You have worked with the team and the sponsor to create the project WBS and finalize the scope. You’ve turned the WBS into a schedule and you’ve validated the estimates of duration. You look at the delivery date with confidence…your jaw drops. The project is going to be ready 6 months after the date you expected it.
What do you do?
A lot will depend on your team. Are they the type of people to be very conservative with their estimates? Are people in your organization used to beating deadlines?
If answering these questions doesn’t do what you need try these three techniques.
1 – look at your logic. Often there’s room to overlap tasks that depend on each other. For instance, if you have to produce a marketing communication for a grand opening. You might have the following set up.
- Create draft plan for grand opening = 3 days
- Order supplies = 2 days
- invite attendees = 3 days
This gives you a total of 8 days if you do them end to end. But, if you can invite the attendees at the same time you order supplies, you’ve cut the timeline be 2 days. The caution here is to avoid overlapping tasks that end up overloading your team.
2 – check the relationship between end and start dates. Project scheduling software will assume you finish the task at the end of the day and don’t start another task until the next working day. If you have a lot of one day tasks, you can find weeks in the schedule by doing this
3 – walk through your dependencies. Look at the logic and at the effect on the start dates for subsequent tasks. I often find a bit of faulty logic that pushes my timeline way out of whack.
At the end of this process, decide how tight you want to control the schedule. If you get it down too tight, you’ll spend too much time managing minutes. If you leave it too loose, you’ll find yourself scrambling for deadlines. Some projects, like construction projects, need to be scheduled to the day because of the logistics of supplies, but if you don’t need to do that, then don’t.
Hope this gives you some help.