Watch this video of a common way to screw up a project plan. Is it familiar?
Pretend Project Due Dates
The sponsor plucks a project due date out of the sky. Then the tells the stakeholders they’re accountable for meeting that date. No one believes this pretend due date is realistic. They back into the due dates for their deliverables but they aren’t committed to them. Watch the managers faces in this video and see how much commitment they have to the dates. These people know they are going to fail before they even start work. They’re all trying to figure out how they will throw something together by the due date. They know they’ll then spend months fixing it.
Realistic Project Due Dates
The way a project manager and sponsor should set the project due date is by calculating the amount of work that each task requires. An effective technique is to let the team members take part in estimating the number of hours worth of work their task will take. Then you convert the number of work hours into the task’s duration. The duration is also based on each team member’s availability to work on their project task. Main Project Planning Page
When you use that technique to develop your task duration estimates, you gain a significant number benefits. First, the team members have a reasonable amount of commitment to the due date because they participated in setting it. Second, you and sponsor can accurately track progress. You can measure the number of hours worked versus the estimated hours. That gives you an exact idea of the percentage of work completed and the percentage of work remaining. With that information, you can calculate when the work will be done. The third benefit is that the team members are not held accountable for finishing their task by a certain date. They are accountable for finishing within a certain number of hours worth of work.
You can learn the best practices for planning projects with realistic due dates in our project management basics courses. Take a look at the basics course in your specialty.
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