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It is vital to get this right at the beginning of the project, regardless of if it’s creating project plans, schedules, work-breakdown structures or cost estimates. It is in the estimation of costs and time of the project that are some of the greatest risks to a project. This will provide everyone with a performance measurement baseline to work with throughout the project. This is what the project team will use to track overall progress and performance, monitor and control changes throughout the project lifecycle. Effective project planning & scheduling is a critical component of successful time management.

The processes for building a schedule usually refer to the first six processes of time management:

  1. Plan schedule management
  2. Define project activities
  3. Sequence activities
  4. Estimate resources
  5. Estimate durations
  6. Develop the critical path and project schedules

Critical path is a method for modelling projects where you input all necessary factors involved in your project and output the optimal timeline for completing it. The essential technique for using CPM is to include:

With this information, you can determine the critical path by identifying the longest stretch of dependent activities and measuring them from start to finish. Once you’ve identified which activities are on the longest, or critical path, you can more easily discern which have total float, or can be delayed without making the project longer.

The most common form of project schedule is a Gantt chart. Both a milestone schedule and a detailed project schedule can be created as a Gantt chart. If you create a detailed schedule with milestones as a Gantt Chart, make sure it can be summarized up to that level for a simpler view that can be easily shared with your team or stakeholders. This gives you the ability to present the same schedule in different formats depending on the level of detail required and the target audience.

When you have a robust plan created for the project you can then monitor and report the progress of the project against the plan on a regular basis. This will enable the project team to deliver positive project outcomes through dealing with challenges before they have a major detrimental effect on the project. It is important to regularly check the integrity of the programme throughout the project life cycle and to perform risk analysis of the plan to further identify the key project challenges.

What are the Benefits of Project Scheduling?

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