Holiday Travel Tips from a Project Scheduling Pro

November 16, 2020 | Khaled Reda

Have you been designated the family holiday travel planner? Need a little help from a pro? Start with this proven project scheduling approach used as a baseline for keeping AFG client projects focused and on-time.

Where do you start?

The project schedule is the ideal tool to achieve your goals, complete a project on time, within budget, and with the best affordable quality.

Starting can be the biggest challenge. In most common scenarios a project scheduler will not need to create a schedule from scratch. However, even existing schedules can require significant updates. Occasionally it can develop to a point where building a new schedule for an existing project is cheaper, easier, or more applicable than maintaining an existing schedule with significant scope changes.

To ease this challenge, let’s use a different approach than just explaining where your project scheduler needs to start. Using our holiday example, first we need to identify a few parameters for our scheduler to work with – Charter, Scope, and Resources.

Charter

Here are the main items we need to identify and clarify for our project schedule charter:

  • Objective: A Family visit over the holiday
  • Stakeholders: Family of 3, and Extended family you’ll be visiting
  • Start Date: The day before Thanksgiving
  • Finish Date (Or project Duration): Black Friday (or 3 calendar days)
  • Location: Family home
  • Budget: $1,000

Scope

Most projects have their scope of work, or statement of work (SOW) already identified in detail before the scheduler comes on board. However, for this example, we will address the process as schedulers who need to identify the project scope for our work. Here is the scope of work for our holiday trip, from a scheduler’s perspective:

  • Site Selection- Which holiday get together are you joining?
  • Transportation Methods
  • Departure Procedures
  • Holiday celebration
  • Repacking and the Journey Home

Resources

Now we have identified the Charter and the Scope, identifying the resources that might be needed and assigned for this project becomes an easier task. Resources should be defined according to the stakeholder’s abilities and funds, regardless of whether all resources will be used for that specific project or not. This will help in planning for other projects that will involve the same stakeholders afterwards, so it will be a growing library. For example, if you are currently planning for a Thanksgiving trip, you should consider what resources you might also use later for a trip over New Years.

For our holiday trip, resources might look like:

  • Labor (Human) Resources
    • You
    • Your partner
    • Adult family members
  • Material Resources
    • Food and Drinks
    • Masks and Hand Sanitizer
  • Non-Labor Resources
    • Cars
    • Cell Phones
    • Internet Service

Next Steps

The project scope of work does not necessarily contain the activity list of the schedule. An Activity List is a list of actions taken during the whole project lifecycle to reach its objective, with a reasonable list of details. No limitation or elimination should be done to any step due to its attributes when first putting the list together. However, it becomes a challenge to determine the level of detail your Activity List should go into in proportion to priority of the whole project.

The solution to this issue is that the activity list of a schedule should be created at this stage without any consideration to the time, sequence, quantity, or even cost of each single activity inside that list. These are called activity attributes and should be identified for the activities after they are created and as needed. Some activities may have no cost at all, but they still need to be created. Others might have no specific sequence, and can all be done on the fly, but those also need to be created in that list. That will make this step more efficient and faster to do. The objective here is just to represent the scope, and nothing but the scope.

A Preliminary Activity List for your holiday trip might look like this:

Activity List

  1. Communicate with team members (family) on preferences for your destination
  2. Collect all stakeholders (family) requirements and expectations for the visit
  3. Select a specific destination
  4. Determine the length of your trip
  5. Browse resorts, hotels, accommodations within budget and reasonable distance
  6. Consult with stakeholders about accommodations
  7. Book accommodations
  8. Take COVID tests to gauge safety levels
  9. Quarantine for designated time
  10. Pack luggage for traveling
  11. Travel to your destination
  12. Visit family
  13. Watch the Thanksgiving Day parade
  14. Assist in cooking
  15. Have Thanksgiving Dinner
  16. Assist in cleaning, upkeep
  17. Play football
  18. Visit attractions nearby
  19. Pack luggage for the return trip
  20. Return Home

 

While this is just a kick-starter guide for getting your travels set in the right direction, it clearly demonstrates the value of a properly structured and thought-through project schedule.

A project schedule is a road map that provides you with the guide during your project’s life cycle. Use it to plan, monitor, and control the time attributes of your actions inside that project, and then use it to illustrate how your efforts are connected to develop the optimal path to your objectives.

Safe travels, friends!

About the Authors

Khaled Reda, PMI-SP, is an expert construction scheduling manager who specializes in master scheduling, forensic engineering, and construction management. He has over 15 years of relevant experience providing senior level project controls, scheduling, and construction services. Khaled is also a registered Scheduling Professional with the Project Management Institute (PMI-SP).

About AFG Group, Inc.

AFG Group, Inc. is a woman-­owned firm focused on multi-­‐disciplined program, construction, and relocation management, with a national portfolio of work in healthcare, laboratories, courthouses, educational facilities, and government buildings. With 30 years of business acumen, AFG has earned a reputation for providing strong expertise, responsiveness, and project execution that helps owners navigate through complex design, procurement, construction, and activation processes. For additional information, visit: www.afgcm.com