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Project Schedule

Project Schedule

Author: Jeff Carroll

Determine the various factors that can impact a project schedule.

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Source: Image of project schedule, Public Domain,; Image of schedules, Gantt charts, Creative Commons, Jeff Carroll.

Video Transcription

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Hi, I'm Jeff, and in this lesson, we'll discuss the project schedule. It's the project manager's responsibility to determine the time that it will take to complete all work included in the WBS. And this is done through the project schedule. When the schedule is complete, it should reflect the sequence in which work will proceed, who will perform the work, and the time required to complete all the deliverables.

So let's get started. As an example project, let's imagine that your group has been tasked to modify your organization's website to add the ability for a customer to submit a complaint form. The list of work for such a project might look like this. When creating the schedule for this project, the project manager will need to research and manage four interrelated factors associated with all the tasks.

Resources. With people resources, who will complete the work? How much time can each person devote to a project? What is their expertise? And for resources other than people, what equipment and materials are needed, and will they be available when the project needs them?

Time and effort. Time is the duration of the task in calendar days, and effort is the actual hours, days, or weeks required to complete the task. For example, if a task takes eight hours to complete, but the resource can only devote four hours per day, then the effort on task would be the eight hours, but the time on task would be two days.

Dependencies. In what sequence must work be performed? And what work must be completed before other work can be completed? Notice how our schedule changes when we add the dependencies.

And quality. What is the level of quality needed on each deliverable, and how will that impact the time and effort needed to complete the work? Higher quality often results in more time spent on task, so this must be considered before the schedule is finalized.

Once resources have been assigned to tasks and estimates have been received from those resources for the time and effort involved to finish the work, then the schedule is complete. At this point, a project manager must review the schedule and attempt to identify any outstanding issues. A project manager should ask these questions.

Are all activities and tasks identified and adequately estimated to achieve project deliverables? Does the schedule include all activities required to keep the project moving forward? Does the critical path finish in the time allotted for the project? The critical path is the longest string of depended tasks within the schedule.

Once these questions are answered positively, a schedule is complete. Then the project manager must present it to the stakeholders and the team members. It might be difficult for others to visualize how the work will proceed, so the project manager should use methods to make the schedule more understandable. One method is a Gantt chart, as shown here. This chart displays the sequence of activities, dependencies, and resource assignments in a visual manner that is easier to understand.

For some stakeholders and team members, the project manager might create an even simpler version of the schedule that has only high level tasks and activities. The project manager might also give team members only the portion of their schedule that contains the task for which they're responsible. Common tools, such as Microsoft Project, can be used to create Gantt charts and manage the schedule.

And now you have a project schedule. Excellent. You now know the factors that impact a project schedule, you've learned how to complete a schedule, and you understand how to communicate a schedule to others. Thanks and have a great day.

Terms to Know
Critical Path

The longest string of dependent project activities and tasks required to complete a project in the shortest amount of time.

Effort Estimating

The process of determining amount of labor (hours) that is required to complete each task or activity.

Gantt Chart

A graphical display of the scheduled work within a project.

Project Schedule

The time required to complete all of the activities and tasks within a project.

Time Estimating

The process of estimating the duration of each task or activity.