Goal: Put tasks, phases, or the project back on schedule

After you identify problems in your schedule, you can use a variety of strategies to manage your project dates. For example, you can simply change a task's duration, or you can adjust other factors affecting the schedule, such as dependencies, constraints, and resources. After you make the necessary adjustments, you should evaluate any effects your changes might have had on other projects and communicate changes to team members and stakeholders.

Tip: This article is part of a series of articles within the Project Map that describe a broad set of project management activities. We call these activities "goals" because they are organized around the project management life cycle: Build a plan, track and manage a project, and close a project.

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Put tasks back on schedule goal

number 1  Modify a task schedule    One way to get back on schedule is to change specific settings on tasks that affect their length and their relationships to other tasks. For example, changing a task that starts after another task to starting at the same time can help bring in the finish date.

Click all of the following that apply:

  • Change a task duration to get your project back on track. If it's possible, the simplest way to fix your schedule is to shorten a task duration, especially for those tasks that are on the critical path.

  • Review and change a task linkto ensure that two tasks are logically related to each other. For example, if two tasks in your project can start at the same time but are linked so that one follows the other, changing the link could help shorten the project.

  • Delay or overlap tasks by setting lead or lag time in order to help keep your project on schedule. For example, you can overlap tasks that occur on the critical path or delay a noncritical task so that a resource can work on another, more critical task.

  • Review and set a start date or finish date (constraint) for a task to remove an unwanted time limitation on the task. An inflexible constraint placed on a task, especially if the task falls on the critical path, can limit the ability of Microsoft Office Project 2007 to reschedule tasks. If a task doesn't need to start or end on a specific date, change the constraint to As Soon As Possible.

  • Modify the project calendar to change when and how long resources work on tasks and potentially shorten the overall duration of the project.

  • Modify the resource calendar to change when and how long resources work and potentially shorten the overall duration of the tasks the resources work on.

  • Create a calendar for a task to manage that task's duration. A task calendar applied to a task can lengthen a duration if schedule times conflict with the calendar applied to the assigned resource.

  • Update an interim plan so you can compare it to your schedule as the project progresses. You can save up to 10 interim plans so that you can view a set of start and finish dates saved at various stages of your project.

Number 2  Modify a resource schedule    After you make changes to your plan, changing how you assign resources to critical tasks can also significantly improve the schedule.

Do all of the following that apply:

  • Assign a resource to the team. Assigning more resources to tasks on the critical path can help decrease the durations of tasks and shorten the length of the project. A resource can be a single person, such as Ben Smith, or it can be a group, such as Architects. It can be a piece of equipment such as a crane or a computer. Or it can be material consumed in the course of accomplishing the task.

  • Replace a resource assignment if it will help tasks to finish earlier. You might want to replace a resource to resolve overallocations, reduce costs, increase efficiency, or increase quality.

  • Set working times, vacations, and holidays for your project to decrease the duration of a task. This works because, by default, Project 2007 uses effort-driven scheduling, which means that as work hours are added to a task, the duration of that task decreases.

  • Update an interim plan so you can compare it to your schedule as the project progresses. You can save up to 10 interim plans so that you can view a set of start and finish dates saved at various stages of your project.

  • Improve resource performance by providing resources with training and better tools to do their jobs, by applying management skills to resource issues, and so on. Improving performance is sometimes the only solution if additional people are not available to help.

     More . . .

    An often overlooked means of keeping your schedule on track is to improve resource performance. Working with resources to improve performance is a complex topic, but you may be able to improve resource performance as part of project management by using the following suggestions:

    • Increase technical skills    Increasing technical skills includes additional training for current tasks and for other tasks the resource might be doing in the near future, such as training for new technologies as they become available.

    • Give resources better tools to do their jobs    Resources sometimes perform below their abilities because they don't have the best tools for their jobs. These tools could be anything from better, more efficient lathes for metal working to faster Internet connections for searching the World Wide Web.

    • Improve employee relationship skills    This strategy includes improving an employee's sense of teamwork or helping the employee understand how his or her efforts fit into the big picture. You can improve employees' communication skills by making sure they are trained in the efficient use of the company's communication technologies.

    • Improve the manager's management skills    Managers who have had training or coaching in management skills can maximize a project team's efforts. Well-trained managers ensure that everyone is appropriately challenged and motivated, that resources have the tools they need to do their jobs, and that they have access to expertise and reference materials that might help them.

Number 3  Evaluate the results of changing the schedule    After you make changes to your plan, make sure you haven't affected the scheduling of other projects with dependencies in your project.

Click all of the following that apply:

  • See what's driving the project finish date to see how the changes you made to optimize for the finish date affected the critical path. This can help you see whether you actually achieved your goal of meeting your targeted finish date.

  • View project date information to view date information for your project or for projects that have been published to Microsoft Office Project Server 2007.

  • Review resource workloads to see whether any assigned resources are now overloaded or underutilized as a result of you optimizing the project plan to meet the finish date.

Number 4  Communicate assignment changes to resources    After you make changes to your project, you may need to communicate these changes to others, such as stakeholders and team members.

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