Project Management Book

...chapter 7 continued

Any good project planning and tracking tool should be able to do something like this for you. The left-hand-most column of numbers is no more than an addition of all the hours in the plan. For example, top left, the team will have 2443 hours holiday over the duration of the project stage. They shall be sick for 448 hours. How do we know how sick they're going to be? Look across to the third column from the right hand side: there's a figure of 2.4. That's 2.4%. In other words the 448 sickness hours represent 2.4% of the team members' time. Why 2.4%? Well, that's how sick they were last year - we're just re-using past factual information.

The second block are project investments (not overheads!). The P1 row tells us the team plan to invest 877 hours in team meetings and admin tasks such as time recording. Please would you add up the P4, P5 and P6 hours? They come to 1253. This is the change budget - the planner thinks 1253 hours will be spent investigating, implementing and controlling changes during the stage. Please look across to the 6th column in from the right hand side and add up those three numbers (coloured green). They come to 8.7 which simply tells us that the 1253 hours for change are 8.7% of the project hours. And you've guessed it, it's 8.7% because that's roughly what it had been in project stages like this in the past.

Please imagine you are the manager of this project. We are now at the end of week 4 of this 24 week stage. According to the plan, how many hours holiday should the team have taken so far? 228 hours. And how many have they actually taken? 246 hours. So, over the first four weeks they've had 8% more holiday than they told you about. Now please look at the P6 row, PCR Control. The fourth number along is 2.42 - what is that telling us?

                    EFFORT DISTRIBUTION

 -------Hours----------Of Category--Of Proj / Non-Proj-Of Grand Total-
 Total---To Date---Total-To Date- Total-To Date-Total -To Date-
  Vacation 24432282461.0861.341.245.761.140.144.613.47.88.6
  Courses 22690971.085.716.218.05.715.817.
  Sickness 44889240.2711.216.14.511.
  Non-this-project 8821611851.1521.826.531.822.028.433.
NON PROJECT TOTAL 39995685520.9810010010010010010021.919.519.3
  Proj admin/meets P18771571951.2514.015.518.
  Proj control P249196730.777.
  Team Leading P318563223511.1029.731.832.913.013.715.
  PCR Investigation P46071221050.879.712.
  PCR ImplementationP546873150.
  PCR Control P6178431042.422.
  Quality Assurance QA613-31009.8-0.34.3-0.13.4-0.1
  Int Qual check Q17540260.651.
  Ext Qual check QE--10100--0.9--0.4--0.3
  Technical Assur TA44496830.877.
  Staff Support PS64064671.0510.
  Actions activity PA--35100--3.3--1.5--1.2
Investments Totals 6249101310671.0610010010043.743.
"Real Work"  
  Task TypeFD8193533801.0810.226.430.65.715.016.54.512.113.3
  Task TypeQ1649--0.80.7-0.40.4-0.30.3-
  Task TypeR18211171.551.
  Task TypeDD10231321110.8512.
  Task TypeQ21111040.411.
  Task TypeR2122571.401.
  Task TypeDU124---1.5--0.9--0.7--
  Task TypeQI16---0.2--0.1--0.1--
  Task Type3A2101181940.5226.113.57.614.
  Task TypeCO406---5.0--2.8--2.2--
  Task TypeQ34941851230.676.
  Task TypeR32028--2.50.6-1.40.3-1.10.3-
  Task TypeOR2652592721.063.319.321.91.911.
  Task TypeCM619931431.547.76.911.
  Task TypeQA5833170.520.
  Task TypeCD31---0.4--0.2--0.2--
  Task TypeUT31---0.4--0.2--0.2--
  Task TypeQ43------------
  Task TypeR44------------
  Task TypeP31515201.340.
  Task TypeST3535431.
  Task TypeUS142010101.0017.
Real Work Totals 8045133912410.9310010010056.356.953.844.045.943.4
PROJECT TOTALS 14294235223080.9910010010078.180.580.7
GRAND TOTALS 18293292028600.98100100100

Over the first four weeks the team have spent nearly two and a half times more hours on PCR Control than expected - 104 hours vs a plan of 43 hours. If you were the project manager would you ignore that information? You'd investigate. It could simply be a time recording error or it could be a start up problem that won't recur - both of those would be good news. But if you conclude you haven't allowed anything like enough time for PCR Control in your plan what would you do? You'd adjust the plan to allocate more hours to that activity over the remaining 20 weeks of the stage. With luck you're rebalancing - something somewhere else is running under estimate. If you're not so lucky everything is running over and you may have a real problem. What we are getting here is early warning: so far, activity by activity, how good have the estimates proven to be.

In small projects you don't need this data as you can track each person and each task individually. But beyond a certain team size you can't do that any more and you need something like this to distil the essence out of the detail so you can read the runes (to mix a couple of metaphors).

One last thing on this page: what will the fourth column from the right tell us when we reach the end of the stage? It will tell us, to one decimal place, what percentage of the project hours was actually spent on meetings, on change, on rework, etc. Might that data be valuable when planning the next similar project? Absolute gold dust. You've got a checklist of all the task types that were done and what percentage each was of the total project hours.

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Project Management Manual

For those of you involved in software development, look at the 3A row. 3A tasks are coding tasks - actually tapping the keyboard to write code. It is planned to be 14.3% of all the hours in this stage and this is the code and test stage. So if this stage is around 60% of the total project cost - requirements and UFD accounting for the other 40% - coding works out at around 8.5% of the total project cost. So, in a software development project less than 9% of the project cost is actually what a programmer might consider to be 'software development'.

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