The Final Project Task List Meeting

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Integrated Project Management
By Earl Hall, Juliane Johnson
Table of Contents
Chapter 5.  The Project Task List


At this meeting, the project manager will ask each task leader to claim his or her individual task(s). Every task on the list must be someone's responsibility. If any of these tasks are unclaimed, additional people must be recruited to perform them and brought into the project team.

A very important set of action items will be assigned at this meeting. Each team member will be asked to determine 1) Which task(s) must be completed immediately before "my" task can start? 2) Who will do "my" task work? 3) How much effort, in terms of days or weeks, is required? 4) How long will the task take? and 5) What other resources will be needed?

The sample template shown in Table 5-1 is recommended to record this information, which is to be used at the next meeting. This sample identifies the tasks that one member of the team, Joe, is responsible for.

Task leaders must consult with their workgroups, asking each worker to put careful thought into estimating the amount of effort involved in their task (see column 3 on the task template in Table 5-1).

Workers must be asked what percentage of time they can devote to the task, along with their other responsibilities. This may amount up to 50 percent of their time, or perhaps only 20 percent. Effort, divided by the percentage of time devoted to the task, determines the task's duration. A task that requires one week of effort from a group working only half of the time will have a two-week duration.

A project manager cannot expect absolute accuracy in effort and duration estimates. Asking task leaders for guaranteed duration times results in a somewhat padded time span, which is harmful to good project planning.

Workers must not buffer the estimates, but they provide estimates expected to be good "most of the time." The worker's past experience, or what is learned discussing the experiences of others, determines the "most of the time" estimate. "Most of the time" estimates will be good some percentage of the time when a like task is undertaken. With routine tasks, this percentage may be 95 percent of the time. Estimates for technical tasks, or those involving developmental efforts with few technical difficulties anticipated, may be considered good 80 percent of the time. "Most of the time" may mean only 70 percent if technical difficulties or resource availability is anticipated. For tasks where the workgroup has limited experience and only limited available input from outside sources, 60 percent may be the time estimate to use.

The project manager can suggest these guidelines to the task leaders, but he or she should not suggest which percentages to apply. The task workgroup must use their judgment and experience in providing a "most of the time" estimate at this planning stage. Some technical people are leery of task time estimates. To get around this problem, ask the question "How long does it take you to drive to work, most of the time?" This question may help explain to them the type of estimate that is needed.

Table 5-1.

(1)

Predecessor

(2)

Who will work on the Task

(3)

Effort in Days or Weeks

(4)

Time Commitment

(5)

Duration (Effort/Commitment in percent)

Preliminary Sketch

Design Team/Joe, Mary, Tom

4 weeks

50%

8 weeks

Assembly Design

Joe and Mary

3 weeks

100%

3 weeks

         
         
         
         
         
         
         

This procedure also provides information for the initial time baseline. Some tasks are going to overrun estimates, which stretches out the project and must and will be accounted for in the Chapter 8 risk analysis and time buffer calculations. However, experience shows that "most of the time" estimates seldom overestimate the task time by much. When wrong, it is underestimated.

The chapters on risk analysis explain how to develop time buffers to take care of the time overruns of some project tasks. The team will work with the project manager on this analysis and will develop risk factors to insert in the plan timeline later in the project planning effort. What is needed at this time are good "most of the time" task time estimates.

IPM procedures eliminate task time estimate padding. Estimates used in developing the project Gantt chart are tight. All task leaders must recognize this fact and realize some tasks may overrun, but they must still work hard to meet their estimates. If, with conscientious commitment, a task does run over, the project manager must not criticize the task leader and the workgroup. The risk factor determined during risk analysis will absorb this overrun at the end of the task stream. Thus, all task leaders must understand that the risk factors are only required for unpredictable difficulties.

The meeting following the last task meeting is the first of the project Gantt chart meetings. Team members must allow enough time to gather task time and resources information for this meeting and should schedule it as soon as possible. Each team member must bring his or her completed task template (refer to Table 5-1) to the second Gantt chart meeting.


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    Integrated Project Management
    Integrated Project Management
    ISBN: 0071466266
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2005
    Pages: 190

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