Project Management Book

...chapter 7 continued

Project Management Book

Small projects

For small projects something like the plan on the right could be all that is required. A simple bar chart that reminds each group what has to be done and when.

Or, for a team who have done many similar projects before, the plan could simply be a list of dates to remind them of the schedule this time:

Large projects

However, for large projects something quite different will be needed. What follows in an example of a plan for a project with a team of about 20 people. Have a look at the table below - it may look like a jumble of numbers but we will go through it line by line and explain it.

Please do follow this plan through as it lays the ground work for a couple of later topics including the all important project tracking, controlling and reporting.

The table is the plan the project leader put together for himself. The first row is simply a calendar of week-ending dates - so week ending June 9th, June 16th etc.

The next row tells us how much holiday the project leader is planning to take - the numbers being hours. As you can see, he is on holiday for the last two weeks of August and for a day (the bank holiday) in the week ending September 1st. This team had a standard working week of 37 hours.

The next row shows some training courses he has planned. How do you feel about the Sickness row? In fact the planner planned every full time team member 1 hour per week for sickness. DON'T PLAN SICKNESS LIKE THAT! In our view it is quite wrong to plan sickness in this way. Sickness should be put at the end of the stage plan along with contingency but shown separately from contingency so that actual sickness time can be tracked specifically against the sickness 'plan'.

                    Planned Hours For: PROJECT LEADER

Task DescriptionJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctober
Non-this-project time2222222-22--222-22-2
Project Admin/meetings2222222-22--222-22-2
Project Control32323232323232-3218--253232-3232-32
Week Total Non-project333333337317373710333733373
                Project 34 34 34 34 34 34 34 - 34 20 - - 27 34 34 - 34 34 - 34

As an aside, let us lay to rest a quite common novice's planning error with a little quiz. Imagine you work in a company that pays you for 37 hours a week. You have a one year long project. A person is assigned to your project full time for the whole year. On average, how many hours project work will that person do per week? For argument's sake, let's say a full time team member will on average do 29 project hours per week over a year.

You are now planning that person for next week. Next week he will be in the office for 5 days working full time on your project. How many hours project work should you plan him to do next week?

We hope you didn't say 29! Why is 29 definitely the wrong answer? Because it is an annual average - averaging out some weeks when he is there and some weeks when he's away on holiday or on a course or sick. So, bearing in mind that lunch time is not included in the 37 hours and time to discuss football or gaze out of the window is included in task estimates (yes - talking about football is a project activity!), in a week when he is going to be in the office should he have 37 hours project work to do?

In our example the planner would have said 35. He would argue that even a full time project team member will typically spend 2 hours a week doing legitimate non-project activities such as:

The amount of non-project time will depend upon your environment and may vary by person. For example, a team member from HR, although nominally full time on the project, may have to attend an HR meeting every month, keep abreast of HR matters by reading emails, etc, whereas a contractor will have no such distractions and all 37 hours will be planned for project work (and indeed contractors may be employed for 40 hours a week so have 40 project hours planned per week.) If a team member is only assigned to the project for, say, 50% of their time they would have around 18 hours a week showing on the 'Non-this-project time' row.

The next row, Project Admin/meetings, tells us the project leader will spend 2 hours a week attending the (Monday morning) team meeting and doing admin tasks such as time recording. And the next row, Project Control, tells us he will spend most of his time controlling his team - he has no 'real work' tasks to do.

The tool has then added up for us the non-project and the project hours each week. The TOTALS row will always come to 37, except for contractors where it could be 40 and for part-time employees where it will show how many hours they are employed per week.

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