A schedule is the conversion of a project action plan into an operating timetable A^j such, it serves as a fundamental basis for monitoring and controlling project activity, and. taken together with the plan and budget, is probably the major tool for tfj^. management of projects. In a project environment, the scheduling function is mo!|; important than it would be in an ongoing operation because projects lack the cont&f nuity of day-to-day operations and often present much more complex problems coordination. Indeed, project scheduling is so important that a detailed schedule is sometimes a customer-specified requirement. In later chapters we discuss the 1 that a properly designed, detailed schedule can also serve as a key input in estaj lishing the monitoring and control systems for the project.
Not all project activities need to be scheduled at the same level of detail. In fact, there may be several schedules: the master schedule, the development and testing schedule, the assembly schedule, and so on. These schedules are typically based on the previously determined action plan and/or work breakdown structure (WBS), and it is good practice to create a schedule for each major task level in the WBS which will cover the work packages. It is rarely necessary however, to list all work packages. One can focus mainly on those that need to be monitored for maintaining adequate control over the project. Such packages are usually difficult, expensive, or have a relatively short time frame for their accomplishment.
When making a schedule, it is important that the dates and time allotments for the work packages be in precise agreement with those set forth in the project master schedule. It is also important that the work units that aggregate into work packages be in agreement with the times in the master schedule. These times are control points for the PM. It is the project manager's responsibility to insist on and maintain this consistency, but the actual scheduling of the task and work packages is usually done by those responsible for their accomplishment—after the PM has established and checked appropriate due dates for all tasks. This procedure ensures that the final project schedule reflects the interdependencies among all the tasks and departments involved in the project, and maintains consistency among them.
The basic approach of all scheduling techniques is to form an actual or implied network of activity and event relationships that graphically portrays the sequential relations between the tasks in a project. Tasks that must precede or follow other tasks are then clearly identified, in time as well as function. Such a network is a powerful tool for planning and controlling a project and has the following benefits:
• It is a consistent framework for planning, scheduling, monitoring, and controlling the project.
• It illustrates the interdependence of all tasks, work packages, and work units.
• It denotes the times when specific individuals must be available for work on a given task.
• It aids in ensuring that the proper communications take place between departments and functions.
• It determines an expected project completion date.
• It identifies so-called critical activities which, if delayed, will delay the project completion time.
• It also identifies activities with slack that can be delayed for specified periods without penalty, or from which resources may be temporarily borrowed without harm.
• It determines the dates on which tasks may be started—or must be started if the project is to stay on schedule.
• It illustrates which tasks must be coordinated to avoid resource or timing conflicts.
. • It also illustrates which tasks may be run, or must be run, in parallel to achieve the predetermined project completion date.
It relieves some interpersonal conflict by clearly showing task dependencies. It may, depending on the network form used, allow an estimate of the probability of project completion by various dates, or the date corresponding to a particular a priori probability.
Was this article helpful?
What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.