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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Second Success Factor

On September 16th Eric Verzuh presented a webinar on “The Five Project Success factors”. If you attended, you heard sage advice and goals to shoot for on your projects. You can get a copy of his “Project Success Factors Checklist” for a limited time by clicking here.  (Or go to: http://www.versatilecompany.com/Events+and+Articles/default.aspx)  Eric Verzuh is Versatile’s president and the bestselling author of The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management.

This blog entry deals with the second success factor – “A plan that shows the overall path and clear responsibilities and that can be used to measure progress during the project.”

MS Project is just the tool to enable that success factor. In the figure below I took about a minute (really!) to format a Project 2010 Gantt chart so that each element of this success factor is visible: the sequence or path is represented by the arrows between task bars. The Baseline schedule is in grey, the current schedule is in blue, and task responsibility is shown by the resource names to the right of each bar.

The Baseline is the best estimate of a schedule that we want to measure progress against. Notice task ID 2 is slipping. You know that because the Schedule bar starts later than the Baseline bar. The difference between the Baseline start and the Actual start is called Start Variance. Now you can deduce what Finish Variance means. Task ID 7 has a lot of Finish Variance. It will finish later than planned if course correction isn’t initiated.

(Click on this figure to enlarge)

Success Factor 2

See? Identifying planning and schedule issues is a lot easier when using MS Project. As you can see in this example, MS Project’s visual and dynamic charts give fast clues to the state of the project. So you have the opportunity to make schedule decisions faster. Give yourself the chance for success!

(And don’t forget to get the checklist.)