Project Management Scheduling

Project managers need to schedule their projects for a number of reasons. First and foremost, scheduling helps the project team members and the shareholders estimate the period the project is going to last. It also helps the project managers to have a base to determine whether the project is on time or not. The project schedule also help to dictate what work will be done when and by whom. Therefore, the role of a project schedule should never be underestimated in project. The following is how a project manager schedules a project.

1. Work breakdown structure (click here for more info)

The building block of a typical schedule begins with a work breakdown structure (WBS). This is often a hierarchical reflection of all the work in the project in terms of deliverable. This often sound so obvious but once you forget some of the activities that are supposed to be in the schedule and the schedule is produced, you will never remember to add them until when you realize no one has done them.

2. Understand the dependencies

Dependencies can be defined as the relationship between tasks which determine the order at which activities will be performed. Remember all the activities cannot be scheduled at the same time. Dependencies are more evident when you look at the relationship between the preceding tasks to the succeeding tasks. A gant chant is a graphical representation of schedule and it shows the relationship between different tasks. For instance if an activity is scheduled as task four, it has to complete before task five begins.

3. Create Some Milestone

A project milestone means that something significant or a certain significant phase has been completed. For instance, the start of a project builds. Establish milestones on your project schedule in the appropriate places and try to link them to the relevant tasks. You will need milestone to appear on your schedule regularly as they will help guide you if you are still on the right path to complete your project in time.

4. Calculate the timescale

Now you have already developed a list of linked tasks with milestones, now what you need is to add in any fixed dates often referred to as the time frames in which the task will be performed. For instance, when you look at most project management applications they are automatically set to start today even though you have some work that will not start until after a number of months. You can go through the dates and ensure that you have fixed them either manually or by adding any additional dates to suit your schedule. It is also at this stage that you get to plan how long each task is going to take. Remember the software is usually set by default to take whatever time even one or two days but you can always alter this to fit your planned duration.

5. Tasks allocation

Project managers need to be careful of this stage of project scheduling. Assigning work is more about psychology as it is about executing the project itself. If they fail to allocate who is doing what and at what time, there is a high chance that they often end up having the same person doing more than one task simultaneously. The result of this is that the efficiency of the work done by the individual working simultaneously is significantly disadvantaged. The other danger is the fact that it is human nature that when work is not allocated, most individuals will go to the work where they feel most comfortable rather than the one that is most important to be completed. Therefore, a good project manager plans and add in the details of what work is to be done and by who and mostly importantly when. He does this by going through the task list and allocates their project team members the appropriate tasks. They also counter-check to ensure that no one is overstretched during this period and similarly no one should be idle. In case an error had occurred and someone happens to be in such situation, the manager goes back and changes the order or the dates to fit the times that the resources are available. Remember, as a project manager, it is paramount that you also understand the basic human tendencies for an effective execution of your plans.

6. Project budget

Just like a resource plan, a project budget is a reflection of the project work itself. A

Work Breakdown structure is ideally the basis of any budget. Remember that all efforts used in the production of the deliverables of each task can only be defined in terms of cost. Labor, facilities, services, materials and overhead are all costs which are often expanded in production of the deliverables of the task. Therefore, the sum of the entire task in a Work Breakdown structure makes up the total budget of the project. However, you will firs need to develop a comprehensive budget which will show how funds are going to be utilized and expended in due time for the operations or the project itself.

7. Review the schedule regularly

It is next to impossible to have a perfect schedule on the first attempt. Therefore, it is imperative that the project manager to regularly review their schedule and make appropriate changes as time passes especially if there are any amendments to the project scope. In fact, you can have a formal review at least every month even though the plans might be changing more frequently than that. Finally, ensure that you make it known to the stakeholders and the members of the project team that the schedule is due to change anytime hence they should never expect that the information they gave on the first day will always be the definite version. However, you should always try to maintain the accuracy of the schedule as much as possible. Even though changes are likely to occur, they should never be an excuse for a shoddy job.

In conclusion, always remember that the project schedule is an essential piece of documentation for the manager and his entire team. It helps to set out what is to be done and in which order and by whom.