PMI/ESA project time management function

Acres Consulting Services, Inc.

Editor's Note

Time management is defined as the third major function of project management. This is one of the traditional concerns of the project manager — an area in which much research has been conducted and much material written, and is perhaps the founding concern of modern project management. Mr. David MacDonald was Chairman of the Time Management Task Group, and has prepared a rather detailed set of topics to bound the project manager's concerns in managing the time element of the project.

Task Group Participants:

D.A. Norman, Ontario Hydro

R.S. Hall, Stelco, Inc.

W.T. McBride, Associated Kellogg

H. McG. Wallace, Ebastec Lavalin

R.L. Spence, Myers Spence & Assoc.

M.H. Parry, Chairman ESA Project

Introduction and Background

As established by the Southern Ontario Chapter of PMI and endorsed by the Board of the Institute, the PMI/Ethics Standards Accreditation Project was initiated by selecting subtask groups who have studied the various functions associated with Project Management.

Early in the project it became obvious that before proceeding into the development of standards it would be necessary to identify the content and character of Project Management and its functions.

Every project has as its objectives the attainment of its SCOPE to a required level of QUALITY within required TIME and COST targets. HUMAN RESOURCES and COMMUNICATIONS are major management tools utilized to attain those objectives. Therefore successful project management can be divided into and defined by six functions:

a) Human Resources Management

b) Cost Management

c) Time Management

d) Communications Management

e) Scope Management

f) Quality Management

The management of cost, time, scope and quality are, in addition to being functions, also objectives to be attained within a project. On the other hand, the human resources and communications associated with executing a project are a means of obtaining the objectives. Thus, management of human resources and communications are solely functions required to manage a project, whereas cost, time, scope and quality have a duality of character in that they are both functions and objectives.

The importance of managing time, that is the Time Management Function, is readily recognized by those who think “time is money” and by the admonition in many contracts that “time is of the essence”. It is almost axiomatic that any project that is not maintained on schedule will result in additional costs. Equally, particularly in these days where funding has such a high time value, when a project time span can be shortened, almost inevitably the total costs are reduced.

It is generally accepted that for most projects, if the project is completed to an acceptable level of quality within an acceptable cost and within an acceptable time, almost all other sins can be forgiven. Thus, the importance of controlling the time aspect of a project is one of the paramount functions of the project management commitment.

Time Management Function (TMF)

Attempting to define the Time Management Function became an extremely difficult task without using, as a basic stepping stone of definition, the development of a consensus as to the content and the character of Time Management.

The Time Management Function subtask team agonized at length over the approach to defining Time Management content. One of the most difficult traps to avoid during these discussions was that of identifying the functions by describing the process to attain the function. However, it became apparent that to effectively and simply identify TMF, the processes and methodology must be totally avoided. Any attempt to use process or methodology as a means of identifying the function was bound to fail because there are so many different methodologies and processes used by expert practitioners to successfully attain the goals of time management. It would, therefore, be almost impossible to develop a consensus in which processes or methods establish the identification and definition of TMF.

Even the identification of content as a means of defining TMF turned out to be a larger-than-expected assignment, in that a good deal of discussion indicated differences of opinion as to how and where the various elements of content should be assigned. However, it became the subtask group's consensus that the Time Management Function could be broken down into essentially four separate sub-functions. These four sub-functions have been defined as to their content in such a way that they can be executed as stand-alone sub-functions, or as the end sub-function in a sequence. The four sub-functions are:

A) Planning

B) Scheduling

C) Monitoring

D) Control

Just as Project Management is not considered complete unless all of its functions are included, the Time Management Function is not complete unless all four sub-functions have been included.

Each of the Time Management sub-functions can be further divided into its components. A baseline concept has been developed, as indicated on Chart C, depicting the sub-function breakdown of TMF and the subsequent component breakdown of each sub-function. This chart, together with the Time Management Glossary of Terms, sets forth the sub-function and content outline.

A — Planning

Planning consists of identification of the intention of the Project Management Group with respect to the steps they intend to follow toward the execution of the project. In other words, it includes depicting what the Project Management group intend to do, how it will be done, and what will be used to do it.

B — Scheduling

The content of scheduling is, in essence, the recognition of realistic time and resource restraints which will, in some way, influence the execution of the plan. To paraphrase this, it could be said that a plan represents how one intends to execute a project without regard to when the project will be executed. Whereas the schedule applies the recognition of time and resource restraints to the plan.

C — Monitoring

Monitoring can only exist when the plan and schedule are in motion, and consists essentially of measurement of what actually happens against what was expected to happen. It has been considered, however, that monitoring is not complete unless it also includes some recognition of the effect on future plans, of what has happened in the past. Thus, monitoring must contain analysis of past events, recognition of trends and their impacts on future plans, and some means of conveying the conclusions to other members of the project team. Project Management is a team effort, and to operate effectively the team must have efficient communications. Therefore, it is concluded that the monitoring function must also include communication of its findings.

