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Does Your Project Get To Go On Spring Break?

Spring_break_guysIt's spring break!  Yea!  Get out the swim wear!  The suntan lotion!  The beverage of choice!  The warm breezes!  The beach!

What?

You say you can't?

You have to stay put and work on your project?  Worse yet, you have to work harder because everybody else is gone.  Bummer, dude.

Holidays can be the kiss of death to a project schedule.  I was reading the Manic Monkey blog the other day, and had to chuckle about this line:

Unfortunately with a very busy Christmas holiday all group members are slightly behind on the completion of their gremlin. This has therefore put us behind. We are now ensuring all modeling, texturing and rigging is completed by 1st February.

Here's a little trick I've used while planning some projects where there will be a holiday or a series of days (like spring break) where people will probably be gone.  You can do this on any project management software (my preference is MS Project).  Find the weeks where a substantial number of the project staff probably will be gone and block those days off as "non-working time."  I don't do this all the time.  For example, when every second counts, and the executives have passed down a "no vacation" rule for the staff, then I wouldn't recommend trying this.  However, if the project will be going for several months, it's important to remember that people have lives.

Project_plan_working_timeHere are some common dates/events I will consider blocking off:

  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas and New Year's (last two weeks of the year)
  • Spring Break
  • Memorial Day Week
  • Independence Day Week
  • Labor Day Week

The benefits to the project can be phenomenal:

  • Allows the team to have a balanced life
  • Builds in contingency time without being obvious to anybody on the project (I don't tell people I'm doing this when I do - otherwise it can be perceived as an invitation to procrastinate)
  • Allows other team members/tasks to play catch up during these weeks when other project staff is gone
  • Takes reality into account.  People will be gone at certain times of the year.  Get over it.

Do you have other recommendations for introducting reality into your project planning?

Carpe Factum!

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For most small/medium projects a web based tool like http://www.statuswiz.com works better.

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