identify the most logical order inwhich the activities should happen. Over time, as your project moves forward, you’ll be able tocome back to these events and change the order for the best execution in the project.The most common approach to activity sequencing is the simple precedence diagrammingmethod (PDM). This approach means that your activities have predecessors and successors. Forexample, you need to remove the wallpaper, prime the wall, and then paint the wall. The“remove the wallpaper” activity is predecessor to the “prime the wall” activity. The “prime thewall” activity is a successor and it’s a predecessor to the “paint the wall” activity. With PDMyou’ll plot out the order of the events in a workflow as in Figure 6-1. Notice in Figure 6-1 thatActivity B is a successor to Activity A and that Activity B actually has two successors—ActivityC and Activity D.On the Job Your workplace may also call the end result of the PDM a project network diagram. That’s fine; it’s a network of all the activities to be completed in the project.The relationship between activities is also determined as part of the PDM. There are fourrelationship types you can use between activities in a project network diagram: Finish-to-Start Activity A must finish so that Activity B can start. For example, you must finish writing the text for a brochure so that the graphic designer can design the brochure. This is the most common relationship type. Figure 6-1: PDM uses predecessors and successors to visualize the flow of the project work.
Start-to-Start Activity A must start so that Activity B can start. This is ideal for two activities that can be executed in unison in your project and basically start at nearly the same time. For example, you must start the creation of the web site so that the photographer can take the photos you’ll use on the web site. These two events are relevant to one another, but each can take place at the same time. Finish-to-Finish Activity A must finish so that Activity B can finish. This is ideal for activities that should be completed close together in the project timeline. For example, the participants are completing a software training class and the IT department is installing the new software on the participants’ computers. By the time the training is completed, so too is the installation of the software. Start-to-Finish Activity A must start so that Activity B can finish. This is the most unusual scheduling relationship. It’s used in just-in-time scheduling, inventory management, and even chemical engineering. For example, you have to start a chemical reaction in a certain order so that the end result of the chemical reaction will finish in the desired order. You won’t use this scheduling approach very often.As you and your project team plot the order of events in the PDM, you’ll also determine thedependency of the activities. Dependency determination just means that you’ll identify the orderin which the events must take place. There are three types of dependencies with the PDMapproach: Mandatory dependencies The project work must take place in a specific order, also known as hard logic. For example, you must first create the foundation before you can begin framing the home. Discretionary dependencies The project work can take place in several different sequences based on the project manager’s discretion. For example, you might normally paint the walls first and then install the carpet, but you could install the carpet first and then paint the walls if you needed to. Discretionary dependencies are also known as soft logic. External dependencies The project work can’t take place until an external event happens. For example, the building inspector must inspect the work, the vendor must deliver the materials, or the weather must change before the project work may continue. External dependencies are things that are needed in the project, but they’re basically outside of the project manager’s control.On top of the relationships between project activities and the dependencies in the project work,you must also consider leads and lags for the individual project activities. Lead time isconsidered negative time, as you’re bringing project activities closer to the start time and itallows activities to overlap. For example, you’re redecorating a huge ballroom in a hotel andyour crew is priming and then painting the ballroom. Because the ballroom is so huge, there’s noreason to wait until the entire room is primed before your painting crew can begin their work.You can assign lead time to the painting activity to allow the priming activity and the paintingactivity to overlap.Lag time, as you may have guessed, is waiting time and is positive time. Consider a constructionproject where the cement must completely dry before any framing can happen on the cement slab
foundation. Lag time would be “waiting time” for the cement to dry before the next activitycould actually start. Lag time causes the project duration to increase, as you’re adding time, butnot necessarily additional resources, to the project work.Finally, if your organization is completing the same type of projects over and over, there’s littlereason to build a project network diagram from scratch. More likely you’ll just base your currentproject on a similar project—much like you did for the project management plan, the WBS, andthe activity list. In this instance the template is called a schedule network template. Your networktemplate could be the entire project, a chunk of the project work, or you may use a subnetwork orfragment network. A subnetwork or fragment network is a portion of your project template thatrepresent common work in your project. For example, you may have repetitive tasks in yourproject; rather than repeating the work over and over in your network diagram, you’ll use asubnetwork to represent this repetitive work.Learning ObjectivesIn this lab you’ll explore the techniques of scheduling project activities. By the end of this labyou’ll be able to Draw a basic project network diagram