project – you must add enough contingency to give yourself confidence
you can deliver the project.
Having contingency does not mean that you give the people doing those
tasks an extra 22 days and £35,200 to spend, but that as the project
manager, you hold this as a buffer you can use only when you need to.
We will explore this more in Chapter 4. What this means though is that
you will ask:
For a project budget of £380,800, which typically I would round up
to budget of £385k.
For time until 29 September to complete the project.
Does adding an additional 22 days seem a lot? Consider the situation
whereby you will make all staff leave their existing office when the
project is complete, and you will advise your existing landlord and
terminate your rental from that date. If you tell everyone you will
complete on 1 September and are then not ready, you risk a big problem
for your business as where then will you staff work from? Better have
some contingency and avoid this risk. You may even decide that, given
the business risk, 22 days is not enough contingency. Now is the time to
be sensibly cautious, not heroically over-optimistic.
Step 3.8 Review and amend can you do it,
should you do it, is there a better way?
You have a plan, and you have an understanding of the budget you
require to deliver this plan. Before you move on to starting to deliver the
project, there are three related questions to ask yourself:
1. Can you do it? The project you have planned will take just over 3
months (31 May to 1 September), cost you £345k, and requires the
time of Mary, Dave, Adam and a contractor. Do you actually have
this time and money and access to these people?
2. Should you do it? Going back to your original reason for your
project, will the plan you have developed meet it? For example, if
you are moving office to reduce your office rental by £500k per
annum, then you will probably think spending £345k to achieve
PROM_C03.QXD 6/3/06 2:43 pm Page 68
this is a good investment. However, if your saving is only £50k per
annum then £345k is probably too much to spend to save this
amount, and the project is not worth doing. The planning was still
a worthwhile activity as it proved this.
3. Can you do it any better way? Your plan is just one way of doing
the work: is there any way you can juggle the plan to do it faster,
cheaper or better? You do not need to look at everything, but by
exploring the key items in cost and the things that make the time-
line as long as it is, you may find things you can cut. Look at how
you can juggle between the five dimensions of the project: time,
cost, scope, quality and risk.
In the project example, the major costs are the deliverable variable costs
– buying the furniture and PCs for your staff. If you need to reduce
costs, can you buy cheaper PCs or cheaper furniture? £1,000 may be
considered a lot for an office PC, especially if you are buying 100. Find
out if you can get them cheaper, as reducing the cost to £500 will save
you £50k, which is about 15 per cent of the budget.
You should also review the time your plan shows the project taking. To
do this there is one useful piece of project management jargon to under-
stand, that is the critical path of a project. The critical path is the series
of tasks that create the timescale of the project. Other tasks that are not
on the critical path can move around without changing the overall
length of the project, unless they are changed so much as to become the
critical path. In the office re-fit project, the critical path is shown by the
tasks in italic (see Table 3.8).
PROM_C03.QXD 6/3/06 2:43 pm Page 69

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