What is Project Time Management?
Let us first understand, what is project time management? The project time management is an act of exercising or planning the conscious control on the time spent on specific tasks or activities. Time Management increases the effectiveness, efficiency or productivity of a person, organization or a project. Time management in project management includes the processes required to manage the timely completion of the project.
Project Time Management Processes
An overview of the Project Time Management processes are as follows:
- Define Activities.
- Sequence Activities.
- Estimate Activity Resources.
- Estimate Activity Durations.
- Develop Schedule.
- Control Schedule.
Time Management in Project Management – Processes
On some projects, especially those of smaller scope, defining activities, sequencing activities, estimating activity resources, estimating activity durations, and developing the schedule model are so tightly linked that they are viewed as a single process that can be performed by a person over a relatively short period of time. Project time management in these processes are presented here as distinct elements because the tools and techniques for each process are different.
The Define Activities process is a further breakdown of the work package elements of the WBS. It documents the specific activities needed to fulfill the deliverables detailed on the WBS and the project scope statement. The key benefit of this process is to break down work packages into activities that provide a basis for estimating, scheduling, executing, monitoring, and controlling the project work.
Define Activities Process Inputs
The following are inputs to the Define Activities process:
- Scope baseline (deliverables, constraints, and assumptions).
- Enterprise environmental factors (project management information systems).
- Organizational process assets (existing guidelines and policies, lessons learned knowledge base).
Tools and Techniques for Defining Activities
The tools and techniques of the Define Activities process are as follows:
Decomposition involves breaking the work packages into smaller, more manageable units of work called activities. These are not deliverables but the individual units of work that must be completed to fulfill the deliverables listed in the WBS. Time management in project management activities will help in later planning processes to define estimates and create the project schedule.
Rolling wave planning:
Rolling wave planning is an iterative planning technique in which the work to be accomplished in the near term is planned in detail, while the work in the future is planned at a higher level. It is a form of progressive elaboration. Therefore, work can exist at various levels of detail depending on where it is in the project life cycle. During early strategic planning, when information is less defined, work packages may be decomposed to the known level of detail. As more is known about the upcoming events in the near term, work packages can be decomposed into activities.
Expert judgement, in the form of project team members with prior experience developing project scope statements and WBSs, can help you define activities.
Define Activities Outputs
Define Activities in project time management has three outputs:
- Activity list
- Activity attributes
- Milestone list
One primary output of the Define Activities process is an activity list. The activity list should contain all the schedule activities that will be performed for the project, with a scope of work description of each activity and an identifier (such as a code or number) so that team members understand what the work is and how it is to be completed.
Activity attributes describe the characteristics of the activities and are an extension of the activity list. Activity attributes will change over the life of the project as more information is known. In the early stages of the project, activity attributes might include the activity ID, the WBS identification code it’s associated with, and the activity name. As you progress through the project and complete other Planning processes, you might add predecessor and successor activities, logical relationships, leads and lags, resource requirements, and constraints and assumptions associated with the activity.
Milestones are typically major accomplishments of the project and mark the completion of major deliverables or some other key event in the project. For example, approval and sign-off on project charter might be considered as milestone. The milestone list records these accomplishments and documents whether the milestone is mandatory or optional. Milestones are similar to regular schedule activities, with the same structure and attributes, but they have zero duration because milestones represent a moment in time.
Now that you’ve identified the schedule activities, you need to sequence them in a logical order and find out whether dependencies exist among the activities. During Sequence Activities, you will use a host of inputs and tools and techniques to produce the primary output, project schedule network diagrams.
Sequence Activities: Inputs
- Activity List.
- Activity Attributes.
- Milestone List.
- Project Scope Statement.
You’ve already seen all the inputs to this process. They are activity list, activity attributes, milestone list, project scope statement, and organizational process assets. We’ll look at several new tools and techniques next.
Sequence Activities Tools and Techniques
Sequence Activities in project time management has three tools and techniques, all of which are new to you:
- Dependency determination.
- Precedence diagramming method (PDM).
- Applying leads and lags.
Dependencies are relationships between the activities in which one activity is dependent on another to complete an action, or perhaps an activity is dependent on another to start an action before it can proceed.
Consider a classic example. Let’s say you’re going to paint your house, but unfortunately, it’s fallen into a little disrepair. The old paint is peeling and chipping and will need to be scraped before a coat of primer can be sprayed on the house. After the primer dries, the painting can commence. In this example, the primer activity depends on the scraping. You can’t prime the house before scraping off the peeling paint. The painting activity depends on the primer activity in the same way. You really shouldn’t start painting until the primer has dried.
Dependencies may be characterized by the following attributes: mandatory or discretionary, internal or external, as described below.
Mandatory dependencies are those that are legally or contractually required or inherent in the nature of the work. Mandatory dependencies often involve physical limitations, such as on a construction project, where it is impossible to erect the superstructure until after the foundation has been built, or on an electronics project, where a prototype has to be built before it can be tested. Mandatory dependencies are also sometimes referred to as hard logic or hard dependencies. The scraping, primer, and painting sequence is an example of mandatory dependencies.
Discretionary dependencies are defined by the project team. Discretionary dependencies are also known as preferred logic, soft logic, or preferential logic. These are usually process- or procedure-driven or “best-practice” techniques based on past experience. For example, both past experience and best practices on house painting projects have shown that all trim work should be hand-painted while the bulk of the main painting work should be done with a sprayer.
External dependencies are, well, external to the project. This might seem obvious, but the PMBOK® Guide points out that even though the dependency is external to the project (and therefore a non-project activity), it impacts project activities. For example, perhaps your project is researching and marketing a new drug. The FDA must approve the drug before your company can market it. This is not a project activity, but the project cannot move forward until approval occurs. That means FDA approval is an external dependency.
Once you’ve identified the dependencies and assembled all the other inputs for the Sequence Activities process in project time management, you’ll take this information and produce a diagram—or schematic display—of the project activities. The project schedule network diagram shows the dependencies—or logical relationships—that exist among the activities. You can use one of the other tools and techniques of this process to produce this output. You’ll now examine each in detail.
Note: This lecture explaining “What is Project Time Management?” is included in online project management certification, which is a part of online diploma in project management and project management degree online program – offered by the Academy for International Modern Studies (or AIMS) in UK. AIMS is a globally recognized institute for globally recognized project management qualifications.