Define the relationships among project activities Identify activity dependencies for a projectExplore Project SchedulingYou are the project manager of the HNH Project for your company. This project is to create ajazz fundraiser for a local charity that will happen 60 days from today. You and your projectteam have created the following activity list (presented in no particular order): Identify jazz artists Select a menu Select a caterer for the event Publicize the event Create flyers and brochures Create an online web site for the event Provide videos of jazz artists for the web site Meet with local media for publicity Create press releases for the event Create a ticketing software for the event through the web site Decorate the ballroom with a music theme Select a venue for the event Meet with attorneys for contractual obligations to performers Determine insurance needs for the venue Hire wait staff for the event Identify volunteers to help with the actual event Hire a photographer for the event
Host the actual event Make photos of the event accessible through the event web siteThis lab asked you several questions about the activity list and the sequencing of the projectactivities. Here are the most likely answers for this lab:1. What are the first three activities for this event?2. There are 19 activities in this activity list. Identify a possible sequence of activities:3. Considering these events, create a project network diagram to show the order in which you believe the activities should happen. Consider the multiple paths to project completion, the relationships between project activities, and hard logic and soft logic. Identify each task in the preceding list with an alphabetical letter and then create the network diagram accordingly. Lab Exercise 6.03: Estimating Activity ResourcesAnother process the project manager and project team will need to complete is creating anestimate for the type and amount of resources needed by the activities in the activity list.Resources include people, materials, equipment, and facilities that the project requires in order tocomplete the activities. You’ll need to know what types of resources are necessary, especiallypeople, to predict how long the project work will take to complete.PMP The process of estimating activity resources works with the estimate costs processCoach you’ll see in the next chapter. The resources your project needs must have a cost associated with them.The project manager will rely on the activity list and activity attributes to begin the process ofestimating activity resources. She’ll also use the resource calendars to determine when resourcesare available, as availability may affect which resource will be selected, when the project workwill take place, and negotiations internal to the organization to get needed resources onto theproject work. The project manager will also leverage any organizational process assets andfollow the rules and policies as defined in enterprise environmental factors.One approach for determining the activity resources is to rely on published estimating data.These are white papers, catalogs, or industry reports that help an organization to predict costs,duration of use, and expected outcomes of work based on project work. For example, a reportcould predict how long it would take to create 15,000 plastic bottles based on the type of
manufacturing equipment, type and thickness of plastic, and standard characteristics of the waterbottle. Published estimating data is ideal in construction and manufacturing.Another approach that’s useful is called bottom-up estimating. Bottom-up estimating breaksdown an activity into finer details to account for all of the likely materials, type of labor, andtotal quantity of labor that is needed to complete a single activity. Bottom-up estimatingexamines all aspects of the activity, including dependencies, attributes, experience, and othercharacteristics.Of course the project manager is going to also use expert judgment and alternative identificationto predict activity resources. Expert judgment can be based on past projects, experience with theproject work, consultants, the project team, or other experts within the organization. Alternativeidentification is also used as part of trade-offs in determining needed resources. Consider asenior engineer versus a junior engineer to complete a given activity; the senior engineer may beable to complete the work faster, but the junior engineer costs less.This process documents the activity resource requirements for each activity. Project managersoften create a resource breakdown structure, similar to the WBS concept, which visualizes theresources needed in the project. The resource breakdown structure could categorize resources bymaterials, contractors, employees, or any other categorization of needed project resources.Learning ObjectivesIn this lab you’ll explore estimating activity resources in a sample project scenario. By the end ofthis lab you’ll be able to Rely on expert judgment Use alternative identification for resource identification Research published estimating data Explain bottom-up estimating for estimating activity resourcesEstimate Activity Resources for a ProjectYou are the project manager for a construction company. Your company has assigned you to aproject that will create a theater for an existing condominium association. The theater in thecondo building will have state-of-the art projection, movie screen, seating for up to 50 people,and will be decorated in a Hollywood motif. Sharon, your project sponsor, needs you to identifysome of the needed resources for the construction of the theater.This lab asked you to answer questions regarding activity resources. Your answers may beslightly different than what is presented here:1. Sharon wants you to identify three different types of flooring that would be ideal for a home theater. Using alternative identification, what are three possible resources you could use for flooring in a home theater? You may search the Internet if needed.
