Achieving “Good Enough”

The project management team is building their project schedule. They follow the recommended methodology steps and they check off all the required boxes. They iterate. They increment. They flex and adapt. They progressively elaborate. They use the scheduling tool to the maximum limits. Sure seems like the project schedule should be impeccable, doesn’t it? Or does it? Actually, the quest for perfection in project scheduling is jinxed from the start.

It took a long time for me to understand that good enough was, well, good enough – especially when it comes to project planning and scheduling. Way back when, a colleague told me that my project schedule was a model of what I thought would happen on my project. On that first project, I missed his point that my model was not going to be the way things went once the actual project work got started. I spent way too much time in my cube messing with that schedule, re-baselining the project plan to make my variances look better and wondering where I went wrong.

Now I know better.
The place where I spend my time is with the team, not sitting at my computer with the schedule. If I can see everything in my schedule relative to today without paging too far to the left or the right, then life is good. Re-baselining is done for major changes, task types and the logical dependencies between the tasks in my schedule are kept simple, and my schedules are remarkably effective at helping me to keep an eye on the work that is going on. Who knew?

The idea of achieving good enough in your project schedule, your project processes, and your project methods is practical and effective. After all, the time you spend messing with and adjusting your project schedule (and enhancing your tool skills) is time you spend away from your sponsor, your team, your stakeholders and perhaps even your family on the weekends. I am a big fan of achieving good enough in my scheduling efforts and bringing in my projects successfully. Plus it leaves me more time to focus on the important things, like risks, business benefits and scope. How ‘bout you?

Susan Weese

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