Scheduling Philosophy


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Execution means going out and implementing what has been planned. This seems obvious, but a lot of programs are continually in a state of firefighting because there is no real plan. Not all the projects in a program have to follow the same execution strategy. The program manager’s responsibility for execution begins with establishing the scheduling plans for projects in the program. This is a conscious decision that has to be made on the basis of the priority of the projects, the resources available, the planning horizon, and the organizational constraints. This is a key aspect of setting up a culture that fosters project success. Even in dynamic environments you must have a plan or a series of short plans tailored to the rapidly changing environment

Our 8 part Guide to Program Execution Processes will guide you through processes to plan and execute a variety of projects so you aren’t constantly putting out fires!

Guide to Program Execution Processes

Part 1 of 8: Establish an Appropriate Planning Horizon
Part 2 of 8: Establish a Scheduling Philosophy
Part 3 of 8: Implement a Stage Gate Process to Ensure Proper Execution of the Planned Schedule
Part 4 of 8: Maintain Integrity with Change Control
Part 5 of 8: Create a Status Process That Allows You To Regulate Execution
Part 6 of 8: Ten Obstacles to Effective Project Status
Part 7 of 8: Project Status Meeting Frequency
Part 8 of 8: Guidelines for an Effective Project Status

Part 2 of 8: Establish a Scheduling Philosophy

The planning horizon is a reality that poses a challenge in the creation of schedules and delivery dates. Traditionally, organizations often have used the critical path method to establish project schedules even though this method assumes unlimited resources. The critical path shows the longest path of project tasks that result in the shortest possible schedule. But the critical path method will not produce a valid schedule in a resource constrained environment because it is not resource-leveled and it assumes unlimited resources.

In time-constrained resource leveling, the end date is fixed and resources are added to the project until the desired end date or critical path method end date is achievable. With time-constrained resource leveling, time is more important than money. An example of time-constrained resource leveling would be a construction project in support of the Olympics in which the date is not flexible. The end date is fixed, and you must add resources to solve problems or sacrifice requirements to make sure you make the end date.

Fixed Delivery-Date Scheduling
A popular variation of time-constrained resource leveling is fixed delivery-date scheduling. In fixed delivery-date scheduling, the resources may or may not be capped but the end date is fixed. To accommodate the end date, the requirements may be adjusted. Therefore, the project begins with the project manager and stakeholders putting all the requirements in priority order. As the project progresses toward the end date, the project manager constantly assesses the team’s ability to deliver all the requirements and eliminate as many requirements as necessary to hold to the delivery date. Obviously, the requirements judged to be lower priority are eliminated. After delivery, the list of eliminated requirements is integrated with any new requirements, and the process starts over. The advantage of this method is that it stabilizes the operational environment. Training and implementation can be better planned.

Rolling-Wave Scheduling
Still another way to accommodate a planning horizon that is shorter than the project duration is to use rolling-wave scheduling, which essentially establishes a planning horizon in which a detailed project schedule is generated for the planning horizon (the current wave) and a general direction with major tasks is maintained for the remainder of the project (future waves). During the execution of this scheduling period, planning for the next scheduling period takes place. This continues until the project is complete. There is also the traditionally accepted method of scheduling projects in which the entire project schedule is planned at the beginning.

All program managers need to give adequate consideration to the chosen execution paths for projects and realize that not all the projects in a program have to follow the same execution strategy. For example, a program’s top-priority projects may be time-constrained, with program resources allocated to those projects to meet those dates. Projects of lesser priority may have their end dates slide to accommodate the fact that there aren’t sufficient resources to accommodate all the project tasks. The program manager’s responsibility for execution begins with establishing the scheduling plans for projects in the program. This is a conscious decision that has to be made on the basis of the priority of the projects, the resources available, the planning horizon, and the organizational constraints. This is a key aspect of setting up a culture that fosters project success.

Once your team has decided on their plan and process, PPM software can help you execute that process. WorkOtter helps you successfully execute your program process strategy for project success. Get a demo of WorkOtter and see how we can make your program management effective.

“The Handbook of Program Management: How to Facilitate Project Success with Optimal Program Management, Second Edition” by James T. Brown is a copyrighted work of McGraw-Hill and McGraw-Hill reserves all rights in and to the Content. ©2014 by McGraw-Hill Education. Purchase the book on Amazon.