The Philosophy of D. Gerard Consulting
Project management has evolved into a rigorous science (ask anyone who has prepared for the PMP exam). Yet, all too often, regardless of the credentials after the project manager’s name, many utilize a management technique which can best be summed up in one word: Reaction.
Before I am mercilessly bludgeoned for this broad generalization, let me clarify. Most project managers I have met over the past 28 years are extremely dedicated, hard working folks. They are overwhelmingly intelligent, multi-talented and able to effectively multi-task. So what’s the problem?
The problem is the project schedule . . . or lack of one. While most projects develop a project plan at the inception of the project, it tends to quickly devolve into an artifact, having little relevance to the latest plan on how and when the work will be completed. On top of this, schedules are rarely resource loaded, meaning the necssary labor and material resources are not developed at the activity level. Further, how often do activities begin with no one referring to the plan? It would be reasonable to ask the following questions before embarking on a new task:
- How much money do we have to complete this task?
- Which resources were allocated to complete the scope of work?
- What are the deliverables at the completion of the task?
- When must the work be completed?
While these questions may be obvious, I can attest that they rarely occur. Think about it . . . What are the chances a task will complete within budget, on time and still meet the required scope if these steps are skipped?
The project schedule, at least at inception, represents a project’s plan for success. Deviating from this plan has repercussions which must be understood. By addressing these repercussions before their impact is felt, the project manager can identify possible mitigating steps. These opportunities are often lost once the task begins and certainly once the task has completed.
When a project is awarded, there are three key elements which are identified in the contract:
- How much money is available to complete the work
- The time-frame in which the work must be completed
- The scope of work to be performed
Each of these must be managed. Where best to manage these than in the project schedule? If not in the schedule . . . where? When the project plan is properly constructed, budgets, timelines and a detailed plan to complete the work scope reside in one document. Also, the schedule links activities to other activities and milestones, providing a graphic view of the impact of changes which inevitably occur to the plan. This affects 1-3 above and must be tracked and managed. The schedule is the only singular tool all three facets of project management oversight can occur.
For this reason, when implementing an EVMS, the effort begins in developing a quality project schedule. Its structure aligns with the WBS and is without a doubt the most essential ingredient of successful project execution. Before embarking on an EVMS implementation, understand that the schedule comes first and is the basis of the EVMS. Further, the project management team focuses their efforts on creating and updating the schedule. The EVMS, the byproduct of the project schedule, provides the metrics necessary in determining trends and establishing realistic estimates to complete. Simply, the schedule is the project manager’s “one-stop-shop” for planning and executing a project.
Project management is a lot of work. Our objective at D. Gerard Consulting is to make sure this effort is well directed. Simple, accessible, scalable and effective.
28 years experience operating and implementing earned value management systems.