What is schedule Activity in project management

What is schedule Activity in project management?

Last updated on 10th Oct 2020, Artciles, Blog

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Scheduling in project management is the listing of activities, deliverables, and milestones within a project. A schedule also usually includes the planned start and finish date, duration, and resources assigned to each activity.  Effective project scheduling is a critical component of successful time management.

In fact, when people discuss the processes for building a schedule, they are usually referring to the first six processes of time management:

  • Plan schedule management.
  • Define project activities.
  • Sequence activities.
  • Estimate resources. 
  • Estimate durations.
  • Develop the project schedule.
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How to do scheduling in project management :

There are three main types of schedules:

  • Master project schedule. A master schedule tends to be a simplified list of tasks with a timeline or project calendar.
  • Milestone schedule or summary schedule. This type of schedule tracks major milestones and key deliverables, but not every task required to complete the project.
  • A detailed project schedule. This is the most thorough project schedule, as it identifies and tracks every project activity. If you have a complex, large, or lengthy project, it’s important to have a detailed project schedule to help track everything.

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. When choosing a scheduling software, look for scheduling tools that allow you to create different views from the same schedule. 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.

Benefits of project scheduling in project management :

  • Assists with tracking, reporting on, and communicating progress.
  • Ensures everyone is on the same page as far as tasks, dependencies, and deadlines.
  • Helps highlight issues and concerns, such as a lack of resources.
  • Helps identify task relationships.
  • Can be used to monitor progress and identify issues early.

7 tips for creating a solid project schedule :

  • The time management processes identified earlier are the key steps to creating a project schedule. However, keep these seven tips in mind to make sure your schedule is realistic.Get input from stakeholders. Make sure you don’t create your schedule in isolation. It’s important to use your team and other stakeholders to identify tasks, resources, dependencies, and durations.
  • Reference past projects. Looking at previous projects with similar scope and requirements can help create realistic estimates and ensure you haven’t forgotten any tasks.
  • Include project milestones. Milestones are events or markers that stand for an important point in your project. They’re useful for creating a summary schedule, reporting to executives, and identifying problems early. Here are some milestone examples:
  • Project kickoff
  • Design approvals
  • Completion of requirements
  • Product implementation
  • Project closeout
  • Consider any non-work time. For example, make sure vacations and holidays are reflected in your schedule so that you’re not assuming people will be working when they’re not.
  • Define the critical path on your project. Identifying your project’s critical path allows you to prioritize and allocate resources to the most important tasks in the project.
  • Record scheduling assumptions. Write down the logic behind your scheduling predictions. For example, if you assume it will only take 10 hours to complete a task because you’re going to have a senior engineer. That way, if you end up with a junior engineer, you can understand and explain why it took twice as long as planned.

Schedule Inputs

You need several types of inputs to create a project schedule:

  • Personal and project calendars – Understanding working days, shifts, and resource availability is critical to completing a project schedule.
  • Description of project scope – From this, you can determine key start and end dates, major assumptions behind the plan, and key constraints and restrictions. You can also include stakeholder expectations, which will often determine project milestones.
  • Project risks – You need to understand these to make sure there’s enough extra time to deal with identified risks – and with unidentified risks (risks are identified with thorough Risk Analysis).
  • Lists of activities and resource requirements – Again, it’s important to determine if there are other constraints to consider when developing the schedule. Understanding the resource capabilities and experience you have available – as well as company holidays and staff vacations – will affect the schedule.
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A project manager should be aware of deadlines and resource availability issues that may make the schedule less flexible.

Scheduling Tools

Here are some tools and techniques for combining these inputs to develop the schedule:

  • Schedule Network Analysis – This is a graphic representation of the project’s activities, the time it takes to complete them, and the sequence in which they must be done. Project management software is typically used to create these analyses – Gantt charts  and PERT Charts are common formats.
  • Critical Path Analysis – This is the process of looking at all of the activities that must be completed, and calculating the “best line” – or critical path – to take so that you’ll complete the project in the minimum amount of time. The method calculates the earliest and latest possible start and finish times for project activities, and it estimates the dependencies among them to create a schedule of critical activities and dates. Learn more about Critical Path Analysis.
  • Schedule Compression – This tool helps shorten the total duration of a project by decreasing the time allotted for certain activities. It’s done so that you can meet time constraints, and still keep the original scope of the project. You can use two methods here:
    • Crashing – This is where you assign more resources to an activity, thus decreasing the time it takes to complete it. This is based on the assumption that the time you save will offset the added resource costs.
    • Fast-Tracking – This involves rearranging activities to allow more parallel work. This means that things you would normally do one after another are now done at the same time. However, do bear in mind that this approach increases the risk that you’ll miss things, or fail to address changes.

Use of Project Stages:

One of the biggest reasons that projects over-run is that the “final” polishing and error-correction takes very much longer than anticipated. In this way, projects can seem to be “80% complete” for 80% of the time! What’s worse, these projects can seem to be on schedule until, all of a sudden, they over-run radically.

A good way of avoiding this is to schedule projects in distinct stages, where final quality, finished components are delivered at the end of each stage. This way, quality problems can be identified early on, and rectified before they seriously threaten the project schedule.

Project Review

Once you have outlined the basic schedule, you need to review it to make sure that the timing for each activity is aligned with the necessary resources. Here are tools commonly used to do this:

  • “What if” scenario analysis – This method compares and measures the effects of different scenarios on a project. You use simulations to determine the effects of various adverse, or harmful, assumptions – such as resources not being available on time, or delays in other areas of the project. You can then measure and plan for the risks posed in these scenarios.
  • Resource leveling – Here, you rearrange the sequence of activities to address the possibility of unavailable resources, and to make sure that excessive demand is not put on resources at any point in time. If resources are available only in limited quantities, then you change the timing of activities so that the most critical activities have enough resources.
  • Critical chain method – This also addresses resource availability. You plan activities using their latest possible start and finish dates. This adds extra time between activities, which you can then use to manage work disruptions.
  • Risk multipliers – Risk is inevitable, so you need to prepare for its impact. Adding extra time to high-risk activities is one strategy. Another is to add a time multiplier to certain tasks or certain resources to offset overly optimistic time estimation.
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After the initial schedule has been reviewed, and adjustments made, it’s a good idea to have other members of the team review it as well. Include people who will be doing the work – their insights and assumptions are likely to be particularly accurate and relevant.

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