Schedule As A Forcing Function
A schedule that you have a high degree of confidence in, understand the probabilities and linkages, and that the team has bought into are a great focusing and forcing function.
What is a forcing function? It is a behavior shaping constraint that prevents team members from losing sight of completion dates, deliverables, and helps to prevent common errors or mistakes. An example of a forcing function is the approvals of dimensioned shop drawings for casework or cabinetry to prevent problems related to fit or alignment.
A schedule tuned to act as a forcing function clearly defines commitments and hand-offs between team members and motivates changes in perspective or behavior to meet these constraints. It shows the cascade of milestones and identifies the critical path so that we understand how much time stands between us and turnover.
Is your schedule tuned to act as a forcing function? Look for the following:
- handoffs defined as acceptances, not merely declaring victory and moving on.
- "chunkable" milestones instead of one long progress bar and a "miracle happens here" milestone. Identify squeeze points such as close-in inspections that limit work-around options.
- Are schedule buffers called out? A schedule buffer is adding a few days to a task for no apparent reason than contingency. The next pass will look to replace schedule (or time) buffers with plan (or alternative location) buffers.
- Add add/cut periods after milestone completions as a way of dialing in scope to check the cost to complete against the budget.
- What questions need to be answered to raise the confidence in the schedule?
A schedule as forcing function flushes out oversights and problem spaces, and helps team members understand dependencies and tackle risks earlier in the project.
When they understand the dependencies and inter-relationships between what they are responsible for and the rest of the team, it builds momentum and aids in early detection of problem spaces.