Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Primary Uses of a Schedule Management Plan

Have you ever been on your way to an important business meeting, walked over to your car and realized your tire was flat? What now?

A flat tire can really throw a monkey wrench into your work schedule and have long-lasting effects, especially if your meeting was with a client who doesn't tolerate lateness or excuses of any kind. You could lose a business deal.

Changes to a project schedule can also have far-reaching effects. Therefore, proper management is critical. One of the ways to ensure that you are properly managing your project schedule is to use a schedule management plan.

The schedule management plan should be used as a guide for your entire project. By definition, it outlines how schedule changes will be managed.

There are a number of reasons why a company would want to use a schedule management plan, for example:
  • to summarize how schedule changes will be managed
  • to direct the management team on change processes
  • to ensure that Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) responsibility assignments are controlled
  • to make schedule changes auditable
Take a look at this example. The project management team for Electro Power Designs (EPD) is meeting to discuss the contents of a recently developed schedule management plan.
Management can track the project's progress by comparing data on scope, cost, risk, and quality to the schedule management plan. For example, they can use the plan to track if EPD can produce the required amount by the imposed deadline.

To determine the impact on the project, variances must be reported and understood. Allowable variance ranges are defined, stating when corrective action is required. For example, if a project is two weeks behind schedule, corrective action is required.

To prevent further slippage, significant trends or variances may necessitate changes to the project approach. For example, EPD's product design may require new components before it is ready for the client.

Your project team must remember that the schedule management plan is a valuable output that should be used as a guide for managing your project's schedule. However, you must also keep in mind that in order to accurately reflect the entire project, the schedule management plan needs to be incorporated with the overall project plan.

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