Project Management is a cumulative effort of a bunch of highly skilled professionals who drive a project toward its completion within its predetermined time and budget. It is not only the project manager who fuels the project; he is assisted by a number of personnel who perform important functions in project success. One of them is a Project Scheduler who plans and prepares the step-by-step schedule for the team and gives the PM a detailed overview of the project timeline.
A project schedule is the most crucial document that the PM closely refers to during the entire project tenure. It helps him set the daily goals for the team and distribute the workload, maintaining proximity between the initial project plan and the final project outcome. While framing a project schedule seems challenging, here are five easy steps with which you can create a successful, achievable project schedule.
5 Steps for Creating a Successful Project Schedule
A project involves constraints like time, scope, and budget which determine its path. A project schedule must be a short and achievable road map that will lead the project to completion while complying with these constraints.
Step 1 – Define the Activities
Any project planning needs prior understanding and a thorough idea of what the client expects from the project team. The Project Scheduler must go through the proposal minutely, highlighting the timeline of completion, the budget of the client, who should be appointed and what task should be allocated to them. More than when to complete the project, how to complete it is the essential part of the schedule that defines which activities are to be performed by whom.
Step 2 – Design a Project Plan
Meeting with the client and discussing the project with him is necessary to identify the minimum viable product (MVP). A project plan must be designed keeping the workpieces in order of priority, taking into account any probable delays or scope creeps that may affect the deadline.
Step 3 – Allocate Resources
Progressing successfully requires planned allocation of tasks to the right personnel. There may be contractors and freelancers involved in the work apart from internal employees. Which pieces of work are to be assigned to outsourcing agents and which portion will be executed by the internal team is a major decision to make.
Step 4 – Set Time
Sticking to the predetermined deadline while proceeding with the project is important. Time can be estimated by working backwards from the set date and refining a day’s work hour with progress. However, it is good to keep some extra days as a buffer to enable reviews and approvals and make up for unfinished work in case of any unprecedented delays.
Step 5 – Track Progress
Monitoring progress and preparing project reports is a regular task for project managers and associates. For bigger projects, daily, weekly, or monthly progress can be tracked using a good project management tool. This way, they avoid the hassle of manual tracking.
How Do I Create a Starting Progress Baseline?
A project baseline denotes the starting point of a project that clearly defines its scope, schedule, and budget. The baseline acts as the reference against which the progress of the project is monitored and reported. Thus, determining a proper project baseline helps with tracking progress, identifying variations, and determining the right project path.
For a strong project baseline, there must be well-defined guidelines for project objectives and deliverables. If the objective is clear, one can easily break down the task into small achievable pieces to attain the daily goals.
The budget of a project includes everything from hourly rates of the workers, contractual vendor wages, equipment involved, resources utilised, and software subscriptions. Cost estimation helps track whether any cost is going over the budget or any cost can be transferred to a more necessary resource.
Set Up Schedule
A flexible project schedule should be designed using a scheduling tool to adjust and modify it according to the requirements. The project plan should provide enough time to complete it rationally and include any probable delays that might affect the deadline.
How do I Predict Schedule Duration?
A project schedule is created based on a set duration within which the project needs to be completed. Any unprecedented alteration of timeline, delays due to scope creeps, or slow progress can harm the pre-set deadline. Predicting the timeline involves the following :
●Estimating the project schedule taking all project aspects into account.
●Identifying and estimating each work item.
●Communicating with the team members and contractors.
●Assigning them with a balanced workload based on their availability.
How Do I Determine Resource Allocation?
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of employees is essential before assigning them responsibilities. Resource allocation is performed jointly by project managers, leads, schedulers, and scrum masters to reduce any faulty decisions. Project assignments are provided to both the internal team as well as third party contractors and vendors who work on certain tasks according to their efficiencies.
Resource allocations must always be done in coordination with all the team leaders. Kick-off meetings are organised before making any decision to communicate with the concerned team members and know their availability, attainable workload, and preferred work hours. Regular monitoring and tracking of progress must be performed to modify any allocation to avoid delays and failures.
Keeping the Schedule on Track and on Time
When the project schedule has been framed, the next ongoing task is to monitor whether the progress of the project complies with the prepared schedule. There will be variations in the daily project goals as work is underway, but altering the plan frequently with undocumented changes may make it nearly impossible to achieve success.
There are several good project management software tools to create a plan, schedule tasks, allocate resources, and follow the end date. However, there should be frequent meetings organised to communicate with the team leads and members to decide upon the progress and attend to any issues hindering the project’s completion.
The project schedule is the determining factor that drives the project methodically towards success. Creating a detailed prior plan before diving into the project leads the workflow in a streamlined manner, and provides set daily goals to help foresee completion in a defined way.