D — Control

Control has been established as being one of the sub-functions of the TMF just as it is a sub-function of every other management function. Without control, management does not exist. Control contains, as its components, the recognition of what has been happening, what the results, or effect, will be and, if negative, the implementation of steps to prevent undesirable impacts and, if positive, the implementation of steps to ensure its continuation. Control, therefore, must contain some overt action to ensure that the objectives of the project are met.

Each of the above four sub-functions must contain something of its predecessor, but need not necessarily contain any component of its successor.

• Planning can exist without scheduling, monitoring and control.

• Scheduling can exist without monitoring or control, but not without planning.

• Monitoring can exist without control, but not without planning and scheduling.

• Control must be preceded by planning, scheduling and monitoring.

While there may be those that say management can consist solely of control and that planning is unnecessary, the counter-argument is that planning is intuitive in managers and therefore always exists even if not formally depicted.

There are also those who may say projects can be managed without actually controlling them. This is more a matter of semantics than content in that if control does not exist management soon becomes mismanagement.


Within Project Management, the Time Management Function is not mutually exclusive from Human Resource, Cost, Communication, Scope and Quality Management, but is a function that can be identified within its own context and can be executed as a virtually stand-alone function with a minimum of interfaces between the other five functions.

While the Time Management Function has, for purposes of the baseline concept, been identified as having four sub-functions, it is acknowledged that it could be broken down into more than four. However, it is unlikely that less than four would be appropriate. The four TMF functions can be further subdivided in more detailed levels of components.

One of the difficulties in attempting to establish the content of the Time Management Function was inherent in the use of the terms used in our profession. The subtask group found it extremely difficult to define the Time Management Function in terms of common understanding. This led to a great deal of effort to first establish a Glossary of Terms to avoid the conflict of understanding that results from the many buzzwords and terms in current use today which have different meanings in their application. The establishment of the Glossary assisted in clearing up misunderstandings in the development of a definition of the TMF content and should also provide a means to further clarify terminology.

The development of the baseline concept results in a very simple way of depicting by use of elementary graphics the content of the function. The baseline or concept chart, as developed to its present level, is the basis upon which ever-increasing levels of detail can be further defined as required, or as preferred in a particular application. Further, these baseline concepts are vehicles for further discussion, embellishment or amplification and are, in effect, the road map to fully define the Time Management Function.

The concepts, as established to this point in time, can be used to initiate the development of higher level standards. That is, using the concept definitions which already exist, one could attempt to develop standards in general terms for the function level as well as the sub-function level.

It is the subtask group's recommendation that the PMI/ESA project be extended and that the following be carried on:

1. Further development of the Glossary of Terms.

2. Further expansion of the more detailed levels of content.

3. Solicitation of other discussions and conceptual development to be input to the baseline.

4. Establish a planned approach for the further development of Time Management Function standards.


Time Management is the application of the management subfunctions of planning, scheduling, monitoring and control to achieve the time objectives of a project.



— Identification of activities or tasks to be carried out to meet specified objectives.

— Establishment of logical sequences of activities or tasks.

— Identification of resource types and quantities required to carry out each activity or task.

Project Objectives — Time parameters, specified constraints/restraints, targets, milestones and control considerations, and general project sequencing. Project scope expressed in terms of time and resources.

Time management scope — Detailed scope of responsibility and the work tasks to be considered in the planning and subsequent cycles of the time management function.

Constraints — Applicable restrictions which will affect the plan.

General sequencing — An overview of the order of doing things.

Milestones for control — Interim objectives -points of arrival in terms of time for purposes of progress measurement.

Policies — Directives pertaining to the approach, techniques, authorities and responsibilities for carrying out the time management function.

Methods and procedures — Time management techniques to be used such as — network, bar-chart, other manual, computerized computations; data collection; analysis; management reports and methods; user reports and methods; procedures and mechanics of carrying out above.

Authority and responsibility — responsibility for action and decisions — Authoritative parties and vested authority.

Level of detail — A policy of expression of content of plans, schedules and reports in accordance with the scale of the breakdown of information.

Breakdown and Logic — Identification of activities or tasks in detail and the relationship of one to another according to a defined procedure.

Project segments — Project subdivisions expressed as manageable components.

Task Types — Characterization of tasks - ie -resource requirement, responsibility, discipline, jurisdiction, function, etc.

Restraint types — Limitations which influence logic - ie - physical, policy, resource.

Interfaces — Points of interaction or commonality between the project and its associated components and outside influences.

Analysis — Review in relation to objectives, scope, parameters, criteria etc.

Time periods — Comparing calculated time versus specified time in relation to constraints and time span objectives.

Workloads — Review of planned workloads versus acceptable limits on resources and availability of resources over time spans.

Alternatives — Logic sequencing, durations and resource application.

Feasibility — Assessment of capability of being carried out, possibility, probability and suitability.


SCHEDULING — The application of calendar time to a plan.

Real time — Application of external time constraints which might effect the calendar time position of execution of each activity in the plan.

