Risk Mapping to Primary Constraints: Mapping the Project Schedule

Time:  Schedule

The primary constraint that overly occupies the attention of most project managers (even though it is not the most important) is the time constraint or vector as we call them at MCLMG. Project managers have become almost fixated on the “project schedule,” or “integrated master schedule,” to point that little else matters or is given resource priority. In reality, the schedule does not drive the project; it is the production of the demanded quality deliverables (”fit-for-use”) that should drive the project, the schedule is simply the artifact illustrating the project’s progress towards these objectives.

The needed parameters and achieved determinations are:

Parameters: non-risk adjusted schedule, risk register / issue log, lessons-learned, historical archives, organizational risk tolerance score

Determinations: a risk-adjusted schedule with REV-labeled tasks

At MCLMG, we teach and mentor our clients to only produce the schedule as the final step in the planning process, not the first or middle as is done on many commercial and governmental projects. The schedule fixation becomes the reason for many project’s “going off the rails,” needing remedial intervention to bring it back on track.

The risks or issues that impact our project’s schedule need to be identified in order to understand their severity and requirement for mitigation or response.  The risk register and issues log should identify the data parameters which assist in the mapping of the risks and issues to the schedule tasks that they could impact.

First, identifying if a risk or issue is internal or external to the project will allow the project manager and the team understand if this is a risk or issue can be managed within the confines of the project (internal), or if it lies outside the management boundaries of the project (external.) Additional parameters on the risk potential’s risk expected value (REV) on the other primary constraints (scope, cost, and quality) must also be identified and defined.

Once a risk or issue is identified as impacting time (schedule) the next step is to complete a “Schedule Impact Analysis.”  This analysis of the risk or issue and how it impacts the schedule will further help determine the steps to mitigate the risk or to respond to the issue.  Additional information gathered:

  • Trigger events and dates
  • Earliest and latest dates of impact
  • Impact to critical path tasks
  • Historical impact and lessons-learned data
  • Schedule impact deviations
  • Schedule impact probabilities

It is not enough to just track risks and issues on a risk register or issues log.  To proactively manage your risk and issues, additional measures and processes as delineated above are needed to ensure the equilibrium of the primary constraints is maintained. This equilibrium or balance is necessary to produce the project’s “fit-for-use” deliverables (the definition of fundamental project quality). is critical for today’s dynamic and visible projects


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