In management, project schedules have been there all along and are vital to run any project or program successfully. If you aren’t experienced, you are likely to create a schedule that won’t yield success. The plan you create needs to be perfect to get a flawless project. To be able to come up with an effective project schedule, you must refer to the project charter. This is an important document that contains the project objectives, purpose, and responsibilities.
With a smart project schedule, you’ll be able to allocate resources efficiently and make progress tracking more convenient. In this article, we’ve discussed the steps of creating a smart project schedule:
1. Gathering Inputs.
Before you start planning or scheduling your project, refer to the project charter to be sure of its objectives, goals, resources and stakeholders’ expectations. You should review all the risks listed during the project initiation to help you include a valid contingency in your plan.
After that, you should find out those assigned to make deliveries. It’s paramount to also factor in the predetermined project tasks and phases together with their estimated durations.
Planners are also advised to confirm the availability of team members. Sometimes, they could be handling multiple projects or could be proceeding on leave within the project duration.
2. Plan Milestones.
With the information gathered above, create milestones for your project. Milestones make it easier to track the progress of any successful project. Completion of a milestone motivates the team members.
3. Work Breakdown Structure.
Here comes the third step of creating an effective project schedule – developing a work breakdown structure. All proposed work is broken down into manageable tasks with time frames. Each task is assigned to an individual to improve accountability.
4. Outline Project Tasks.
At this stage, you are supposed to develop outline schedules for various tasks while paying attention to possible task and milestone dependencies. Some common dependencies in projects include mandatory dependencies, resource-based planning dependencies, discretionary dependencies and external dependencies.
5. Developing the Critical Path.
This involves determining the fastest route to complete your project. Critical paths are crucial in the management of project execution. The start and end dates for different project tasks as well as dependencies are key considerations when developing valid critical paths. For durations, look at both the earliest and latest dates.
6. Estimating the Resources.
Compare the critical path and the work breakdown structure you’ve developed against the available resources.
7. Document Project Risks.
All along from the project initiation stage through the planning steps, you’ll probably note some risks such as task dependencies, conflicting resource allocation or conflict of interest among stakeholders. Document these risks together with any other factors that are likely to affect projected timelines. All these are necessary to help the planners to add a contingency to accommodate delays. You can look at records of similar projects to decide how much contingency to add to the timeline.
8. Build the Project Schedule.
This is the most important step of the entire process. You should use the information you’ve gathered and developed in the prior stages to plot your project schedule. In addition, you should assign specific tasks to your team members!
9. Review and Adjust with Team Members.
It is quite to review the schedule you created with your team. They will help you to identify errors and will also make proposals or suggestions for necessary adjustments. You should document the joint decisions you make about the schedule.
10. Periodic Review of the Schedule.
You will realize that ongoing projects may encounter delays or disruptions which in turn affects the schedule. Periodic reviews are necessary to ensure that the project schedule reflects reality. The changes that you effect should also be communicated to the team and the relevant stakeholders.
Most people find it challenging to create a solid project schedule. With the above steps, we believe that you can come up with one within a short duration. Again, we have an array of reliable project management software to further make your work easier.