OVERVIEW"Plan the work, work the plan." This simple phrase can be your guide through many difficult times in a project management career. The Time Management Knowledge Area should be applied with the support of a project scheduling tool. Of course, it can be done with 3ÃÂ5 cards to gather information and then organized in a spreadsheet. However, the spreadsheet will only communicate the proposed plan. Once the project starts and the dynamics of a project ensue-dates slip, unplanned scope is added, resources are suddenly unavailable-managing from the spreadsheet will probably become quite frustrating. The plan will no longer be a tool to provide project tracking and oversight. At that point, you will have lost control of your project.
ACTIVITY DEFINITIONFor any project manager just coming on board a project, the critical first steps are to learn about the people involved-both stakeholders and the project team-and to understand the issues that currently exist and exactly what the project is expected to deliver.
These steps are forerunners to Activity Definition.
For the steps described in the PMI standard under the heading Activity Definition, you must have a clear understanding of the activities that are outlined in the WBS. This will become important as you identify the inter-dependencies among activities, as well as the type of resources that should be assigned to each of the activities. Start from the beginning, not the end, and resist the temptation to focus too heavily on dates. Although later it will be necessary to come back and look at how the "realistic" plan fits into the needs of the business, at this stage it is important to find out what your people believe are the necessary tasks required for project completion. This can also help to provide the ammunition that you need to fight for a date...