Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Schedule: Why bother?

Most schedules are outdated before you finished typing them.
  • "Remember that 5-day task? I finished it already; took me 45 minutes."
  • "About that 1-day task... it's going to take at least 2 weeks, because...."
So why bother making a schedule?

1. It sets Expectations:
  • Engineers now know what delivery date management would like. Some - if not all - people work better when they have a target, and they know they are being watched.
  • Management has an idea how long it will really take.

2. It creates a Task list:
  • By asking all those involved how long their piece will take, they will [hopefully] come up with most of the missing pieces; items you probably never knew needed to be done.
  • It also enables the change control process, since items not on the schedule are out of scope.

3. It creates a Baseline:
  • This is important if you want to learn for future projects. This way you can measure which team members are better than others at guessing how long something will take to implement.
  • This way you can have periodic meetings to see if you are behind or ahead of the schedule. While you probably can't do much about it, it will give you the information you need for status reports.
4. It allows everybody to see Dependencies:
  • If one piece is dependent on the other being done, the person who will work on on the 2nd piece can do something else meanwhile.
  • If the dependency is basically waiting for the same person to finish one task after the next, then maybe adding more people will speed up the project.
  • If one piece is taking up a large chunk of time, then maybe it can be broken into smaller pieces - and worked on by many people - or maybe its scope can be reduced for this release.
On smaller projects it often does not make sense to update the schedule. The schedule is simply used as the Master Plan against which you can track and report.

- Danny Schoemann

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