2. Sharon has also asked that you identify the amount of paint you’ll need to paint the theater. The theater is 60 feet long, 40 feet wide, and 19 feet six inches high, and it has six-inch baseboards throughout the room. There is only one door that is seven feet high by four feet wide and has three inches of trim all around the door. You’ll need to apply two coats of paint on standard drywall, and the paint will cover 300 square feet per gallon. You can find calculators to help answer this information by performing an Internet search:3. What project management tool and technique are you using to answer question number two in this exercise?4. What resources can you readily identify that you’ll need in this project based on the limited amount of information you have so far?Lab Exercise 6.04: Estimating Activity DurationsOnce you’ve identified the activities and the types of resources you’ll need and the availability ofthose resources, you can create activity duration estimates. Early in the project you might createa rough order of magnitude time estimate, or a high-level schedule for the project work, but nowthat the activity list has been created, you can offer a more detailed estimate of the activityduration and, in turn, the duration of the project. You’ll also rely on the organizational processassets, such as historical information for creating duration estimates. Project managers also mustconsider enterprise environmental factors, such as rules for the amount of time a resource isallowed to work on a project versus regular operations.PMP Keep in mind for your PMP exam all of the application areas that all of theCoach different project managers specialize in. You don’t need to know how to estimate activity duration for construction, IT, healthcare, manufacturing, and other project types you can imagine. You will need, however, to recognize the tools and techniques and their characteristics for estimating project activity durations.Activities within a project are either effort-driven activities or fixed-effort activities. Effort-driven activities are tasks to which a project manager can add more effort to reduce the overallduration of the project work. Consider wiring a building with new network cable with twoelectricians versus six electricians. By adding the extra labor, the project work can, in theory,complete faster. The Law of Diminishing Returns restricts the project manager fromexponentially adding labor to the task to continually reduce the overall duration of the projectwork. At some point the added labor is just too expensive and the workers are going to get ineach other’s way and be counterproductive.
Fixed-effort activities are tasks that must be completed, and adding more labor to the task won’tshorten its duration. For example, you can’t add more labor to a printing press to make it gofaster. The printing press can only create so many units an hour, and more pressmen won’t speedup the operation. Consider fixed-effort activities like testing software, manufacturing, or training.One of the most common tools a project manager can use to predict activity durations isanalogous estimating. This approach, sometimes called top-down estimating, creates an analogybetween projects to predict activity duration. Analogous estimating requires historicalinformation, as you’re basing your current project duration estimate on a completed similarproject. While this approach is fast to use, it’s not always the most reliable duration estimatingtechnique.Another approach you can use is parametric estimating. Parametric estimating relies onparameters, such as one hour or labor per square foot of construction, to predict duration. It’sideal to use when a project has repetitive tasks to complete, such as installing fixtures, loadingsoftware on many computers, or painting identical rooms. Parametric estimates can be highlyreliable, especially if the supporting detail for the estimate is based on historical information orproven experience.Some project managers use a three-point estimate to consider a wider range of risk tolerance. Athree-point estimate requires that for each activity optimistic, most-likely, and pessimisticduration estimates be created. Once all three estimates are created, an average time estimate isfound. For example, an activity with an optimistic duration of 25 hours, a