Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
As things slide in your project (and they will, trust me), you’ll spot that slack
is being eaten up because the slack task is suddenly ending later than the
date you’d wanted the phase to end. You can change the duration of the slack
task, reflecting the fact that your slack is being used up. The duration of that
task will give you a good indication of how much more time you have before
the entire phase will go critical.
Doing it in less time
If you do your homework and add slack to tasks, you’re making your plan
realistic, but the price you pay is that you’re adding time to your project.
What happens when your project finish date just won’t cut it with the
powers-that-be? That’s when you have to try a few tactics to chop your
timing down to size.
Check your dependencies
The timing of your plan is determined, to a great extent, by the timing
relationships you build among tasks: that is, by dependencies. So ask yourself,
Did I build all my dependencies in the best way I could? Perhaps you didn’t
start one task until another was completely finished, but you could actually
start the second task two days before the end of its predecessor. Building in
that kind of overlap will save you time.
Use the Task Drivers feature, covered in the earlier section of this chapter,
“Spotting Task Drivers,” to help you scope out dependencies.
Here’s an example: You created a finish-to-start relationship for the Do
Research and Write Speech tasks, such that you could not start writing the
speech until your research was finished. But is that true? Couldn’t you do a
first draft of the speech starting three-fourths of the way through the research?
Especially when you have two different resources working on those tasks,
getting the second task going before the first is complete can save you time.
Over the life of a project with hundreds of tasks, adding that kind of overlap
to even a few dozen tasks could save you a month of time or more!
You can take a refresher course in creating and changing dependencies in
Chapter 6.
We could use some help here!
Another factor that drives timing is the availability of resources. Sometimes
you set a dependency relationship where one task can’t start before another
is over simply because the resources aren’t available until the predecessor
task is over. Here are a few things to look for with resource-dependent timing:
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