We are constantly told that time is money and unfortunately, lots of it gets lost in disorganization and disruption. On top of that, we also deal with a constant barrage of technology, people, and tasks that can contribute to that disorganization. So, as you can imagine, the most important part of any project is time management. In order to conduct and complete a project successfully, are you doing everything you can to ensure timeliness and efficiency?
If time management is the most important part of any project, then planning and scheduling are the most important processes in managing a project. There are six processes associated with project time management:
* Activity definition
* Activity sequencing
* Activity resource estimating
* Activity duration estimating
* Schedule development
* Schedule control
Notice a pattern there? It seems the words "activity" and "schedule" come up quite often, and for good reason. The most basic part of any project is an activity that can be further broken down into tasks; and of course, a schedule is the most basic thing you need to manage time at all. Scheduling activities in a responsible and educated way is the key to successful project time management.
Identifying activities and scheduling them is a great first step to effective project time management, but it's not that simple. Anyone can take a guess at how long an activity will take, what you have to do is come up with the best estimate, as well as make allowances for the possibility of it being a little off.
So to ensure that your project isn't derailed by an activity taking longer than planned, it's best to schedule some slack or float. That simply means you have made room in your schedule for the risk of unexpected delays and the project won't go off track when these delays occur. The time spent on a project and its costs are directly proportional. Your schedule may very well determine the budget, and a mistake in scheduling could cause you to break your budget.
Getting the schedule right before you start is important! As long as you get the best advice you can about how long activities should take and schedule slack to allow for miscalculation, your schedule should stand the rigors of the project cycle.
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