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Task Completions

Key Question: Is the number of project task completions going according to plan?

"In a well run project, the number of planned completions should resemble the number of planned tasks chart and lag it by a week or two. Again, no one expects the task completions to plot in a perfectly smooth line rising at 45 degrees from left to right. However, like the planned starts, any irregular 'bumps' in the chart should be defensible by the project manager."

"Again, the respective completions should be small variances along the 'planned' lines. Troubled projects almost always show a huge disconnect between planned completions and actual completions. The number of actual completions tends to hover around the x-axis and then shoot up (resembling a hockey stick). This indicates tasks are not being completed."

"There are several reasons why this occurs, but the result is usually the same - capital is being tied up in unfinished tasks and the budget is eroding at a frenetic pace. This is true only if the task durations are all relatively short and of the same magnitude. Capital will be tied up if you have long-running tasks. It is very difficult to gauge the status of a long-running task. Usually the person performing a long-running task does not realize the completion is in trouble until it is too late. A rule of thumb is to limit task durations to no more than 80 hours. The smooth time phasing of the tasks will then yield the type of curve described previously."

"Again, the risk here is the huge number of open tasks and the uncertainty of their completion. With all this work in progress, there is no telling the true status of the project. The project manager may know the project is probably behind, but there is no way to tell the extent."

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.