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SPARTA Trip: TASK(Master)

3005main In rescuing a failing project, eventually a new project plan needs to be constructed.  TASKS (the 'T' in SPARTA) need to be defined (or redefined).  In building a project plan for a project rescue, tasks will probably need more scrutiny than they were given the first time.  There is a lot of skeptism regarding the ability of the team to execute the project successfully.  Your recovery team's credibility is on the chopping block, as well as your reputation as project manager.

The project went into failure mode for a reason, and I'd be willing to bet that the reason had to do with lack of planning the first time around.  Therefore, it stands to reason that a solid project plan will help your project recovery flourish (rather than flounder).  Some general guidelines to consider for constructing tasks this time:

  1. Start each task with an action verb (examples:  test, build, write, meet, analyze, construct).  This ensures that there is action associated with each task.  Task names like "requirements document" tell the reader nothing.  What are you doing to the requirements document that requires time and resources that is relevant?
  2. Sequence tasks logically.  Agree upon dependencies.  Know the constraints (i.e., testing must complete before year end).  Identify lag and lead times.
  3. Estimate tasks sensibly.  No task should ever run longer than two weeks duration.  If it does, break it down to something more granular.  Similarly, on work effort, no task should be more than 40 hours for a single resource, 100 hours for multiple resources.  Otherwise, your tasks are being defined too broadly, and the last 5% of the task will take 95% of your time.
  4. Use the logic discussed in the previous post on roles to assign resources.
  5. Spend time with the resources to level the plan.  Make sure than no resources are unduly overworked or underutilized.  Review task estimates for feasibility.
  6. Baseline the plan.  Don't put all that time and effort into building a plan without putting a line in the sand.  A project plan baseline will also feed into the final recovery step:  Accountability.

The new project plan must inspire faith in the stakeholders that this will be the last time this project will need to be in recovery mode.  A lot of credibility is on the line here.  Carpe Factum!

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Comments

Lucia Mancuso

I love you 1st point - starting tasks with action words - I'm going to go through my task list now and make revisions.

Thanks for the tip

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