A project is scheduled to FAIL from start. This is a very strong statement albeit true. I have noticed this phenomenon many times during my experience. Let me explain.
Project Managers rarely understand good scheduling concepts/techniques. Even if they understand, good concepts/techniques are rarely used while developing project schedule.
What are good scheduling concepts/techniques?
These include various estimating techniques like PERT, parametric estimation or using of historical data. In addition they include having provision for contingency reserves for appropriate tasks/paths, using Critical Path Method.
This is not an exhaustive list and there are many other concept/techniques that should be used. Of course all concepts/techniques are not useful for all the projects. However application of some of these concepts/techniques could enhance the project success.
However, the theme of this blog post is slightly different. Knowledge (or lack of it) and subsequent application of good scheduling concepts/techniques is only one part of the problem. However, a more acute problem is Optimism. I want to highlight the importance of Optimism & human behavior while developing and tracking the schedule.
In recent past I wrote a few articles regarding Critical Path and related topics like PERT & Standard Deviation. Reader can refer to these articles to gain more knowledge on these topics. A basic understanding of these topics is somewhat essential for reading further.
When a project starts Project Managers and other stakeholders are overtly optimistic. If a PM is not as optimistic, she/he is forced to become optimistic by customer or sponsor or other stakeholders. Notably a few of the following things happen: