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Time Is Money

Project Network Diagrams also ensure that you've addressed all of the work to be completed, and created a feasible timeline. In practically any project—from creating a Web site to cleaning out your garage —there's going to be unexpected events (like rats in the plenum).

New project managers often bloat the time alloted for each individual task to...frankly...cover their asses. The problem with this ploy, however, is Parkinson's Law. This law states, "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." In English, if you allot a week to install a service pack, it will amazingly take a week to install the damn thing.

So how do we account for all those glitches that eat into the project time? Management Reserve. Management Reserve is a percentage of the total predicted time to complete the tasks within the WBS. A network upgrade like the project I worked on would likely take 160 hours to complete. To account for any unforeseen problems, we'll add 10–15 percent of the total time allotted for the work at the end of the PND. So the 160 hours of actual work is now predicted to take 180 hours for the entire project. Keep in mind: This is all based on your research, experience, and the lunar phases.

As tasks take longer than expected, we apply the overrun in time to the Management Reserve. Of course, some tasks won't take nearly as much time as originally anticipated, so we can apply the extra time back to Management Reserve. Fascinating, huh?

At this point in my project, I completed the WBS and the PND, assigned tasks to team members, and kept the client in the loop regarding timing and anticipated hours. I also provided the client with a project acceptance agreement, which is like a contract, but without the attorneys. It's a checklist of the required deliverables of the project and a target completion date. At project completion, the client and I will revisit this agreement, and we'll go through each required deliverable to prove its existence and quality before the project is closed.

You'll be happy to hear that I did not see any more rats during this project—unless you want to count those Mac users in the design department.

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