most-likely estimate of35 hours, and a pessimistic estimate of 75 hours would have a three-point estimate recorded of45 hours. A three-point estimate simply adds up the three estimates and divides by three for theaverage.PMP You’ll see analogous estimating, parametric estimating, and three-point estimatesCoach in the next chapter on project costs too. If you can imagine applying these three time estimating techniques to cost estimating, you’re on your way.With all of these estimate types, you can also create a time buffer for the project called amanagement reserve or time reserve. This buffer of time accounts for project uncertainty shouldany project activities take longer than the activity estimate predicts. Project managers can createa management reserve for the project schedule based on a percentage of the project duration orthrough mathematical analysis using quantitative approaches.The one danger of using a time buffer is Parkinson’s Law. Parkinson’s Law states that work willexpand to fill the amount of time allotted to it. In other words, if you predict your project willlast 18 months including a two-month buffer project time, your project will magically grow to 18months because you’ve given the project that time to use.Learning ObjectivesIn this lab you’ll explore activity duration estimating techniques. By the end of this lab you’ll beable to
Identify activity attributes Give an example of activity duration estimates Explain Parkinson’s Law and management reserveCreate Activity Duration EstimatesShari is the project manager of the HJK Project for her organization, and you’re serving as aproject management consultant on the project. The HJK Project is an update to the existing officeheadquarters for Shari’s company. The office headquarters are 15 years old and are starting tolook slightly dated.There are four floors in the office building, and each floor has a nearly identical layout, exceptfor the first floor, which has more common areas. All of the carpet in the building will bereplaced, 546 office doors will be replaced, and 2,000 light fixtures throughout the building willbe updated with new, energy-saving fixtures. Shari has some specific questions about some ofthe identified activities in the project.This lab presented a case study to update the company’s headquarters and then asked you severalhypothetical questions about the scenario and the duration of the project work. Here are the mostlikely answers to the questions presented:1. Shari wants the painting process to be done as soon as possible—hopefully over a four-day weekend—to avoid disrupting business operations. The painters report that this isn’t feasible, as one floor of the office building will take six days to paint with eight painters assigned to the floor. Their estimate is based on their past experience. Currently Shari has 32 painters assigned to the project activity, but she would like to increase the number of painters to 64 to reduce the painting activity to just three days. As a consultant, what do you find wrong with Shari’s reasoning to increase the effort to reduce the activity duration?2. You, Shari, and several members of the project team examine the existing doors of the offices. The project team members remove 10 of the existing office doors and replace them with new office doors. Given their experience replacing these 10 doors, the crew believes it will take approximately one hour of labor per door to replace the old office doors with the new material. How many total hours of labor will be needed for this activity?3. Shari would like to test the duration of the light fixture replacement activity using the same approach as you did with the office doors. The light fixtures, however, must be replaced by an electrician, and Shari’s company only has two electricians available to complete this task. One of the electricians, Bob, tests the replacement on 10 lights, and he estimates that it will take two hours per light fixture to remove, test, and replace the fixtures. How many hours of labor will this activity take?4. Bob reports, however, that he and John, the other electrician, can only work 20 hours each per week on the HJK Project, as they’ve other assignments to attend to. Given their availability, how many weeks will it take with these two resources to complete the light fixture replacement activity?
