Schedules in Project Management

A project schedule typically depicts the planned dates, durations, milestones, and resource availability and usage. While doing this the relationship with project activities is shown explicitly. 

Developing a project schedule is the second step of the planning performance domain. According to the PMBOK 7, a project schedule may be developed by using a schedule model. Schedule planning can use both predictive and adaptive development approaches. So according to the nature of a project different steps to build a schedule can be involved. The project schedule is used in planning, project work, and measurement performance domains. 

In the predictive approach, we use similar steps, inputs, tools, and techniques with the defined process in PMBOK 6. We keep the information derived from PMBOK 6 in our website for this reason. Because in most cases, especially in the predictive approach it is still useful. 

The predictive schedule development according to the PMBOK 6 starts with the decomposition of the scope into activities, continues with the sequencing, estimating the needed duration and resources for each activity, allocating resources on activities by taking the availability into consideration and combining this information to reach a final schedule.

In the adaptive planning approach, we need to use incremental development methods. In this method, a high-level release plan is provided in the first place. Therefore any change obtained from feedbacks of earlier iterations are welcome for the project team.

What Does a Project Schedule Include?

The project schedule is a time-based representation of the project. The schedule consists of 

  • Planned start date and end date for each activity. 
  • Milestone Charts
  • Bar Charts
  • Project Schedule Network Diagrams

The Schedule serves to better show the progress of the project in terms of time to the project team, key stakeholders, you as the project manager and senior management. The schedule will be prepared as a Gantt diagram with the most common method and can be shaped according to the nature of your project in different formats.

Develop Schedule Process in PMBOK 6

As the name suggests, the schedule development process is the process by which the project schedule is created and finalized by adding it to the schedule baseline. What we did when creating an activity list, sequencing activities, and revealing resource and duration estimates was actually always preparing for the process of creating a schedule and providing the necessary inputs. In this process, which is perhaps the most important process of schedule management, project activities are shown in a diagram in accordance with the previously determined time estimates, taking into account the priority relationship.

Develop schedule process is a part of the schedule management knowledge area and planning process group. A schedule is once created in the planning phase and revisited continuously throughout the project.

Outputs Created in Develop Schedule Process

  • Schedule baseline: Along with the project schedule this is one of the two most important outputs of the process. During the project's life, schedule baseline will be used to monitor and control the schedule by comparing it with the actual performance of the project and use these measurements to have an understanding about the schedule performance.
  • Project schedule: Already defined above.
  • Schedule data: It is the information complementing the schedule. Together with the schedule, its usage makes it easier to control the time aspect of the project.
  • Project calendars: A handy output that depicts the days and time periods on which project work happens.
  • Change requests: The noticed need for changes are documented with this output.

Inputs of Develop Schedule Process

  • Activity list and activity attributes: The final schedule will include the activities on time basis. So it is a natural input to the process.
  • Activity duration estimates: It is a part of activity attributes also. Again a logical input to the process as it shows the durations of activities which will be represented on the schedule. to estimate activity durations methods like, parametric estimating, three point estimating, bottom up estimating and analogous estimating are used.
  • Scope baseline: Scope baseline has WBS and WBS dictionary that has useful information about activities.
  • Schedule management plan: Simply tells us how to create the final schedule. 
  • Assumption log: All project assumptions and constraints that may affect the schedule must be analysed.
  • Basis of estimates: This is used to justify the estimates that we use for the schedule. It also provides traceability.
  • Lessons learned register: Former experiences about schedule creation would be helpful to do it right.
  • Milestone list: Milestones are essential parts of the schedule. So, it is quite normal to have it here.
  • Project schedule network diagrams: Depicts the logical relationships between activities, the order of them will be helpful while creating the schedule.
  • Project team assignments 
  • Resource requirements
  • Resource calendars
  • Risk register
  • Agreements
  • Enterprise environmental factors: Government or industry standards are an example of EEF.
  • Organizational process assets: Project calendars of the organization, policies about schedule development and related guides are OPA's recommended to use in this process.

Tools and Techniques used in Develop Schedule Process

  • Schedule network analysis: Rather than a single method of analysis, it is a set of techniques that usually involves tools like Critical Path Method Analysis, Critical Chain, etc. These methods are chosen according to their compatibility with the project.
  • Critical path method: I think everyone already knows what is the critical path method. It is about finding the longest path to complete a process. Any delay in the critical path would delay the project also.
  • Resource optimization: Includes techniques like resource leveling and resource smoothing
  • What-if scenario analysis: It is about experimentally changing certain aspects of the schedule to see its effects on the schedule to be able to plan it better.
  • Simulation: It is a statistical method used to find out the probabilities of a set of things to happen. Monte Carlo analysis is the most common simulation technique in project management.
  • Leads and lags: Respectively, they are acceleration in a successor activity and a delay in a successor activity in a network diagram.
  • Schedule compression: Crashing and fast tracking are most common schedule compression techniques.
  • Project management information system (PMIS): Include software and other information system to develop schedule.
  • Agile release planning: A summary timeline of the release schedule.
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