Leading Practices used when creating a Project Schedule – 1

This is the first of a series of blogs in which I intend to cover some of the most important aspects of scheduling. These are some leading practices that are applied by many seasoned Project Managers, but are often missed by someone new to the world of Project Management.

These are just some of the recommendations which are helpful to the planning staff, but there are other rules and recommendations that should applied to your schedule depending on the complexity of your project.  All the recommendations provided here are of equal importance and I am not following a structure when numbering them.

1. All tasks should have a unique name

It is a leading practice to use a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) when creating a project plan. By using WBS, Project Managers can group similar activities under a summary task so it is easy to track them. When naming tasks under different summary tasks, it is important that you do not repeat the same task names.

image

Consider the Project schedule shown above. As you can see the schedule has 2 phases. But both the phases have same tasks – Build, Design and Prep for Move In. Imagine if you had 4 or 5 phases with same task names and you had to link tasks between phases. You can easily make a mistake doing so. Or imagine if you were using Project Server timesheet feature and had the same resource assigned to Design in Phase 1 and Phase 2. When that resources goes to his/her timesheet, there would be no way of telling which task belongs to which phase.

But if you used unique names, it will be so much easier to link tasks between phases and resources assigned to these tasks  would know exactly which task they need to submit their time against.

image

2.  Task Names should have a Verb.

Verb is a word used to describe an action, state or occurrence. So to show that there is work done in a task it is essential that we use a verb, not just as a formality, but to help you and your team members better understand the activity that needs to be done.

Consider the following two Task names

    a. Building Permits.

    b. Obtain Building Permits.

If we only say “Building Permits” it does not really give much information about the task, do we need to obtain building permits, do we need to check whether we have already received building permits? On the other hand, if we say “Obtain Building Permits” then the person responsible for the task knows exactly what needs to be done.