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The first draft of your schedule has the tasks in order and schedule to follow one after the other. But that compact schedule isn't realistic. Sometimes tasks have to occur at specific times or you need to account for delays. In addition, you might have to adjust the schedule for when your people are available. The first thing to look for when you're fine-tuning a schedule is constraints that affect when tasks have to occur. For instance, when you find a new location, the property manager might tell you that it won't be available until July 15th.
Second, there might be built-in delays between tasks that you have to take into account. For example, once you finalize the design for the build-out and submit the plans to your County Planning Department, it might take three weeks before those plans are approved. These delays are usually referred to as lag time because the start of one task has to lag a period of time after another task finishes. The third factor in fine-tuning a schedule is the availability of people to work on the project tasks.
This factor affects scheduling in a couple of ways. First, you have to take into account how many hours people work each day, and what days they work. For example, some people might work full-time while others work half-time. If you assign more than one person to a task, it will be finished in less time. For example, you estimate one person packing to take five days. If you assign two people to pack, you should estimate that it will take two-and-a-half days.
People usually aren't productive every hour of every workday because time can be chewed up with meetings, administrative tasks, or just goofing off. If you want to make your schedule a bit more realistic, you can change the duration of task to reflect the number of productive hours people work in a day. If people only get six hours of productive work in a day, a task you estimated at 24 hours will take 4 days, not 3. By paying attention to the details and constraints, you can make your project schedule more realistic, which will help your project come in on time.
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