A project manager has a critical responsibility to schedule a project in the most efficient way possible. Various techniques are put into play to aid in tracking and scheduling the project. It helps in specifying where the project begins and ends, thereby calculating its whole duration. Meticulous planning and attention to detail are crucial for one to implement it successfully. This article sheds light on how project management scheduling works and the critical aspects involved in it.

The need for project management scheduling arises from allocating the desirable amount of resources and time for the project to be successful. Therefore, project management scheduling involves the tasks that need to be completed – the project scope and the time frame, along with the use of appropriate resources. In addition, the right people are crucial to running the project in alignment with software that helps track it. Project scheduling is the core functionality of project management software and project portfolio management tools.

Techniques for project scheduling management:

  1. Critical Path Method (CPM):

It is a mathematical technique that indicates the maximum and minimum time needed to complete a project. To build a critical path method; the manager requires the following information:

  1. A record of all the sub-tasks included in the significant task/project
  2. The amount of time spent at each of them
  3. The interdependency between them
  4. Possible checkpoints

Once you have all the information on hand, the critical party method helps calculate the longest running time of the project. 

The four variables that determine the critical path are ES(earliest start), EF(earliest finish), LS(latest start), LF(latest finish). Measure these parameters against A(activity) and t(time). You can find out the expected time of the entire project leveraging these.

 2) Project Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT):

PERT involves using arrows and nodes where arrows indicate the work that needs to be complete and nodes indicate the desirable checkpoint in the project. It is a computational tool used in conjunction with the critical path method to analyze the sequence of the tasks allocated to the project members involved. While CPM requires details about the projects, PERT fundamentally works with uncertainties and is put into practice to determine the minimum time needed to complete the project. Using CPM and PERT together, project management scheduling gets easier and efficient.

Events and activities in PERT include:

  1. Successor event – an event that follows another or multiple events without any other events interfering
  2. Predecessor event – an event that precedes another or various numbers of events without any further events interfering
  3. PERT event – beginning or completion of multiple activities
  4. PERT activity – the work which requires actual labor, monetary or manual resources, and time.
  5. PERT sub-activity – divided/ smaller components of a PERT activity. 

Time required

  1. Optimistic time
  2. Pessimistic time
  3. Expected time 
  4. Most likely time

 3) Gantt chart or Harmonogram

 Named after its inventor Henry Gantt, the statistical tool provides a graph of a project schedule where the vertical axis indicates the assigned tasks. The horizontal axis of the cartesian plane indicates the time taken to complete each task. Thus, it provides an overview or blueprint of the project, which is the basis of any project management scheduling. Gantt charts are created by having an early start time approach which helps in maximizing float time.

 4) Resource leveling

 Resource leveling heuristics in project management work as a double-edged sword since the usage of resource leveling to not over or underutilize the supplies available also affects the time taken for the work and can adversely affect your schedule. However, using resources wisely is optimal for success in the project. In addition, Resource-leveling with a timeframe can be a great advantage when a single program is needed to reduce completion time

5) Time contractions 

When deadlines approach, the need to accelerate the work on a given project arises. Reducing the length of the schedule is one way to do it. Crashing and fast-tracking can help achieve this.

Fast-tracking is used to track sub-tasks that can be executed simultaneously or integrated, whereas crashing refers to inclusion as additional resources so that the time taken by the project reduces—for example, adding new members to a team to accelerate work. But this approach can also lead to miscommunication and conflict of interests which may delay the work done instead of saving time. 

6) Monte Carlo Simulation

       This kind of stimulation technique applies in areas involving many uncertainties and variables. Monte Carlo Simulation considers this randomness of data to generate results that show various ways of scheduling a project. 

Final Words

Other generic and primitive techniques involve the usage of calendars, to-do lists, and preparing excel sheets with tasks given to each individual involved in the project are adopted for project scheduling management. Writing down your tasks, assigning them to each employee involved in the project, periodical reviewing, creating milestones, and keeping the nature of the schedule dynamic are critical areas in which project managers have to be adept. Software for project management scheduling available in the market provides a better scope to achieve this more organized and cost-effective use of various aspects, including performance reviews and supply utilization.

Writer’s bio: I am Deepali Chandani, passionate about helping people achieve their professional and personal goals through my articles. My areas of interest include project management, personality development, cloud computing, and business intelligence. Besides writing, I enjoy reading fiction novels and traveling to exotic destinations.

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