Effective software project planning and scheduling

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Quite often, we see MS Project schedules getting written but quickly consigned to cold storage with project running in a loosely monitored fashion. Why does this happen? This presentation answers this question by highlighting problems with ineffective schedules and provides guidelines to write effective schedules.

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<ul><li> 1. Creating effective project schedulesAkshaya Centre of Excellencehttp://www.acoe.in</li></ul> <p> 2. Overview Not every project schedule document is effective irrespective of whether it is a tight or slack schedule. Ineffective schedules lie in cold storage and get updated once in a while; project drives the schedule so to say. Effective schedules are live documents that drive the project and are actively used to monitor and control the project. What is the difference between the two? This presentation is about understanding the difference and creating effective schedules. Organization of the presentation ACEProject schedules industry scenarios Challenges in creating effective project schedules Characteristics of effective schedules Guidelines to create effective project scheduleCreating Effective schedules2 3. Familiar with these scenarios? 1.2. 3.Project schedule gets created in the initial stages of the project but gets into cold storage gradually; project execution happens independent of the schedule. Project schedule is created in the initial stages of the project; but as time goes by, rather than project getting driven by the schedule, the schedule gets modified based on independent execution of the project (project drives the schedule) Project schedule is created in the initial stages of the project and is used to drive and track the project continuously. Project schedule is maintained as a live document and is changed only based on re planning, but schedule drives the project rather than viceversa.Why do we get into scenario 1 and 2 instead of being in 3? Effective schedules need a closer look atACECreating Effective schedules 4. Usable and unusable schedules Most of the times, the reason for being in scenario 1 and 2 instead of 3 is that the schedule itself is unusable (ineffective). What is an Unusable schedule? Is it necessarily a tight schedule?An unusable schedule is one that is drawn without keeping the vision of end-toend project execution as a basis. A very lax schedule can also be unusable. On the other hand a very tight schedule can be a usable(Effective) schedule if it is written properly. A usable schedule is a necessity for managing projects well, and is a critical necessity for fixed price projectsACECreating Effective schedules 5. Unusable schedules closer look What are unusable schedules? Some insights: Task break down does not correspond to the actual tasks that will be performed in the project; Task breakdown not detailed enough Overall effort in the schedule ( Sigma of resources multiplied by their duration in the project) does not match estimated effort.Resources not optimally loaded Task sequence does not reflect Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) model etc. Why are they unusable? ACEThe tasks needed to be performed to produce deliverables and their sequence are not reflected properly in the schedule. Hence, project team takes off executing tasks necessary to produce intermediate deliverables.Creating Effective schedules 6. Challenges in creating usable schedules Why unusable schedules get created in the first place? Creating a schedule is similar to writing code; there is a huge difference between good code written by a college student and a professional code written by a seasoned programmer. Experience counts. Learning does not happen by default ACEJust by working in a professional environment, a novice programmer turns into a professional programmer. The same cannot be said of schedules as not everybody gets a chance to go through the rigor of creating effective schedules If one gets driven rigorously by customer or senior manager with project schedules one is more likely to become professional in creating schedules. Otherwise, they tend to remain novice as far as project schedules are concerned regardless of how talented they are or how experienced they are.Not enough time is spent on creating the schedule.Creating Effective schedules6 7. Why worry about usability of schedule? If projects are anyway being executed to the satisfaction of customers without effective / usable schedules, then why worry about it? Potential for more effort/cost saving and mitigating the risk of schedule over runs Better control over the project Project executed with effective schedules v/s those without effective schedules ACETeam members have clarity on what they are supposed to accomplish Transparency in the team Big picture visibility to the team motivates them Higher level of accountability Easier trackingProject manager can respond to changes more objectivelyCreating Effective schedules 8. Usable schedulesCharacteristics of usable schedules a schedule is a good one if it answers yes to questions below: ACEDoes the overall effort in the schedule match the effort estimated earlier? Does the task breakdowns of schedule and estimation have a match? Duration of sub tasks correspond to the effort estimated in the estimation?Does the task sequence match the life cycle model chosen? Are resources optimally loaded? Has parallelism of tasks been identified and made use of optimally?Have all activities from the life cycle covered? Granularity of tasks sufficient to enable team members to draw up individual schedules?Creating Effective schedules 9. Usable schedulesCharacteristics of usable schedules Does the schedule enable allocation of work to team members on a weekly basis with clear scope, activity and deliverable? Are