When Tim Mather and I struck upon Rocket Scheduling as a useful term, it wasn’t just a play on the phrase “it’s not rocket science” (or even better – “rocket surgery”). One fitting example is the process of developing project schedules from team planning sessions, where the balance between complexity and simplicity is required, but often not achieved. This article provides insight into the rocket scheduling that occurs, and proposes an improved process that Tim seeks when he asks “If only there were a tool to help achieve this laudable goal”
Project planning is a collaborative team effort – expertise, experience and knowledge from many participants is developed into a Project Plan, a strategy to achieve the desired outcomes. This may take the form of a team planning session, using whiteboards, large sheets of paper or on-screen technology to produce high level, summary schedules that all stakeholders can agree upon.
It’s from here that the rocket scheduling process begins. Planners and Schedulers are tasked with taking the collaborative effort away and manually adding activities and relationships into their scheduling software to produce the summary schedule. Fanciful lags and constraints are introduced to hold activities to the agreed dates. Often the results are nothing more than a pictorial representation of the planning session output, lacking the integrity of a true schedule to demonstrate critical path and effectively manage a project.
After this effort, the remaining interested participants may be asked to review and comment on the outputs, repeating the rocket scheduling, until they are happy (or bored).
Netpoint offers an improved solution that enables team planning to immediately develop a schedule, avoiding the pitfalls of the rocket scheduling process altogether. Using an electronic canvas that can be easily understood by a wide range of project participants, rather than the row after row of traditional CPM scheduling tools that is best left to scheduling experts.
Netpoint lets the team develop their activities and link these in real-time. Critical paths, resource profiles and even risk analysis are produced instantly during the team planning session, no further reviews are required and comments can be made immediately. The image below shows a sample of the finished product that can then be developed further with Netpoint, or even exported to other tools.