5. Some of the project team members want to pad their project activities duration in case something goes wrong with the project work. What should you recommend to Shari rather than padding the individual project activities?6. What law must Shari and the project team be aware of if they pad the entire project? What does this law mean for project activity duration estimating? Lab Exercise 6.05: Developing the Project ScheduleIn most projects there are activities that can be done in tandem with other project work, activitiesthat must be done in a certain order, and activities that can be completed independent of all otherproject work. The project management process of developing the project schedule is the analysisof the project activities, the order in which they can, should, or must happen, and the applicationof resources to the activities to determine the best completion for the project. Developing theproject schedule is an iterative activity in project planning that helps the project manager andproject team determine the order and date of completion for all of the project work.To develop the project schedule, you’ll rely on nine inputs: Activity list The activities that need to be scheduled Activity attributes The characteristics, resources, and information about the activities to be scheduled Project schedule network diagrams The visual flow of the project activities Activity resource requirements The resources you’ll need to complete the activities Resource calendars When the resources are actually available Activity duration estimates How long the activities will take to complete Scope statement The project deliverables and requirements the activities will create Enterprise environmental factors The rules, policies, and regulations that affect the scheduling of the project activities Organizational process assets Templates, historical information, and other guidance that help schedule the project activitiesOne of the primary approaches project managers use for developing the project schedule is thereliance on the critical path method. The critical path is the path in the project network diagramthat takes the longest to complete, and it shows the earliest the project can be completed and thelatest the project can be completed. The critical path method reveals float for project work; floatis the opportunity to delay project activities without affecting the project end date. The criticalpath has no float available, as any delay of the project activities on the critical path would causethe project to be late. There are three types of float:
Total float The amount of time an activity can be delayed without affecting the project’s end date Free float The amount of time an activity can be delayed with affecting successor activities’ early start date Project float The amount of time the entire project can be delayed without affecting the project end datePMP Consider a project that will require 40 days of consistent effort to complete butCoach you have 200 days to complete the project at your leisure. Project float, in this example, is simply 160 days. It’s usually seen on low-priority projects.Project management information systems can calculate the critical path, but you’ll need to knowhow to complete this tedious work for your PMP examination. There are two generally acceptedmethods to calculate project float and both work equally well. The following is the mostcommonly accepted approach for finding float. Figure 6-2 is a simple project network diagramwhere the nodes are the activities, the arrows show the direction of the project work, and thenumber above each node shows the duration of the activity.Figure 6-2: The critical path method reveals float and the early finish date.In Figure 6-2 note that Activity B is a predecessor to Activities D and E. Activity B must finishbefore either of these activities can begin. Activity G, in this example, must have Activities D, E,and F all completed before it can start. In this example there are three paths to projectcompletion: A, B, E, and G, which takes 19 days A, B, D, and G, which takes 16 days A, C, F, and G, which takes 20 daysThis reveals the critical path as ACFG, as it takes the longest of all the project paths. This shouldalways be your first step in the critical path method: find the duration of each path. Your nextstep is to complete the forward pass. The forward pass simply determines the early start of eachproject activity and the early finish for each project activity. You do this by starting with the firstday of the project, the early start, and then determining based on the duration of the project
activity what’s the earliest that activity can finish. For example, in Figure 6-3 Activity A canstart on Day 1 and finish on Day 3, as its duration is three days long. This means that ActivitiesB and C can’t start until Day 4, because Activity A must be completed before either B or C canstart.Figure 6-3: The forward pass shows the early start and early finish for each activity.The earliest day that an activity can start is called its early start (ES), and the earliest an activitycan finish is called its early finish (EF). The first activity always starts on Day 1. No otheractivity can start until all of its predecessors have completed. The simple formula you’ll use todetermine the ES and EF of each node is ES + activity duration – 1 = EF. Check out Figure 6-3to see the completed forward pass and the highlighted critical path. Notice on Activity G that theearliest it can start is Day 14; that’ll be important shortly. Also, notice that the earliest Activity Gcan possibly finish is Day 20—the same duration as the critical path. The early finish for the lastactivity should equal the duration of the