Managing projects effectively means knowing how to write functional schedules. Being able to complete jobs on time and within a predetermined budget can be difficult, which is why it pays to know how to discover any performance issues that may be present.
Effective project management is the key ingredient to success for all businesses. If you don’t know how to organize tasks and deadlines or how to stay within an allocated budget, the results can be disastrous. Failing to meet time requirements and spending excess money that cannot be wasted are problems many companies face, and this is primarily due to poor management skills. In particular, failing to notice and subsequently correct scheduling data performance problems can quickly put you behind and off-track.
In this sense, it might be helpful to think of the film industry. Every big budget movie has a substantial number of people on set. There is also only so much money available, and it has to accommodate all the needs of the set. From photography to video and sound editing to casting and post production, it doesn’t take much to realize just how complex this industry is. Producers often find themselves stretching their budgets to the max due to not fully taking into account the demands of the project. This is exactly what thousands of business executives face every day, and oftentimes the root of the problem lies in inferior scheduling practices.
Why a Quality Project Schedule Matters
A good schedule copy is one that will allow you to thoroughly track and analyze the project step-by-step. You won’t be left in the dark with respect to the where the budget lies (i.e. if you are under or over), which is perhaps the most important reason for taking the time to write an error-free schedule from the beginning. Given that perfection is something that is always sought after, there are many tools you can implement to assess the performance of the schedule you’re working with. By performing a real-time analysis, you will be able to see which areas need addressing.
Ways to Track Schedule Performance
There are a number of tools that project managers use to assess schedule performance. Earned Value Management is one which has been used time and again to track project budgets. Essentially, it includes implementation of Planned Value and Earned Value factors. The SPI metric (schedule performance index) is a formula which calculates and measures the project’s work accomplishment efficiency. It basically allows users to see if the project is behind or ahead of the initial deadline.
With respect to expenses, the CPI metric (cost performance index) is the formula that assesses where the project stands regarding the allocated budget. It is crucial for determining the efficiency of expenses, because after all, these are what all project managers want to keep to a minimum. These formulas are not the only ways to track schedule performance, however. You should also keep an eye out for delinquent tasks, or those which failed to start or be completed.
The key to schedule performance success is making sure everything is moving along as it should. This means speaking with staff members who are responsible for specific project duties and figuring out where the problems are. By running SPI and CPI metrics, you can get a quick overview of the project’s status.
Jon is a freelance contributor for a project management solutions company who specializes in a viewer for MicrosoftProject. His goal is to provide helpful information to those interested in project management by providing news, tool reviews, and discussing various methodologies.