Could a Sophisticated Task and Time Management Tool Help Project Managers With Execution?
SkedPal might just pave the way for real world scheduling and execution of Task Assignments
Maybe you’re that Project Manager (PM) who just sent out a whole bunch of Resource Assignments for that Project Schedule you have just finished Baselining. Even though you’ve already obtained full formal approval from all of the Resource Managers for each of the resources assigned to your project, and even though you’re been heavily involved with these resources in completing the estimates associated with their assignments, you recognize that the step you’ve just taken — formally sending these assignments out — was somewhat like throwing a warehouse order over the wall to the Fulfillment Department: there is no way to ensure that each resource (also know as people!) can fit these assignments into their already over-scheduled days.
As a PM, how can you possibly assume that each person can effectively schedule their assigned project work?
What Is SkedPal, and, as a PM, Why Should I Care?
Enter SkedPal. A Tool that can help you manage all the tasks in your life, except it really is not a traditional Task or To Do List Manager like all the other dozens of Task Managers out there (tools like Todoist, OmniFocus, Microsoft To Do, Things, GoogleTasks, etc.). What SkedPal excels at is helping you prioritize and schedule your work around all the other appointments, meetings, and unplanned events in your life.
Let’s specifically look at the scenario I’ve mentioned above to see if SkedPal can help with scheduling the work included in an example Project Task Assignment. Imagine you are the resource getting a new Task Assignment, and you want to figure out how in the world to schedule it into your already busy life. Here is the example Task Assignment (see Figure 1). Let’s suppose that this gets routed to you through Zapier (see Figure 2) and ends up in your SkedPal Inbox (see Figure 3).
If I look at the details of this task, here are some of the core features that I get Out-of-the-Box with SkedPal (refer to Figure 4, below):
My assigned task has a duration of 20 hours (white duration field shown in Figure 4, above), I know the PM is forecasting that this work will be done by the end of the week (July 15th), and I know it is a High Priority (Yellow Priority field shown in Figure 4, above); but I have a lot already going on in the coming week, so I make a Plan to work on the task between July 13th and July 15th (Light blue date range shown in Figure 4, above) during my Weekday Working Hours (Purple “Time-Map” shown in Figure 4, above).
That’s all fine and good, but if I look at the Calendar (See Figure 5, below) that I have during the week when I must finish this task, you can see I already have a few things going on. I don’t know how best to schedule anything here because I have other tasks and meetings. Some of these tasks can be rescheduled, some cannot, but I know I must attend the meetings.
Here is where SkedPal’s genius comes in. According to SkedPal’s founder, Saied ArBabian, when I click on SkedPal’s Update Schedule button, SkedPal’s scheduling algorithm executes “2 to 4 million times” in a few seconds to figure out how best to optimize your schedule. This optimization considers relative task priority, required task timing (when you plan on working on the task), task dependency sequences, Time Maps (which allow you to specify when you can work on a task), a daily and weekly task type budget, and a number of other factors.
There is no way you and I can look at the different ways to optimize our schedules 2–4 million times every time a change is introduced. So this could add tremendous value for most of us Knowledge Workers.
Indeed, in the example we’ve been looking at, I’ve clicked on “Update Schedule,” and you can see what has happened here: my task is now fully scheduled around my other commitments and has blocked my calendar accordingly (see Figure 6, below).
Could SkedPal Help Further the Promise of Organization-Wide Project Management ?
What SkedPal does every day for individuals could really help entire organizations with organization-wide project management challenges. What does this mean? It means, if a PM — who is often cut off from the fine-grained details of the work of assigned resources — can assume that the resources that he is working with will use SkedPal, the PM can now rest assured that there is a real possibility that work will get done as originally scheduled, or that immediate pushback will occur if this is not feasible.
This kind of time management maturity could also pay off significantly in organizations of all types, but becomes particularly helpful in organizations where projects and other organizational initiatives are extremely dynamic.
Most importantly, the people to whom PMs assign work could use SkedPal to get their lives back to a manageable state.
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