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Spending More Time

"Anyone can recognize a runaway project when the cost and schedule are running three, four or ten times the original estimate. If the project budget and schedule have been grossly exceeded, you already know you have a project that is out of control. What you really want is to understand long before these nightmarish events just when your project is spinning out of control."

"It is important to understand that the project schedule and related budget will not go exactly as planned. There will be tasks that are completed in more hours or fewer hours than the original estimates. Most likely, there will be scope changes that affect the overall schedule and budget. By taking a periodic look at the project's actual progress against its planned progress you will begin to see the early warning signs and trends that you have a potential disaster on your hands."

Key Question: What was the actual time spent on each task versus the original estimate?

"There are some legitimate reasons for spending more time and money on a project than what was originally allocated. If you practice rigorous project change control, however, the schedule or budget 'overage' should not be a surprise because it would have already been approved. Troubled projects tend to be victims of poor change control. Quite often, either the project manager is inexperienced in good change control methods or the project team members are constantly allowing 'a tiny change' on a regular basis. Project scope can get out of hand quickly and severely."

"By having the working team members report on the actual start date, end date, and hours spent on their tasks you can spot trends in your project by comparing the actuals against your plan and noting the variances."

"Once you understand what happened and why the variances occurred you are on your way to knowing to what degree the project is out of control and whether missed deadlines and requests for more money are anomalies or trends."

The above is an excerpt from a book written by Sanjiv Purba and Joseph Zucchero, published by McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2100 Powell Street, 10th Floor, Emeryville, California 94608 U.S.A. Sanjiv has over 20 years of experience managing large projects and many years engaged in rescuing ailing projects.