By Dominic Moss:
Over the past 20 years I have met numerous individuals who aspire to create the perfect project plan. Whilst their dedication to the cause is unquestionable their expectations are probably best described as unrealistic and that will ultimately lead to disappointment.
Perfection and fit for purpose are two subtly different things. I am not advocating carelessness or low standards but a more realistic and workable approach to project planning.
Computer based tools provide us with the means to craft sophisticated and valuable project schedules, however using a tool does not automatically ensure a perfect project plan. Back in the mid 1990’s I was issued with a portable computer that ran a project scheduling software package. This was back in the day when few people in their roles had access to a computer let alone one that could be carried with you. We would visit potential customers and proceed to produce a project plan using the computer, the output was invariably regarded as being beyond question as it was computer generated – in this day and age we are more aware of computers and appreciate that their outputs are only ever as good as our inputs.
A project schedule is an indicative guide rather than a definitive timetable. Producing a precise and 100% accurate project schedule is nigh on impossible as not everything always goes to plan and we cannot always anticipate every possible eventuality that might arise in the prosecution of a project.
However you should strive to build a realistic and workable project schedule to act as your reference point for you to manage and control your project and the following suggestions point as to how you can use Microsoft Project to provide this information.
1. Use “Project Information” to specify the Start Date for your project, for your own sanity and peace of mind stick with the default option “Schedule from Project Start Date” so that all tasks begin as “soon as possible”.
2. Use Auto Scheduled Task Mode not Manually Scheduled Task Mode.
Continue reading My 30 Golden Rules for Creating a Realistic Project Plan in Microsoft Project