5 Ways You May Unintentionally Create Schedule Risks

    2=Planning, 4=Control

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Do you feel uncertain about your project schedule? Does something seem out of order but you just can't put your finger on it? In this article, let's look at five causes of schedule risks and ways to avoid or reduce these risks.

Many times, it starts with pressure from a sponsor to deliver the project early. For sure, project managers have a responsibility to work with their sponsors to understand the requirements and to complete the projects within the sponsor-imposed deadlines. Rather than wasting our time complaining about the deadlines, how can we work with our sponsors and team members to find solutions to schedule issues?

As we develop our schedules, let's be aware of some common causes of risk. This puts us in a better position to manage the risks and deliver our projects on schedule.

5 Causes of Schedule Risks

1. Crashing the Schedule

It's always been funny to me that the Project Management Body of Knowledge uses the word "crashing" as a schedule compression technique. The term makes me think of an uninvited guest crashing a party, but with schedule management, the individuals are actually invited. Project managers use crashing to shorten the schedule for the least incremental cost by adding resources, typically to the critical path. It can be great. Just be aware that crashing may increase your risk. Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth.

2. Fast-Tracking

Fast-tracking allows you to shorten the schedule by performing activities in parallel for at least a portion of their duration. For example, we might start work on a software design while the team is eliciting the requirements. Consequently, this technique may increase your risk and requires good communication and coordination; otherwise, it may be anything but fast.

3. Assigning the Wrong Resources

You ask a manager for a resource for your project. In return, you get the person who is least busy, not the skilled resource you need. What should we do? Describe the specific skills needed and use your influencing skills to persuade the manager. What's a project manager to do when resources are preassigned?

4. Making Sequence Mistakes

John, an inexperienced project manager, failed to work with his team to sequence the project activities properly, resulting in issues which were discovered after the schedule was approved. Consequently, John has learned to engage his team members when identifying and sequencing future project activities.

5. Failure to Baseline Your Schedule

The project manager and team did a great job in breaking down the project, identifying activities, and creating the project schedule. However, the project manager failed to baseline the schedule. What happened later? Yes, the team members identified additional project activities that required changes to the schedule. So, the project manager updated the project schedule. Since the project manager had failed to baseline the schedule, there was no way to compare updated versions to the original version. And people had different versions of the schedule with no version control numbers.

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