The primary design purpose of QuickPlan is to help us to DO RIGHT thing efficiently - to help us maintaining project schedule very smoothly and efficiently, and to help us managing project rightly more than just providing functionalities in mass.
Planning tasks in short duration are probably cost inefficient for project management activities sometimes
For example, if a project schedule includes some tasks with the period of 9:00 – 10:00, 10:00 – 12: 00, etc.
- The team may need to change the schedule too frequently caused by the changes to the tasks with a short duration
– Suddenly some of your team members have to attend a newly scheduled meeting at 9:00
– Some project members take leave
– Some predecessor tasks have to be postponed
– Alternatively, something wrong (such as power off, a call coming)
- Re-scheduling management may take a much higher cost than expected (the management cost may be even higher than of cost of the task execution if there are many short duration of tasks in a complex project).
Project Schedule is to guide the team on how to work, which should reflect the reality, and to be updated when something changed. Typically for a project team, to re-schedule the project to reflect a task change, below actions we may need to follow :
– Meet with the project group to review the progress
– Assign to the suitable team member(s) to discuss and re-estimate
– Update project schedule, review and finalize it with project team
– Communicate with stakeholders (include your customer, bosses, related groups, etc.)
– Documentation and reporting
Different types of tasks require the use of different management app
We need to manage various types of tasks for a project. Not all the works are suitable to be tracked in the project schedule, and the project schedule tool is also NOT the only tool to manage all the project tasks.
In general, when we are talking about project "task", we may be dealing with a variety of concepts that are different.
- Scheduled tasks in project schedule document (the team depends on it to know what to do at the day- when to start, when to finish, what's next, whom to do, what's the planned cost, etc.)
- TODO tasks (or with another name like “action registration,” “team actions,” “customer action registration”, etc.)
- Risk mitigation actions
- Tasks managed using Kanban or Agile Board (like in a swim-lane list)
- Identified tasks in project goal and objective documents
- Identified tasks in meeting minutes
- Unmanaged tasks
The project schedule is to set the tasks to:
- Guide the team how to execute the tasks – when to start, when finish, who do it, how many efforts, etc.
- Reflect the actual status of the project implementation – project team should be active to review the situation and re-schedule the task to reflect the real status (if not be re-scheduled for the changes, how to guide the team?)
So the tasks in a project schedule
- Tasks should be scheduled well before being executed (letting the team know how to do)
- Tasks should be updated (re-scheduled) when executing if tasks cannot be performed to follow the existing schedule
- The progress of tasks should be tracked continuously
If we find we don't need to do the same for some tasks in the project schedule, probably the tasks should be managed by other tools like todo app - if the task is not to guide the team how to do, but just a reminder for us to complete something by a time, todo app is simple and good enough for it. The management cost of the project schedule is much higher than the cost of the todo tasks management
Comparing the TODO task and the task in a project schedule
- Usually, a team cares about when to finish the TODO task, who owns the task, and the current status - the team does not care about when to start, whom to execute (not the owner), how much the cost and what is the relationship with other tasks.
- The management cost of project scheduling work usually is much higher than the cost of managing TODO tasks
Indeed for some cases, it's useful to schedule tasks with the duration of an hour (or in minutes). However I’d like to suggest to check if there are other better options to manage the tasks rightly before we following project schedule process, as a heavy management process means high cost and long duration, we should balance our processes and tools.
- Are we sure we are talking about the task "duration", not the task "work". If for the task, we need just one hour of work, it's no need also to limit the duration of the task in one hour - we can plan a task to be done in one day, using one hour
- If the short duration activities are in a stable workflow, can they be defined in a PROCESS?
- If it’s suitable for using an agile board to manage the tasks
- If the TODO app is enough to manage the tasks
- Do we really need to manage the tasks in documents (for example the "weekly team review meeting" task)
Project Schedule is NOT the only tool to manage project tasks
Based on the project process and the real situation, various tools are used to manage project tasks
- Project Schedule
- Action REgistration
- Kanban, Agile Board, Whiteboard, etc.
- Tools and apps to manage identified meeting minutes, goal action, etc.
For short-term activities
- Define a suitable process for the work-flow of short and related activities
- Using tools like agile-board or KanBan for short duration cycle.
Not all the tasks should be and is able to be maintained in a project schedule. The project team needs to balance the use of the tools.
We have some suggestions
We don’t mean that task duration cannot be short, we just say that usually, organizing tasks in a too short period is not an ideal practice. QuickPlan is not the full-featured app to cover all the possibilities include the needs to manage tasks with hour duration – QuickPlan fine-tunes the best useful features and focuses on helping the users do the RIGHT thing.
- Plan the task in one day, and plan the effort (work) the hours you expect, leave the team member be flexible to manage the time in one day – better solution to balance schedule flexibility and management cost.
- Using the project schedule app for project scheduling
- Balance the management cost and the data accuracy - try to be accurate, but let the project member control the very details
- Scheduling is a high-cost activity as it is to guide how to do and to reflect the project reality (plan and track), we should not manage TODO tasks in a project schedule. For example, a call to a customer (if the “call action” has no tight relationship with other activities in project schedule) is usually a TODO task or an un-documented task based on its importance.