critical path; if not, there’s a math mistake somewhere inthe forward pass. When there are two or more predecessor activities of a successor activity, thelargest of the early finish dates is considered for when the successor activity may begin. In otherwords, all predecessors must be completed before a successor may begin.PMP Duration is sometimes abbreviated as du. In the forward pass formula you canCoach write it as ES + du – 1 = EF. The reason you subtract one is to account for one complete day of work. For example, Activity A starts on Day 1 and takes three days to complete. You work all of Day 1, all of Day 2, and all of Day 3 to finish Activity A. Using the forward pass formula, you’d take 1 plus the duration of 3 minus 1 for the early finish on Day 3.Once the forward pass has been completed, you can complete the backward pass. The backwardpass reveals the latest an activity can finish and the latest an activity can start. It’s similar to theforward pass, except you’ll start at the last activity and use the formula Late Finish – Duration +1 = Late Start. The late finish date for the last activity is also the early finish for the last activity.Figure 6-4 is the completed backward pass.The final step, the easy step, is to reveal which activities have float and how much float isavailable. The difference between the early finish and the late finish for each activity reveals the
amount of float available for the activity. (Technically, the difference between the early start andthe late start will reveal the same value of float.) Figure 6-5 reveals the amount of float eachactivity can have. Notice that the critical path activities have the same late start and early startvalues and the same late finish and early finish values. These critical activities cannot be delayedat all, so there is no float available.Figure 6-4: The backward pass shows the late finish and the late start for each activity.In Figure 6-5 you can see the concept of total float. The project must finish by Day 20, or it islate. If the project manager were to use the one day of float on Activity B, the path ABEG wouldnow take 20 days to complete, and the path ABDG would now take 17 days to complete. Theamount of available float for Activity D would be reduced to three instead of four. This isbecause total float restricts the amount of float that can be used on a path so that it doesn’t affectthe late finish date for the project.While critical path methodology is the most common approach to scheduling development formost projects, there’s another approach that’s gaining momentum: the critical chain method. Thecritical chain method initially follows the same approach of schedule development by creatingthe network diagram and then identifying the critical path. What’s different, however, is that thecritical chain method also considers the availability of project resources to determine when theproject activities can actually occur. For example, in the critical path method there’s anassumption that Bob the electrician won’t be needed on two different activities at the same time,when in reality Bob could be needed in two places at once and that would skew the critical path.The critical chain method considers the availability of resources for all the activities in theproject network diagram to determine the true critical path. When resources can actually do thework ultimately affects when the project can be completed. The critical chain method doesn’t usethe term “critical path” to define the chain of activities with no float—it calls this the criticalchain. In addition, the critical chain method uses “feeding buffers” for chains of activities thatfeed into the critical chain instead of float. It’s basically the same concept, as the dependentactivities have a buffer of time to complete all their activities before the critical chain can moveonward.
Figure 6-5: The float is the difference of the late finish and the early finish.Both the critical path and the critical chain methods allow the project manager to use some what-if analysis for determining when the project can actually be completed. You can simulate addingor removing resources, change the sequence of activities, or try other experiments to predict thebest outcome for the project. What-if scenarios can examine any possible event, from powerfailures, work stoppage, risks, or other things that may hinder or help the project schedule.Another term you should be familiar with is resource leveling. Resource leveling limits theamount of time a resource can work in a given time period. For example, management may tellyou that your project team can only work 30 hours a week maximum on your project rather thanthe 40 you’ve planned. With this heuristic of 30 hours, your project is probably going to takelonger to complete because you’re limited to 30 hours per week instead of 40. Resource levelingis often shown in a resource histogram as in Figure 6-6, where any resource above the 30-hourheuristic is overallocated and the represented work needs to be reassigned to another resource, ifpossible, or carried over to the next time period.When time is of the most importance, project managers consider schedule duration compressiontechniques. The first approach is crashing. Crashing allows the project manager to add resourcesto the project to complete as soon as possible. This approach assumes that the project work iseffort-driven, such as painting, construction, or another activity whose duration can be reducedby adding additional labor. Activities that are of fixed duration, such as testing softwareapplications, can’t be reduced by adding labor.PMP Crashing can happen by adding faster resources, such as equipment andCoach technology—not just people.
