By definition projects are of a transient nature: their lifetime is finite, and their days are numbered. For the project manager this means that the management of time is a crucial skill to master. Even on projects where time to completion is not a hard constraint, poor or non-existent scheduling or time management will affect the remaining project constraints: cost, quality, and customer satisfaction. In short, wasting time not only wastes money, but has the potential to ruin everything, including a project manager's credibility.
This chapter covers the project time management process and describes some practical tools and techniques to aid the process. It is important for a project manager to understand timing and scheduling and how to make planning tools work for their project and not the other way round.
The rise of project management as a professional skill has been accompanied by a proliferation of project management software programs. The vast majority of these programs are designed to aid time management; however, as Hobbes said of words, time management software is for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools. Software is only an aid to the project manager: the simplest programs can produce highly complex schedules and progress charts, but these are only as good as the plan they are fed into. Experience has shown that projects that proceed with a well-planned, regulated tempo are easier to control than those that move in fits and starts. The underlying reason for this is that real projects do not exist in isolation, but mirror the organizational structure and environment in which they operate. The successful project manager is acutely aware of the drumbeat within his project environment and ensures that he marches in step with it.
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