I recently watched the demo of several web based project management tools. While listening to the web cast or watching the demo "video," I was shocked to listen to how the demonstrated built a project:
- Set up the tasks
- Define the start and planned end date
- Assign the resources to the tasks
- Identify some risks and some issues
- 4. Blah, blah, blah
Wait Stop Right There?
Define the start and end date? This is not a project management tool. It is a tool that manages a list of tasks. A list you could create in Excel.
Never Ever define the end date for work. Only define the dependencies and the duration of the work efforts.
By Never, Ever, I mean Never, Ever. This is an absolute forbidden process in any credible project management paradigm. Here's why.
When you define the finish date, you've established a "must finish on" or a "finish no later than," constraint. Now in some domains, FNLT or MFO constraints can be set for milestones or deliverables as DEADLINES. Once you set a MFO or FNLT, you've turned your schedule into a Power Point presentation. You might as well use Power Point as your schedule tool.
No analysis of the critical path. No assessment of schedule float. No impact assessment of work moving to the right or work moving to the left. No risk impact assessment. No nothing. A nice Power Point presentation.
The only constraints in a credible project schedule - for the work activities - is Must Start On (MSO) for the Authorization to Proceed and As Soon As Possible (ASAP) for all work activities. Every other constraint you add moves your schedule toward a Power Point presentation.
A nice picture, but completely worthless as a project management tool.