Input milestones — Imposed target dates or target events that are to be accomplished which control the plan with respect to time.

Input restraints — Imposed external restraints, such as dates reflecting input from others and target dates reflecting output required by others, and such items as float allocation and constraints.

Input priorities — Imposed priorities or sequence desired with respect to the scheduling of activities within previously imposed constraints.

Logic and Data Refinements — Rework or redefinition of logic or data that may have previously been developed in the planning sub-function as required to properly input milestones, restraints and priorities.

Calculations — Mathematical computations to establish the scheduled date applicable to the execution of activities.

Real Resources — Application of real resources and their limitations to the plan as they may effect the scheduling of the plan.

Input limits — Imposition of limitations under which the plan will be executed, e.g. a limited number of carpenters may be available to perform a carpentry function, although there may be many activities requiring many mandays of carpentry, the real limit imposed would restrict and balance the scheduling of carpentry activities.

Input priorities — Establishment of sequence of priority or preference on all activities which will be influenced by resource limitations or balancing.

Data Refinement — Modification of planning assumptions which conflict with real resource restrictions.

Calculations — Schedule calculations in terms of resource applications and limits which affect time.

Analysis — Assessment of schedule with relation to the effect of real time and real resources on the required objectives.

Verification — Assurance that the resulting schedule matches the overall required objectives.

Alternatives — Investigation of alternative methods of meeting objectives when schedule does not meet objectives or for purposes of improving project.

Interpretation — Reduction of information to appropriate and understandable terms and explanations.

Recommendations — Considered conclusions which suggest decisions.

Displays — Verbal, written tabulated, graphical means of transmitting findings, results and conclusions.

Lists — tabulations of information organized in meaningful fashion.

Graphs — Pictorial representation of relative variables.

Distribution — Dissemination of information.

Discussion — Dialogue explaining implications and impacts on objectives.

Assistance — Conveyance of understanding, comprehension and use of schedule.

Documentation — Back-up information, user information and references.


MONITORING — Tracking progress and trends, and comparing to the scheduled progress datums.

Data Collection — Collect and record facts, changes, forecasts.

Calculation — Mathematical determination of progress against datum (approved schedule).

Time — Calculation of impact on time.

Resource — Calculation of impact on resources.

Performance — Calculation of achievement.

Progress and Performance Analysis — Evaluation of the calculated progress and impacts.

Variance identification — Identification and quantification of differences pertaining to time/resources/performance.

Impact/variance interpretation — Clarification of significance of variance with respect to overall objectives.

Verification — confirmation of data, application of judgement, comparison with other sources and previous monitor results.

Reporting — Presentation of results and analysis.

Discussions — Elaboration and description of facts, findings and alternatives.

Recommendations — Preferences with respect to solutions with suggested actions.

Documentation — of all of the above, making available for distribution and retreival, displays, back-up information and records.


CONTROL — Ensure accomplishment of project objectives.

Evaluate — Understand and assess results of monitor.

Receive information — Accept and acknowledge reports.

Comprehend Situation — Review reports, understand status and recommendations.

Assess information — Consider report with respect to other information and parameters.

Recognize alternatives — Acknowledge viable alternatives and ensure alternatives to be reviewed have complete documentation.

Decide — Review action plans and make judgement as to appropriate plan of action.

Rank alternatives — Arrange, classify, grade various alternatives.

— determine advantages, disadvantages, and ramifications of each.

Select — from evaluations of alternatives, choose a plan of action.

Test — Examine qualities and suitability of selected plan of action.

— examine grounds for acceptance or rejection.

Direct — Authorize and implement selected plan of action.

Instruct — Provide pertinent information as to how, when and what required.

— Provide appropriate authority, responsibility and accountability to implement plan of action.

Follow-up — Monitor progress of action and determine impact.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.



Related Content

  • PM Network

    The Science of Uncertainty member content locked

    By Thomas, Jen Project estimates can sometimes take on a life of their own. The budget for the new international arrivals facility being built at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, Washington, USA…

  • PM Network

    Celebrating Smaller Delays member content locked

    Schedule overruns affected nearly 30 percent of Indian infrastructure projects monitored by the government in 2014. By 2018, that had dropped to under 20 percent, even as the number of initiatives…

  • PM Network

    Permit Power member content locked

    Permits can stall or accelerate a construction megaproject. A permit issue is even affecting a century-old project—the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. The project launched in 1882, though less…

  • PM Network

    Sequencing Made Simpler registered user content locked

    By Garza, Amelia Talk about a lessons learned database. U.S. construction and engineering giant Bechtel has been in business for 120 years, with some 25,000 construction projects under its belt—many of them…

  • PM Network

    Snap Precision registered user content locked

    By Fewell, Jesse If you've worked on agile projects, you've likely heard an agile champion make bizarre statements about estimating a budget and schedule. When you press further for estimates, you might get an even…


Publishing or acceptance of an advertisement is neither a guarantee nor endorsement of the advertiser's product or service. View advertising policy.