The advantages of project scheduling
Are you planning a big project and want to increase its chances of success? Find out why project scheduling can help, and five big advantages.
If you are planning a project there are some important considerations you need to get right. You need to have an end deadline to work towards, with clear milestones along the way. You need to clarify all stakeholders involved in the project and ensure they know what is happening and agree to the timeline.
You also need to understand the resources you need to complete the project, and know how you’ll acquire them, from where, and when they are needed.
And finally you also need to predict any risks that may hamper your success, and have some way of tracking and reporting on the project progress.
All of this, and more, is covered off in a project schedule. Let’s find out more about what project schedules are, the processes involved in creating one, and five key advantages they bring.
What is project scheduling?
So what exactly does the term ‘project scheduling’ mean? Project scheduling is where you create detailed schedules that list out any activities, deliverables and milestones for your project, and agree the start and finish dates, as well as any resources you will need.
A good project schedule will tell you everything you need to know about your project in one glance, making it easier for you to keep track of your project progress as it evolves and check you are on schedule for success.
What are the processes of project scheduling?
When you plan your schedule you will normally follow the initial six processes of time management. These are:
- Create your project plan
- Define your project activities
- Identify which tasks rely on others
- Sequence your activities
- Estimate time needed for tasks
- Estimate resources needed for tasks
What are the different types of project schedules?
There are three main types of project schedules you need to be aware of. These are:
- A master schedule: This is your summary document and needs to include project milestones, deliverables and work breakdown structure.
- A milestone schedule: This goes into more detail, outlining any goals and achievements you must reach, and by what date.
- A detailed schedule: This is for your team and lets them know exactly what they need to do, and by when.
Every project needs all three project schedules because, although, on the face of it the information in them is the same, they contain different levels of detail. It is also important that you ensure that all deliverables, milestones and dates match up across all your schedules. If not, this needs to be fixed before a project starts.
Five advantages of project scheduling
So why go to the effort of creating a project schedule? Here are five known benefits of having one.
1) A project schedule helps with tracking, reporting, and communicating progress
A project schedule brings clarity to a project as all parties are aware of what needs to happen and when. It also gives a structure to track, report and communicate progress.
All involved parties are literally on the same page as everyone has access to the same documents and information. They also know who to communicate with in the event of any issues, or to inform when they have completed their tasks.
2) A project schedule makes sure everyone is aware of tasks, dependencies and deadlines
With a project schedule properly prepared, all relevant parties are aware of their tasks, dependencies, and deadlines. So they know what they need to do and by when.
They are also clear about who needs to complete their tasks before they can start, and who requires them to finish to begin their tasks. And as this is all agreed and communicated up front, if there are any issues with the plan they can be flagged up and resolved at the outset.
3) A project schedule identifies any problems
When a project is scoped out methodically and thoroughly at the start, it is clear about what tasks and resources are needed, and what milestones need to be hit.
So if, as the project progresses, there are any issues, these can be identified early, and solutions found. Problems can include a lack of resources, the schedule falling behind, and an issue with dependency. (For example, one trade being ready to work, but a task they depend on isn’t yet completed.)
When issues are spotted early, solutions can be found and schedules and deliverables adjusted, if needed. This will also prevent bigger problems down the road through tasks not lining up.
4) A project schedule clarifies task relationships
Speaking of dependency, a key role of a project schedule is to identify how tasks relate to each other. For example, on a construction site, the electricians and plumbers need to finish before a dry liner puts up the walls, or floors are laid. And decorators can’t start their work until the dry liners have finished.
This information will ensure that you plan your project realistically from the outset, ensuring each trade has the time and resources they need to complete their work. And that they are aware of who goes before them, and who is coming after them.
5) A project schedule checks the project progress and spots issues early
A project schedule does two key tasks: it gives you granular detail on everything that needs to be done for the project to be a success; and it gives you a bird’s-eye view of the project.
With an overview of everything that needs to happen, and when, you can easily follow the progress of the project and spot any issues, or potential problems early. Which in turn can give you a head start in coming up with a solution, or altering the schedule to stave off bigger issues further down the road.
It also enables you to manage expectations. If they are are any issues, you will understand why they have occurred and any impact they may have on the project. So you can inform any relevant parties early, and get their agreement or suggestions for any changes.