I have been thinking on project scheduling since invitation to speak at a Wake Forest MBA class. Schedule management is much more than Microsoft Project, though an appropriate tool can help the project manager and the team to visualize how the project activities map to success, however, we must have performed sufficient diligence. Putting poor information into a suitable tool will probably produce poor results.
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Projects are not production. On the other hand, there is often a recurring theme or methodology associated with industry and event specific company. Automotive projects are managed a particular way, as are embedded product projects. Our organization may have functional areas that are responsible for specific aspects of the project (such as a verification group). Perhaps our organizational structure is by product or project (all discipline areas included in one group). In either event, we should know the primary steps that are typical in our work even while we explore variations due to the project scope peculiarities. Learn this rhythm. We start learning this rhythm by performing a decomposition of the objectives to specific tasks and that is the Work Breakdown Structure. We then link that to areas of responsibility. Recycling what is common can help us avoid missing steps, however recycling without thinking, may mean repeating the previous project problems.
Part of understanding the rhythm is knowledge of the interdependencies of the machinations of the project. Whether you are a project manager or a person working within a project, fundamentals of project management are necessary for project success. We offer a class we call Working within a Project. This class is directed at facilitating understand of the interconnectedness of the individuals with their areas of responsibility for achieving the project objectives. Ultimately, the parts must metaphorically fit together while everything is moving to achieve the successful end of the project.