International Project Management Day




Planning and Scheduling: Project Schedule and Critical Path


Quick Summary
Screenshot This guideline outlines scheduling activities to perform on WBS tasks that have undergone a first pass at resource assignment, dependency identification, and estimation. The result is an integrated schedule in calendar time. Fifth in a series—see the Related Templates below for the others.


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What this is

This is the fifth of a series of templates for project plan and schedule development. It outlines scheduling activities to perform on WBS tasks that have undergone a first pass at resource assignment, dependency identification, and estimation. The result is an integrated schedule in calendar time, but an interim schedule, which will be further refined in the optimization and trade-offs step described in the next guideline in this series.


Why it's useful

Scheduling is the translation of tasks and their estimates and dependencies into a sequence laid out in calendar time. Doing an initial schedule based on the first pass WBS, resource assignments, etc. will typically show the team how big the time and resource issues are—and it thus yields a starting point for an iterative schedule optimization process, rather than an immediate completed plan.

The schedule—or the key dates resulting from the calendar schedule—is critical to senior management, representing the tangible delivery commitment for something that will benefit the company. They will review dates, ask questions, and manage to dates from the schedule. For this reason, it is absolutely critical that no team or project manager commit to any schedule without building that schedule on a solid foundation of team planning. And no senior manager who wants to be successful should be party to "quickie scheduling." It is not good for the customer, the company, or the project team. However, the first-pass schedule, followed by iterative adjustments, will provide fodder for highlighting issues to executives and involving them in the next step (optimization and trade-offs). It will just be important to ensure that interim schedules and dates are understood to be such! The schedule is not complete at the end of this step.


How to use it

Once you have taken a first pass at the work breakdown, assigning resources, identifying dependencies, and estimating work, perform the scheduling activities in this checklist. If you are not already using a software scheduling tool, enter the schedule information from the worksheet used in previous steps into the tool now.


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Related Templates
Planning and Scheduling: Task Identification and Work Breakdown
Guidelines for developing a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to identify all the activities required to complete a project, with examples. First in a series.

Planning and Scheduling: Assigning Resources
Guidelines on identifying resources needed for each item in a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), including a sample tracking worksheet. Second in a series.

Planning and Scheduling: Identifying Dependencies
How to identify and capture dependencies in a work breakdown structure (WBS). Third in a series

Planning and Scheduling: Estimating Work and Costs
Guidelines on estimating effort, duration, and costs for items in the work breakdown structure (WBS). Fourth in a series

Planning and Scheduling: Make Trade-offs and Optimize
Guidelines for making trade-offs and optimizing the first-pass base schedule, to address conflicts among the scope, time, and resources/costs. Sixth in a series.

Planning and Scheduling: Create Project Plan Document
Guidelines for creating a project plan document providing project essentials like objectives, justification, and how the objectives are to be achieved, and describing how the project will be managed. Seventh in a series.



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