Today’s project management professionals are opting to avoid using one of, if not the, most powerful tools they have in their tool chest: Integrated Logic Network Schedule or sometimes referred to as Critical Path Method (CPM) or Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM). Whatever you call it the Network schedule is the heart of project management’s ability to create a realistic Performance Measurement Baseline (PMB) that can be used in planning, analyzing, forecasting and assessing “what if” scenarios.
The Network Schedule can enable an immediate and accurate evaluation of the impacts of path convergence caused by matrix driven resource constraints or the impact of resource “bait and switch”. And, the list goes on…………..
If the Network Schedule is so valuable why so less than 30% of the projects I have reviewed have one? Easy! It takes work to create one! It takes participation of team members to establish the precedent relationships and it takes an estimate of time for each work package in the network. Sadly, once the project network is established it will not remain static. It will change regularly depending on the outcome of variance analysis or the whim of a functional manager switching resources. The majority of project managers I have interviewed have opted for a simple bar chart scheduling approach. Big mistake!! Bar charts are great for communication of timing but they don’t tell the complete story of work package integration and if the bar chart is not a direct outcome of creating the Network Schedule its validity is immediately in question. The automated capability to quickly create and optimize an integrated network project schedule exists, so stop looking for excuses not to use it!!