Project Schedule Management: Step by Step Implementation Guide


Project Schedule Management is the manual process which includes the activities to be done as well as a sequence in which those activities will be done. It also includes the start and end date of each activity to keep the track of approaching deadline. In Project Schedule Management, many aspects have to be taken into consideration such as the time and resources required for each activity. Once the schedule is finalized and project starts, it is important to control the schedule to stay on track.

To do all of this, Project Schedule Management includes six major steps. Following are these steps explained in detail:

1. Plan Schedule Management

Plan Schedule Management is the first step when it comes to Project Schedule Management. Before moving towards identifying, sequencing and executing, it is important to plan it all. In order to plan schedule management, three factors are important to be kept in mind: purpose and objective of the project, scope of the project and determining the course of action.

The course of action includes breaking up these goals and objectives into small concrete tasks which are easily manageable. This process is called work breakdown structure (WBS).

Significance:

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It is significant to plan the project because same planning process cannot fit into every project due to uniqueness and difference of the objectives of many projects. Cost, communication variables, scope and risks of each project differ somehow, if not completely.

Activities and approaches:

In order to plan schedule management properly, following approaches must be practiced:

a) Data Analysis:

Once scope, objective and purpose are defined, analysis is performed in order to find the best approach through which project work can be defined and performed. Alternative analysis is used to do data analysis. It helps in evaluating different approaches and then choose the one that suits best to the nature and scope of your project.



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b) Meetings:

Meetings are an important tool to gather all the project members, listen to their ideas and practical knowledge. This helps in coming to a specific approach with mutual consultation and decision. It makes everyone prepared to follow the same approach.

Results:

The Plan Schedule Management process results in the following main component of the project:

Schedule Management Plan

Proper schedule management is finalized which acts as a baseline for all the upcoming processes and final execution of the project. It gives a clear path for development, execution and control of project schedule. It includes following major points:

  • Scheduling methodology and required tools are specified.
  • Time-box durations are included.
  • Units of measurement for each of the resources are defined.
  • Formats and frequency to make project progress reports are specified.
  • Rules for performance measurement.

Everything is done in accordance with schedule management plan to stay on track.

2. Define Activities

Activities are small tasks that have to be performed in order to get the project deliverables. These activities should be identified first through the process of Define Activities.

Significance:

This step is important to get a comprehensive list of all the activities as these activities are the whole basis of the project.

Activities and approaches:

The activities and approaches for defining the activities include:

a) Decomposition:

Decomposition is a technique that subdivides the project deliverables into small and manageable tasks, known as word packages. It gives us a hierarchical structure to properly structure and organize the tasks in priority order.

b) Rolling wave planning:

It is also known as the process of progressive elaboration in which deliverable that does not have enough information at present is left for now and are not subdivided.

c) Meetings:

Again, meetings with team members are important to identify which activities need to be performed.

Results:

As a result of this process, you will get:

a) Activity list:

This is a list of all the necessary yet sufficient activities.

b) Activity attribute:

Each activity has a specific attribute attached with it such as description, assumptions and constraints. This helps in arranging the activities in correct order.  

c) Milestone list:

Milestone list is based on the time at which certain amount of project work needs to be done.

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3. Sequence Activities

This process is done to arrange the defined activities in appropriate order keeping in view their dependencies upon each other. It helps in handling project constraints.

Activities and approaches:

The beneficial activities and approaches for this process are:

a) Dependency determination and integration:

This is done to describe the logical relationship between defined activities. The four major kinds of dependency are: finish to start, finish to finish, start to start, and start to finish.

b) Leads and lags

To effectively define logical relationships, leads and lags are used. A lead lets you do the successor activity before predecessor one and a lag means successor activity will start after a few days of the predecessor activity.

Results:

a) Project schedule network diagrams

Project schedule network diagrams are obtained which gives the decided sequence of the activities.

b) Activity list

This gives a list of sequence of the activities in the final order.

c) Milestone list

Milestone list gives the proper timings and deadlines for each activity that need to be met.

4.    Estimate Activity Durations

Activity duration is the total time taken to complete any activity. It is measured in hours, days or weeks according to the magnitude of activity and need for resources.

Activities and approaches:

The activities and approaches to estimate activity durations are:

a) Analogous estimating:

This is used to estimate the duration of project based on the time required for the same activity in any previous project.

b) Parametric estimating:

This technique is used when productivity rate of resources for performing the activity is known. Using the following formula, activity duration can be found:

Activity duration = units of work in the activity / Productivity rate of resources

c) Three-point estimating:

This technique is used to calculate the uncertainty in the duration estimate using most-likely scenario, pessimistic scenario and optimistic scenario.

d) Bottom-up estimating:

With this technique, a complex activity is further broken into smaller chunks to estimate the duration and then add these durations to get a final value.

Results:

The significant results of this process are:

a) Duration estimates:

In the end, you get quantitative estimate of the time duration for each activity and the project as a whole. Uncertainties can also be applied to further include/exclude the extra time that might be required.

b) Basis of estimates:

Basis of estimate is documented information regarding how the estimates were made, what constraints were there and how much were the uncertainties.

5. Develop Schedule

A realistic schedule is developed after all the above processes are done. This process is called Develop Schedule. The project schedule specifies all the activities between start and end date of the project. Unless you have project schedule, you have no project.

Duration estimates:

It takes into account the duration estimates to sandwich the tasks together.

Activities and approaches:

Following are the activities and approaches to develop a project schedule:

a) Schedule network analysis:

It is a wrapper technique which generates schedule model using many different approaches such as resource optimization and simulation models.

b) Critical path method:

This schedule network analysis is used to identify the flexibility in the schedule as well as the critical path in a project network schedule diagram. It determines exact duration of the project to calculate path duration.

c) Data analysis:

The whole data is analyzed using following scenario analysis:

  • What-if scenario analysis: Its main purpose is to calculate the impact of some specific scenario on the project schedule.
  • Simulation: It is used to calculate combined effect of all the risks and uncertainties on the project schedule.

Results:

The Develop Schedule process gives:

a) Schedule baseline:

This is a specific part of the project schedule which goes to project stakeholders for approval.

b) Project schedule:

Once schedule baseline is approved, project schedule is finalized. It has specific start and end dates for each scheduled activity. Project schedule is usually represented in graphical formats.

6. Control Schedule

Control Schedule Process is to monitor the status of the project, take actions for changing resources or schedules and manage that change.

Activities and approaches:

The Control Schedule process uses following activities and approaches:

a) Earned value analysis:

It can be used to calculate schedule variance and schedule performance index.

b) Iteration burndown chart:

It is used to make a graph to keep track of remaining work over left working days.

c) Performance reviews:

Performance reviews are used to compare performance data with schedule baseline to make sure things are on track.

d) Schedule compression:

It is used to shorten the project schedule if there is any urgency. However, the scope of project is not compromised.

Results:

The Control Schedule process results in:

a) Work performance information:

It gives adequate and efficient information about work performance to make sure that all the sequenced activities are meeting their deadlines. 

b) Schedule forecasts:

Schedule forecasts help in analyzing the future state and performance of the project. They are determined on the basis of past and current progress and information relating to any activity in the project.

c) Change requests:

Change requests can appear if any modification is needed in any process. As schedule is iterative, there might be a need for some changes over time. While the schedule is properly controlled, changes are done effectively.

Conclusion

So, with these 6 steps, you can implement project management schedule for your project in a non-hectic and efficient manner. It will benefit you greatly as your project schedule management will be done rightly due to the efficient planning and implementation of schedule management plan.

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