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Successful Project Management: Modifying the Project Schedule

This chapter from Successful Project Management: Applying Best Practices, Proven Methods, and Real-World Techniques with Microsoft Project reviews different alternatives for optimizing your project schedule and how they affect duration, cost, scope, and quality (and whether the people who work on your project ever get to go home).
  • “The more alternatives, the more difficult the choice.”

  • ABBE D’A LLANIVAL

Getting the project schedule just the way stakeholders want it is like juggling chainsaws. You have to pay attention to every detail or the results could be disastrous. One of the challenges is that you have so many alternatives from which to choose. Do you shorten the schedule and increase the cost? Do you sacrifice quality or reduce the scope? Do you look for more resources or look at how you can use the ones you already have more effectively?

But you have to start somewhere. This chapter reviews different alternatives for optimizing your project schedule and how they affect duration, cost, scope, and quality (and whether the people who work on your project ever get to go home). Each section explains how to apply these alternatives to your project schedule using Microsoft Project features.

Simplifying Solution Hunting

Setting up views and selecting options can make your search for solutions easier. Here are some setup tasks to complete before you start looking for ways to improve your schedule.

Here are the steps for displaying summary tasks and the project summary task:

  • Display summary tasks. On the Format tab, in the Show/Hide group, select the Summary tasks check box, and then the Project Summary Task check box. Whether you’re trying to shorten duration or cut costs, summary tasks make it easy to see if you’re getting the results you want. The project summary task shows start and finish dates, total duration, work, and cost for your project. Summary tasks show similar fields for portions of your project. As you make changes, you can check these fields to see whether you are obtaining the results you want.

  • Display the critical path and the baseline. The Tracking Gantt view displays gray taskbars for your baseline schedule (as shown in Figure 13-1), blue taskbars for noncritical tasks in your current schedule, and red taskbars for critical path tasks in your current schedule.

    Figure 13-1

    Figure 13-1 The Tracking Gantt view displays the critical path and includes taskbars for the baseline so you can compare actual progress to your plan.