Figure 6-6: Resource leveling flattens the labor for a given time period.The Law of Diminishing Returns controls the effectiveness of crashing for most projects. Youcan’t exponentially add labor to the project work and exponentially reduce the amount of time tocomplete the project work. In other words, you can’t crash your project with so much work thatthe project will eventually take just a few minutes to complete. The Law of Diminishing Returnsalso dictates the yield, the value, of the project in relation to the cost of the labor you’re addingto the project work. Even though you can crash the project with additional labor, the time savedmay not be worth the cost of the labor in proportion to the return on the investment. As a generalrule, crashing trades time for cost.Another approach for schedule compression is called fast tracking. Fast tracking allows two ormore phases (or activities) of a project to overlap rather than to be created in sequence. Inmassive construction projects, such as creating a football arena, you can see fast tracking. Aportion of the stadium may appear to be far ahead in its construction while other portions stillhave dirt exposed or barely any progress at all. This is fast tracking, as the phases of the projectwork overlap in their sequence. Fast tracking does speed up the project execution, but it canintroduce risks in the project work. Should there be errors in the first phase, it can drasticallyaffect the cost and time invested in the overlapping phase.Learning ObjectivesIn this lab you’ll review and experiment with the techniques for developing a project schedule.By the end of this lab you’ll be able to Find the critical path in network diagram Expose the float for certain project activities Complete a what-if analysis of the project diagram Evaluate crashing and fast tracking optionsDevelop a Project ScheduleYou are the project manager of the NHJ Project for your organization. You have created theproject network diagram as seen in the following figure. You are now ready to complete
schedule development on this network diagram to determine when the project may actually becompleted, to expose float opportunities, and to determine the critical path. Above each node inFigure 6-7 is the activity duration.Figure 6-7: The project network diagram shows the order of activities and their durations.This lab tested your comprehension of finding project float, identifying the critical path, andevaluating opportunities to delay project work. Here are the answers to this lab:1. In this network diagram there are five paths to project completion. List all of the possible paths to the project completion and the duration of each path.2. In Figure 6-7 complete the forward pass of the schedule analysis. Recall that you can start on Day 1 for Activity A and use the formula ES + du – 1 = EF, where ES is the early start, du is the duration, and EF is the early finish.3. What is the early start for Activity J? What must be true in the project before Activity J can start?4. Now you can complete the backward pass in Figure 6-7. Remember, you start with the last activity’s early finish as the late finish for the project. You can use the formal LF – du + 1 = LS, where LF is the late finish, du is the duration, and LS is the late start.5. What is the latest that Activity F can finish? Why is this important in the project?6. Now in Figure 6-7 find the float for each activity by finding the difference of the Early Finish and the Late Finish. Write the float value under each node and circle it. Remember, there is no float on the critical path.7. How much float can you use on Activity E?8. If you use eight days of float on Activity B, how much float can you use on Activity H?9. In this project if you wanted to crash the project, what two things would you be adding to your project?10. Management has informed you that your project cannot use a resource for more than 25 hours per week on your project work. What is the heuristic called?11. What will this heuristic likely do to your project duration, and what could you do to combat this restriction?
Lab Exercise 6.06: Controlling the Project ScheduleOnce the project schedule has been created, the project manager shifts into a parallel process:monitoring and controlling the project schedule. This project management process is concernedwith controlling the project schedule by preventing changes to the project schedule baseline. Inother words, once the project has been created and approved, the project manager wants to do herbest to avoid changes to the schedule.Controlling the project schedule means constantly monitoring the project schedule for adherenceto the project plan. The project manager’s first goal is to work to prevent changes from enteringthe project schedule, but this is often unavoidable. When changes enter the project, eitherthrough approved change requests or by errors and omissions, the project manager must reactquickly to the changes and to the effect of the changes on the project schedule. The projectmanager will rely on four inputs for this project management process: Project management plan (specifically, the schedule management plan and schedule baseline) Current project schedule Information about the project work and why the change in the schedule has happened Organizational process assets, such as historical information, forms, and templatesArmed with these resources, the project manager can evaluate the project schedule performanceand react accordingly. This means, of course, that there’s honest reporting on work performance,time spent investigating the actual work the project team is completing, and evidence ofrequirements and deliverables being created. Milestones, a requirements traceability matrix, andquality control can all contribute to the evidence that the project is moving toward itscompletion.When there’s a discrepancy between what was planned and what’s being experienced in theproject, there’s evidence of a variance. This schedule variance must be responded to throughcorrective actions. You’ll need to take steps to evaluate what the variance is, understand why itexists, and then plan for the best response to the variance. One approach, which you’ll learnabout in great detail in Chapter 7, is earned value management. Earned value management is asuite of formulas that attach financial values to work planned and work performed. Theseformulas can create a schedule performance index and identify schedule variances.When you discover variances in your project and you need to make corrective actions, your goalis to bring project performance back into alignment with the project plan. This can be achievedthrough corrective actions, such as crashing the project or fast-tracking the project. Recall thatcrashing the project adds people to the effort-driven activities and fast-tracking the project allows