mile stones properly identified? Can integration be done properly using the schedule?Can you track the project easily with percentage completion? Can a status report be generated easily using the schedule? Can you respond to following changes properly with the schedule? For instance, ACEProject gets additional requirement and additional resource Project gets additional requirement, no additional resource, but you are allowed to de scope some functionality.Creating Effective schedules 10. How to create usable schedules?ACECreating Effective schedules 11. Creating usable schedules Typically, project managers who have been subject to pressure from customers to create and use project schedules tend to realize the benefit and create usable schedules. This experience is a key to creating usable schedules.If one does not have this experience, simulate it through training Alternative ways of learning ACEKnowledge of characteristics of usable schedule helps Using a step-by-step procedure and creating sample schedules helpsCreating Effective schedules 12. How to create usable schedules?Tips to create usable schedules Follow a step-by-step iterative procedure ACEBreak down the project into mile stones with deliverables identified at each mile stone Identify sub tasks for each mile stone Define a team structure and a ramp up and ramp down plan The Task breakdown and mile stones should correspond to the life cycle model chosenCreating Effective schedules 13. How to create usable schedules? Assign effort for each sub task (corresponding to the estimate)o Cross verify if the effort for each life cycle phase in the schedule correspond to industry norms.Assign resourceso Resource assignment should be based on the actual team structure and ramp-up ramp-down plan Identify dependencies both task dependency and resource dependency Level resources (Optimize resource loading)o Iterate between step 6 to step 8 ACEYou can also use the rolling window approachCreating Effective schedules 14. Advantages of a usable schedule Creates a common view of the project to the projectmanager, theteam, the customer and any other stake holder.Enhances team work as everybody knows what other persons are working on. Facilitates constructive communication. Facilitates proactive action to bring project under control as dependencies are known explicitly and slippages can be detected with early signals. Integration can be scheduled easily Changes to the project can be handled effectively. Facilitates integration with other automation tools that can reduce project tracking overheads. Minimises schedule overruns ACECreating Effective schedules 15. Further learning Please visit the web page for a course that teaches the advanced aspects of project scheduling For sample schedules to work on, please email nagaraja.gundappa@acoe.in For other interesting artifacts and downloads, please visit the resource center at PM Forum, ACE website For other interesting articles and discussions, please visit the ACE blog at 10minsatace.com 16. About ACE We are a consulting and training firm providing software delivery excellence services Our mission is to Transform Results and not just rest at applying methodologies. Our logo conveys that insights possessed by our team produces results to the business units (In the logo, tree represents business units and fruits represent results for the business unit) Unique characteristic of our organization is that all the members of the team are hands-on people who have been highly successful in their delivery roles and are now into consulting and training to pass on their insights. This is what enables us to be confident of transforming results 17. ACE service portfolio categories Offshore project health monitoring Estimation accuracy improvement Requirement clarity and completeness improvement Vendor capability assessment for outsourcing Competency assessment for project managersAssessment servicesPackaged training FSPS for future and new project managers ACEPMP for experienced PMsConsulting servicesCustomized training Strategic training programs targeted to improve specific metrics 18. ACE service portfolio Target audience view Offshore project health monitoring Vendor capability assessment for outsourcingIS managers who outsourceFuture project managers FSPS (Framework of Software Project Success) 2 day course for future and new project managersBusiness unit heads of IT service firms Project manager competency assessment Strategic programs targeted to improve specific metricsExperienced project managers ACEPMP a 9 separatedays package of 8 courses for experienced PMs 19. Nagaraja gundappa LinkedIn profile: in.linkedin.com/in/nagarajagundappa Chief consultant, ACE, 20+ years of software industry experience Before ACE Profiles of ACE teamGeneral Manager in Wipro Technologies (1996 2008) Project manager in Tata Unisys (Now Tata Infotech) (1993 1995) Research Fellow in NAL (1990 1993)Awards and Honors Charimans award for a project management competency initiative (2007) Group presidents award - 1997 Best application award OMG object world west 97 20. Profiles Nagaraja Gundappa Project management expertise Certified Scrum Master Have delivered significant improvement in delivery results through a project management competency build up program during 2005 - 2008 Won the Chairmans award for this initiative Results delivered - more than 10% reduction in cost overruns and 10 times reduction in field error rate.Have taught software project management courses (Applied PMBoK courses) for over 1200 project managers Have delivered large, complex, global projects successfully to customers such as General Motors, Deloitte and Touche, Dun &amp; Bradstreet Have delivered many presentations at industry forums on estimation, project scheduling and tracking, and project management training 21. Thank you </p>

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