Whether we call it time boxing, setting deadlines or setting target dates, the practice of picking and announcing a date upon which some event will take place is common, useful and dangerous.

While we can call them all targets, there are subtle differences. Deadlines connote musts. The term is said to have originated during the U.S. Civil war at a prison camp. Anyone who crossed the deadline would be shot. In the newspaper business, the deadline is the point in time that copy must be delivered to get the paper printed and delivered on time. Missing a deadline has a serious impact.

Target dates are softer. The target is set, but, as in archery and target shooting, there is a reasonable expectation of hitting the target. Missing the target therefor does not result in "death". Coming close to the target is often considered a success.

In project planning, time boxing is a method for establishing a target date for delivering a clearly defined set of functions. In time boxing the scheduled target date drives the scope. In most other types of planning the scope drives the schedule.

Setting targets and time boxing have a softer, more flexible connotation than deadlines. Targets can be missed by a mile or an inch. Time boxes are set with a solid understanding of scope, resource availability and effort. If a time box target date is missed, remedies like de-scoping are readily available and the impact is not usually that great.

All scheduling results in target dates, that have been set with a focus on what has to be done, how much time and effort it takes to do it and who is available to do it. Scheduling is a complex synthesis of these factors totarget dates

The pros and cons of Expected Completion Dates

Like most practices, setting dates has its pros and cons.

This article has been written to illustrate methods that can be used to validate a Return on Investment (ROI), looking beyond skill sets and competencies.

Generally, organizations that engage in a formal Project Management Training Program will look to validate their investment by initially assessing a marked improvement in individual participant skill sets and competency advancement. This is, however, only an initial benchmark of effective project management training and the integration of raised personal attributes and cognizance.

The real test of the validity of a program lies in the participants’ ability to return to the project management environment and make a day-to-day difference in their actual project assignments. This can be measured, stratified and sold by utilizing two different mindsets/methods.

The first mindset/method, best used by an organization that is employing a definitive and mature methodology (defined as a methodology in operation and successfully in use for more than 2 years), would be to target the areas that comprise their key process indicators (KPIs). These areas would be determined by tracking actual project data over the methodology maturity life cycle, i.e., bolstering the skill and competencies that would
make the most positive difference in day-to-day implementation of the definitive methodology.

Quotes or sayings from well-known personalities have always been a great source of enlightenment for humans; these bring wisdom, insightfulness and above all motivates us towards our goals in life. Being a huge fanatic of such great proverbs, here I’ve collected the 5 best encouraging sayings about project management to help you become more productive at work. Stick them on your desk board or share them with your folks!

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“An effective project leader attracts people with great skills and knows how to hold them together.”
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