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Task Starts

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

"With properly planned projects, the number of planned starts plotted over time should resemble a smooth line rising on an approximate 45-degree angle from left to right. Of course no project will be an exact 45-degree line, but any 'bumps' should be defensible by the project manager. Once the project manager plots the actual task starts, the data points should hover around the original 'planned line' without excessive deviation. This indicates the project is running according to plan."

"With troubled projects, the actual task starts chart will probably shoot up the y-axis and then flatten out (resembling a reverse hockey stick). This indicates that people are opening many new tasks ahead of schedule. The initial reaction from a less-experienced project manager is that it's not a big deal; he or she assumes that the team simply got a better jump on the plan. Although that is certainly a possibility, more likely the team is waiting for others' tasks to finish and opened more tasks to keep busy. This creates a problem when the open tasks require rework because some things are wrong."

"The project manager will have too many open tasks to manage, a lot of work in progress and no way to know the true status of the project."

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.