Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Updating the Project Schedule

To accurately reflect your project's progress, project schedules must be continuously updated. This process enables stakeholders to evaluate impacts to the project as they occur. This provides better control over the project and reduces the impact of required changes.

A schedule update is any modification to the schedule information used to manage the project. Schedule updates are required when variances from plan are higher or lower than the previously approved limit. Schedule updates may or may not require adjustments to other aspects of the overall project management plan.

There is a special category of schedule updates called revisions. Revisions are changes to the scheduled start and finish dates in the approved project schedule. Typically, start and finish dates are only revised in response to scope changes. In cases where schedule slippage is severe enough to warrant revision, rebaselining may be required to provide realistic data for performance measurement.

Palmcom Computers is developing a new palm-sized computer. The company has planned for the product to be introduced at the Fall Buyer's Show. It has decided to strive for this date, to get the heads-up on the competition. Reaching this goal allows for very little flexibility. At the end of the second phase, the management team notices that the schedule is slipping, resulting in a variance much larger than the acceptable range. If this trend continues, the company will not have the originally planned two weeks for quality testing.

In this example, the company has two choices—alter the project scope, or change the project schedule. After careful examination, the team has decided to maintain the current completion date and adjust the allotted testing time to one week to give the team an extra week for production.

Ongoing monitoring and updating are essential components of project schedule control. Adjustments to the project start or finish date (revisions) require special attention. In the event a revision is necessary, the schedules need to be accurately revised for the key stakeholders to continue to have a valid means of measuring the project's overall progress.

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