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PRINCE2 - Planning (PL) part 6



Scheduling (PL5)

Fundamental principles

A plan can only show the ultimate feasibility of achieving its objectives when the activities are put together in a schedule that defines when each activity will be carried out.

Context

Scheduling follow estimates of the time for each activity and is then followed by an assessment of the risks inherent in the plan.
The schedule may need to be revisited during the Planning (PL) process to refine and improve the way in which the plan will be carried out.

Process description

The objectives of scheduling are to:

  • Match available resources to the identified activities
  • Schedule work according to the defined sequence and dependencies
  • Smooth resource usage within the bounds of the identified dependencies and any overall time constraints
  • Identify surplus resource effort or additional resource effort needed and negotiate with the Project Board to resolve these
  • Calculate total requirements for human and other resources and produce a cost for these

There are many different approaches to scheduling.
The steps can either be done manually or by using a computer-based planning and control tool.

The steps are typically:

Draw an activity network

This is covered in more detail elsewhere in Task and event [see Manual methods – part 3a – task flow charts].

Take the list of activities and their durations and produce a network of the activities, based on the dependencies, from beginning to end.
This provides useful information, such as what the total duration might be given no resource constraints. (An example for the organisation of a conference is given in file ‘conference activity network.doc’ in the product package)

Assess resource availability

The number of people who will be available to do the work (or the cost of buying in resources) should now be established.
Any specific information should also be noted – for example, names, level or experience, percentage availability, dates available from and to, external or internal resource.

The project may also require non-human resources; his availability must also be assessed.

Produce a draft schedule and assign responsibilities

Using the resource availability and the information from the activity network, resources are now allocated to activities.
The rule is ‘allocate resources in order of ascending float’, that is, allocate resources first to activities with zero float (which, by definition, are on the critical path).

Those activities with the greatest amount of spare time (float) are lowest in priority for resource allocation.

The result will be a schedule that shows the loading of work on each person and the usage of non-people resources.
The duration of each activity can be amended, based on knowledge of the resource effort required and the availability of the appropriate resource type.

The schedule is often displayed as a Gantt chart. (An example for the organisation of a conference is given in file ‘conference gantt chart.doc’ in the product package)

Level resource usage

The scheduling of any allowances should be considered and built into the plan.

The first allocation of resources may result in uneven resource usage, maybe even over-utilisation of some resources at certain times.
Responsibilities are reassigned, activities moved about within any ‘float’ they may have, and activity durations changed from the original estimate to reflect resource constraints.

The end result of this step is a final schedule in which all activities have been assigned and resource usage equates to resource availability.

Confirm control points

The first draft schedule enables the control points identified earlier, (see the example of the Product Flow Diagram for the organisation of a conference in the file ‘conference product flow diagram.doc’ in the product package), to be confirmed by the Project Board.
End of stage activities (for example, drawing up the next Stage Plan, producing an End Stage Report) should be added to the activity network and a new schedule produced.

Calculate resources and costs

The resource requirements can now be tabulated and the cost of the resources and other costs calculated to produce the plan budget.
Remember to consult Project Assurance personnel in case they wish to add specific resources to quality checking activities.

Responsibilities

The Project Manager is responsible for this sub-process.

For Team Plans, the Project Manager would involve the person responsible for the work contained in the plan, for example, a Team Manager.

Help may be provided by Project Support staff allocated to the project.

Information needs
Management information Usage Explanation
Activity estimates Input When studied with the resource numbers, these give the activity duration.
Activity dependencies Input These give the required sequence of work in the schedule.
Resource availability Input The start and end dates of resource availability, plus the amount of time they are available in this period, are required.
Schedule Output A list of activities and their allocated resources, plus the dates over which the activities will take place.

These are given in tabular form in the file ‘PL5 Scheduling.doc’ in the product package.

Key criteria

  • Have all types of required resource been considered?
  • Has the critical path been identified?
  • Has sufficient monitoring been planned for activities on the critical path?
  • Have any training requirements been incorporated?
  • Has resource availability been realistically assessed?

At project level, resources need not be identified by name, but the type of skills required to carry out an activity should be identified.

The available of the resources require (including those required for quality reviews) should be checked with the relevant line managers.

Be realistic about the availability of resources.
Allowances should be made for holidays and time that people will spend on non-project activities.
The average working week is only four days after allowing for holidays, training, sickness, etc.
Of those four days, at least another half-day will be spent on other duties, even by dedicated staff – for example, reviewing for other projects, line management and meetings.

The use of a skills matrix may assist a schedule when using internal resources.
This will allow appropriate people to be pin pointed, as well as giving an overall view of the skills available to the project.

When the availability of resources has been discussed with line mangers, any agreement reached with them should be documented immediately.

Non - PRINCE2 information

This product contains EVERYTHING in the publications:

Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 - 2005 edition
Managing successful Projects with PRINCE2 – 2009 edition
Directing Projects with PRINCE2.
plus:
The Complete Project Management package.

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