Project Management : Project Schedule Planning

Back To Basics- Project Management: Project Schedule Planning (Part-III)

After project stakeholders have agreed on project scope, high level deliverable and ready with project charter, the next important stage is project schedule planning. A project manager will have to detail out task schedule, milestone, resources, Gantt chart, etc as part of project schedule planning.

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Project Schedule Planning

Project Schedule PlanningOnce project scope is determined and work breakdown structure (WBS) is created, the next step is to create delivery timeline. For each of the deliverable work item identified in the work breakdown structure (WBS), project planner needs to identify list of activities need to perform.

Activities/Tasks

Activities as mentioned above, become a basis for estimation, scheduling, execution, and monitoring and controlling of the project work. For each of these activities he/she needs to figure out

  • How long will it take to complete each activity (days, weeks)?
  • What kind of resource(s) required for its completion (skill set, experience, etc.)?
  • What are task inter-dependencies & constraints (hard/soft) that need to be established?

Based on the estimate of efforts required to carry out each activity, one can sum up to get duration required for each deliverable. Thus working backward, project delivery timeline can be tweaked further to provide better estimates.

Milestones

A milestone marks a significant event in the project. Generally, project sponsors would refer to list of milestones to trace project delivery in respect of timeline & cost overrun.

Gantt chart

The visual representation of project schedule planning can be viewed through a Gantt chart. Many portfolio managers & project sponsors find it easy to work with Gantt chart. Since referring the Gantt chart for a given project, project manager/ project planner & other stakeholder can optimize/ change the schedule further.

Generally, this is where project sponsors start pushing for aggressive project deadline which might have been indicated/ agreed earlier and sometimes it becomes a real problem. In such case, the reasonable way out is to consult the project sponsor team & provide the details of project schedule planning. If there are differences over project delivery timeline, highly detailed project schedule planning can help you out to make your point. Based on the discussion, you may agree to following options:

  1. Reschedule project delivery timeline [Time Implication]
  2. Deploy additional resources [Resource Implication]
  3. Change the scope of project [Scope Implication]
  4. Enforce additional/ lesser Quality checks [Quality Implication]

As project team can manage timely completion of project activities based on project schedule planning, it is quite imperative to perform detailed estimation work on project schedule. To estimate delivery timeline, generally, it involves performing following processes.

Five steps to create project schedule plan/ delivery plan

1

Define Tasks/ Activities
Identification of individual & specific tasks to be performed to create the project deliverable

2

Tasks/ Activities Sequencing
It is to take care of identification & establishing relationships among the project activities e.g. Product filling activity to start after package labeling activity.

3

Resources Requirement Estimation
This process carry out estimation of the type (skill set/ experience, etc.) and quantities of material, people, equipment, etc. required to perform any given activity.

4

Task Durations Estimation
The process of approximating the number of work periods needed to complete individual activities with estimated resources. One can arrive at these estimates based on either of Sometimes, itís a good idea to add tolerance for duration of activity if you are unsure of exact duration (e.g. 3 weeks +/- 2 days).

5

Schedule Development
This is a critical process wherein project planner analyses sequences of activities, for each activity what are the: durations required, resource required, and constraints arising due to scheduling. The outcome from this exercise is a project schedule. Once project schedule is agreed by important stakeholders, it becomes a baseline for the given project.

Table 1: 5 steps to create project delivery schedule

These five steps will help us for project schedule planning and it would become a baseline for a given project. The project schedule plan may change as project progress; this change can be attributed to change in scope, deliverable, quality and risk aspects of the project.

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You can jump to Project Planning | Project Scope | Project Delivery Schedule Planning | Project Resources Planning | Project Cost Planning | Project Quality Planning | Project Risk Planning | Project Communication Planning