The Project Notebook

When Projects Collide

Thursday was an interesting day, to say the least. In the span of about 12-14 hours I:

  • lost the stone out of my old class ring (just had it fixed!)
  • had a longer than ordinary commute home due to a massive backup on the freeway
  • had someone impatient come up behind me and honk to pass — this person did it to all other cars in his way
  • while walking toward uptown, saw fire engines heading downtown
  • a few blocks later, saw billowing smoke uptown — some trash outside a home caught fire
  • called 911 and got a busy signal — fortunately several other people on the street with cell phones did get through
  • and last but not least, about 3 blocks later saw a pickup truck turn across oncoming traffic — breaks squealed, but fortunately no one was hit

Does this sound like some of your projects? Do tasks come altogether at once and cause delays? Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but the default constraint for new tasks added to MS Project is “Start as soon as possible”. Of course you could put that task off for a while — it may have plenty of slack time. But errors in planning, unforseen events, and other issues create scheduling risk. You can wait, but if something else goes wrong, you might not be so lucky as the pickup truck driver who made it across two lanes of oncoming traffic on a busy street.

Of course you will have to use your judgment. Perhaps your project isn’t “mission critical” and can withstand some delay. On the other hand, sometimes these things build up past all tolerance and can contribute to a failure.

My lesson learned is to be like MS Project — start as soon as possible. Be pro-active and not a pro-crastinator and avoid collisions in project timelines.

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© 2010-2012 Ray W. Frohnhoefer, MBA, PMP, CCP