Time

The time factor manifests itself in a project in the form of deadlines for tasks and the amount of time that these tasks may take. Managing time involves ensuring that tasks are completed on time.

Time in project plans:

  • Determine which activities should take place in which phase.
  • Estimate how long each activity will take
  • Determine the order in which activities should be completed.
  • Allocate people and materials.
  • Allocate activities over time.
  • Determine the (most important) deadlines.

Time in progress monitoring:

  • Monitor progress.
  • Monitor deadlines.
  • Adjust schedules.

Time in project reporting:

  • Report on the actual timeline.
  • Analyse and explain why some tasks proceeded much more quickly or much more slowly than expected.

Time schedules are based on a work-breakdown structure (WBS). A WBS is a decomposition of the tasks that must be completed in order to achieve the project result. Developing a time schedule requires knowing the amount of time that is needed for each task, who will complete each task and when. One frequently used tool for planning time is the bar chart or Gantt chart (see (1) Material purchasing (2) Material testing (3) Compile testing report (4) Edit report (5) Information days Figure 5 A variety of software packages is available for making and maintaining bar charts (see Appendix 3).

Scematic display of a portion of a WBS

Figure 4: A (portion of a) WBS of a project

Figure 5: Gantt chart or bar chart, which is commonly used for time planning.

A rapidly growing organisation was continually taking on more projects. As the company continued to become busier its products were in great demand the personnel began to feel pressured to work in a frenzy to complete all of the work that needed to be done. The personnel wanted more people to be hired. Because of the cost, management was hesitant to do so, and they pressured the existing personnel to work harder. How much work could the team actually handle? This question apparently had no good answer, as the organisation had no time-registration system.

When a new project was started, an estimate was made of the number of hours that was thought necessary, but no one ever checked during or after the project to determine whether this number of hours was actually needed. Project leaders were nonetheless urged to keep their projects under control. The project leaders protested that, without time records, they had no oversight over the projects. After all, because they had no insight into the number of hours that were used to carry out the tasks of a project, and there was absolutely no chance of adjustment.

One project leader decided to register hours with his team. The registration showed that the project ultimately needed four times as many hours as had been originally estimated. After reprimanding the project leader for allowing the project to get so far out of hand, the management decided to introduce a time-registration system.

After several months, a number of bottlenecks became apparent. It was revealed that nearly all of the projects had been budgeted too narrowly. In practice, personnel who had been assigned to work on a project for one hundred hours often proved to need three times as many hours. This transparency was accompanied by new dilemmas. One the one hand, there were indeed too few personnel to carry out the projects well. Additional personnel were needed. The costs of sufficient personnel were considerable. On the other hand, the projects had apparently been sold far too cheaply (for too few hours) to customers. The management was afraid that they would not receive any more orders if they began to charge more hours in their estimates.