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What is a Project Schedule?
A project consists of two main components: the project work that needs to be performed and the schedule to perform that work.
The overall project work is broken down into smaller, manageable components in the WBS. These components are called work packages. A project schedule contains not only the activities to be performed, but also the order or sequence in which the activities will be performed and a start and a finish date. The sequencing of activities is constrained by the dependencies among the various activities.
A realistic project schedule can be created from the bottom up by identifying the activities, estimating the resources for the activities, and determining the time that each activity will take with the given resources available. The resources required to complete the activities include human resources. Before, during, and after schedule development, you will need to communicate effectively.
The Project Schedule
Planning the project schedule is all about time management. To complete a project, you need to perform some activities to produce the project deliverables. To make that happen, you need to assign resources to the activities and schedule them. But before all this can happen, you need to identify the activities. Although all this sounds like common sense, it makes sense to define the following terms so we are all on the same page.
• Activity - A component of project work.
• Activity duration - The time measured in calendar units between the start and finish of a schedule activity. (Usually Man Hours or Man Days)
• Schedule activity - A scheduled component of work performed during the lifecycle of a project.
• Logical relationship - A dependency between two project schedule activities or between a schedule activity and a schedule milestone.
• Schedule milestone - A milestone is a significant point in the life of a project, and a schedule milestone is a milestone on the project schedule. A milestone refers to the completion of an activity, marking possibly the completion of a set of activities, and therefore has zero duration. The completion of a major deliverable is an example of a milestone.
Project time management includes the processes required to complete the project in a timely manner.
Let us take a look at a diagram that is going to explain how project time management is supposed to happen.
The purposes of these processes are:
• Define Activities - Identifies the specific schedule activities that must be performed to produce the project deliverables.
• Sequence Activities - Identifies the dependencies among the schedule activities and orders the activities accordingly.
• Estimate Activity Resources - Estimates the types and amounts of resources that will be required to perform each schedule activity. Examples of resources are materials, equipment, supplies, and people.
• Estimate Activity Duration - Estimates the time in work periods individually for each schedule activity required for the activity’s completion. A work period is a measurement of time when the work is in progress; it is measured in hours, days, or months, depending upon the size of the activity. This estimate is performed for given resources.
• Develop Schedule - Develops the project schedule by analyzing schedule activity sequences, schedule activity durations, resource requirements, and schedule constraints.
• Control Schedule - Monitors the status of the project progress and controls the changes to the schedule baseline.
The underlying philosophy of project management for schedule development is to first develop the schedule based on the work required to complete the project tasks and then see how you can make it conform to other constraints, calendar requirements, and strategic goals of the organization. You, the project manager, have to build the schedule through cold, hard mathematical analysis, and you should not just accept whatever schedule goals come down the pipeline from upstairs, such as from the customer or the project sponsor.
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