entire phases to overlap with other phases. It’s also possible that you may need to adjust yourlead and lag times between project activities to recoup lost time in the project schedule.When you identify a schedule variance and you take corrective actions, you might also takepreventive actions so that the mistake doesn’t enter the project again. That’s ideal—to learn fromthe error and to prevent it from happening again. Whenever a project manager takes corrective orpreventive actions, chances are she’ll also need to update the lessons learned documentation. Theproject manager should identify what the variance was, why it occurred, the action the projectmanager took, and any other supporting details to the problem and its fix. This will not only helpwhen it’s time to write the final project report, but also it helps future project managers learnfrom what’s happened in this project.It’s possible that through controlling the project schedule there’s a need for a project changerequest. Consider a project that has a fixed deadline but because of some errors in the project thedeadline just isn’t a reality anymore. A change request could be made to trim items from theproject scope in order to still meet the project’s deadline, albeit with fewer deliverables thanoriginally planned. A change request doesn’t have to be just about the project scope; you couldcreate a change request to add more time to the project in order to deliver all scope items.All change requests must pass through the appropriate change control system and integratedchange control. When a schedule change request is approved, the project manager must updatethe project management plan to reflect the approved change. The change request can cause theschedule baseline and the schedule management plan to be updated. Also consider the costmanagement plan and needed updates there: if the project manager needs additional time, theproject may incur additional costs for continued resources, facilities, and labor. If the changerequest is to crash the project schedule, additional costs are almost always incurred by theproject.Learning ObjectivesIn this lab you’ll evaluate a case study and determine the best response to the situationspresented. By the end of this lab you’ll be able to Evaluate project schedule performance Create corrective actions for the situations in the project Determine preventive actions for the project Update the project management documentsControl the Project ScheduleMary is the project manager of the JHG Project for her organization. This project is to replace allprinters in her organization with 300 network-enabled printers. The old printers will be removed,the newer models will be installed on the network, and the software will be added to the users’workstations and configured for usage. The types of printers to be installed are
Series 899 printers These are 50 fast, multidocument printers that can act as printers and photocopier machines. These printers are to be installed first in the organization. Series C99 printers These are 50 color-laser printers that are shared on the network for all users to print to. These printers are to be installed in batches of 10 in an identified order of precedence for the organization’s lines of business. Series BW74 printers The remaining 200 printers are network-enabled, black-and-white printers that all users may print to.The project team has been installing the Series 899 printers, but they’re off to a late start becausethe vendor didn’t deliver the printers as scheduled. The first printer was installed and functionalnearly 10 days late on the project, causing all other project tasks to be delayed. The project teamnow has four of the 10 printers installed, and they’re reporting that the installation process istaking one day longer for each printer than what was planned for.This lab presented a case study for a project to install printers in an organization. Here are themost likely answers to the questions presented:1. Given what you’ve read so far about Project JHG, what mistakes has Mary made with her scheduling of the printer installations?2. If you were a consultant on this project, what type of preventive action would you recommend to Mary?3. What corrective actions could Mary take right now on this project to move the project along? The project team is now finished with the installation of the Series 899 printers, and they are moving on to the next project activity: the installation of the color printers. Because the installation of the Series 899 printers is late, the activity to install the color printers is now also late. The project stakeholders are complaining about access and training time already reserved. Managers are becoming frustrated because they’ve scheduled their staff to attend the training session, which now needs to be rescheduled.4. If you were a consultant on this project, what type of recommendation would you make for Mary and for the training on the color printers?5. What could Mary do to bring this project back on track, assuming all of the remaining printers are available for installation?6. What preventive actions would you have taken in this project if you were the project consultant?