If you ask people what makes a project successful, “a realistic schedule” usually tops the list. But ask them to be more specific, and several characteristics of a realistic schedule emerge. A realistic schedule:
- Includes a detailed knowledge of the work to be done.
- Has task sequences in the correct order.
- Accounts for external constraints beyond the control of the team.
- Can be accomplished on time, given the availability of skilled people and enough equipment.
Finally, a realistic schedule takes into consideration all the objectives of the project. For example, a schedule may be just right for the project team, but if it misses the customer’s completion date by a mile, then it’s clear that the whole project will need reassessment. Building a project plan that includes all the necessary parts and achieves a realistic balance among cost, scheduling, and quality requires a careful, step-by-step process.
Chapter 6 dealt with the first step in planning the project: the work breakdown structure. This chapter explains planning steps two through five. Each planning step relies on the one preceding it, and each adds a new element to the plan. You can use the diagram in Figure 6.1 (see page 134) as a guide in this chapter.
Here is a quick recap of the steps involved in planning a project. The first two actions prepare the groundwork for planning and so can be considered preplanning activities. The remaining five steps develop ...