Creating A Project Schedule? Here Are The Most Used Formats To Assemble Your Project Schedule
According to the PMI (Project Management Institute) approach to project management, the relationship between activities, their start and finish times, and the project schedule overall are dealt with in the time management knowledge phase of the management process, which also ensures the timely completion of every project activity. Therefore, while using time management, it’s important to identify all of the project’s activities, specify how they relate to one another, draw a network diagram, and conduct an analysis of the schedule network in order to properly manage the time and schedule of the project and its deliverables.
The information obtained during earlier processes needs to be gathered and collated so that the entire project schedule can be finished in the sixth phase of the knowledge area, called the Develop Schedule process. This covers the beginning and ending dates for every particular project activity. Therefore, we can say that a Project schedule will be the ultimate result of the analysis made from the schedule network, as well as all of the earlier planning activities, as is stated by the PMI and is taught in most PMP exam prep or training courses.
In this article, we will examine project scheduling strategies, the project scheduling procedure, and sample project schedules in-depth in this post.
What Is A Project Schedule And How Does It Support Project Management?
The project schedule lists every action that will take place throughout the project, along with who will do what and the activities that depend on other activities. After the project schedule is complete, the overall duration of the project will be calculated.
The main points of a project schedule are:
- Shows the results of the schedule network analysis and previous planning processes.
- The schedule can be shown with or without dependencies.
- The schedule may be represented in the following formats: Network Diagram, Milestone Charts, and Bar Charts.
Dependencies may or may not be shown in the project schedule. This can be for ease of visualization, or if a specific set of tasks are being drilled down on in a deeper analysis. Knowing which tasks are dependent on others is crucial, but is not needed for every circumstance when discussing the schedule. Consider the scenario where assessing a project activity is dependent on the growth of the relevant activity being finished first. However, this reliance may not be indicated in the project timeline. The start and finish dates of every activity will be influenced and determined by the relationships between activities within the network diagram, and the project plan must reflect these dates accordingly.
Commonly Used Formats For a Project Schedule
Project schedules can be formatted in any of these commonly used formats. Each of them has its unique characteristics and some pros and cons that can help you decide which one you should pick for your project. Many project managers have their own preferences but each has their pros and cons and are useful in different environments. Take a look at their descriptions below.
Formats For Your Project Schedule – Network Diagram
Network diagrams use boxes with activity IDs to represent the project’s activities, and arrows to demonstrate how those activities are related to one another. Network diagrams show whether one action will begin sooner, later, or concurrently with another activity. You can see how tasks relate to each other and get a good overview of a project with this diagram.
Formats For Your Project Schedule – Milestone Charts
On a timetable, milestone charts display a project’s key dates. Milestones are moments in time that have no length and are significant in regard to the project. In most cases, milestones don’t have an assignee either. This chart is a great method for visualizing the progress of a project, so a project manager can safely evaluate and analyse the project to see if there are any issues that could affect the time of the project.
A software project that has seven milestones would list them as: starting the project, finishing collecting the requirements, completing the design, finishing the coding, completing the testing, finishing the implementation, and lastly, concluding the project. There are going to be many project tasks that need to be accomplished in a software project, but the milestone chart simply lists the seven main project processes and the dates for each milestone.
Formats For Your Project Schedule – Bar/Gantt Charts
The sole distinction between milestone charts and bar charts, also called Gantt charts, is that they only display key project events. Activity ID and name, activity duration, and start and finish dates for all project activities are displayed in a list format on bar/Gantt charts. An example would be a chart with ten project activities that have their duration, as well as their start and finish dates being indicated in the chart, correspondingly.
Planning tools like Gantt charts can sometimes be ineffective because they behave in a very activity-specific way and tend to lack network diagrams’ ability to depict the relationships between activities or a project’s critical path.
For tracking and reporting progress, Gantt charts can be the most useful. Gantt charts, for instance, may be used to identify the activities that still need to be finished, those that are currently in progress, and those that have already been completed. The project’s team members may also view Gantt charts that show the beginning and ending dates of every activity.
Picking The Right Project Schedule Format For Your Project
We looked at three different types of formats you can use for your project schedule. So which one should you pick? Well, it mostly depends on what use you want it to have for your particular situation.
These bullet points might help you decide:
- Network diagrams depict a project’s critical path and the interdependence of its many operations. Hence, a network diagram would be an excellent solution if you want to emphasize these.
- Only pivotal points in a project are displayed on milestone charts. As a result, high-level data, rather than each activity’s details, is going to be more pertinent to the senior management staff if you will be drafting a report to inform them.
- To monitor progress and provide updates to your project team, Gantt charts can be used. For example, Gantt charts would be a better alternative for your reporting if you want to indicate finished activities, the activities still in progress, or the activities for the upcoming weeks.
To summarize, you must adopt the proper format according to the reporting style you want to do, which at the same time depends on which stakeholders you are reporting to, and the information you are going to be providing.