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Project schedule management: a complete guide for 2024

Now imagine yourself scratching your brain, trying to figure out how to keep your project’s timeline under control.

Perhaps you’re a freelancer attempting to arrange for client employment. Or maybe you’re a project manager in need of a fast refresher on the various methods for project scheduling. We’ve got you covered no matter what.

This article will explain what schedule management is, why it’s critical for project managers, how to handle a schedule, and many approaches to efficient project scheduling. We’ll also teach you how to use software to increase productivity and lower the chance of error, to make your life even simpler.

What does project management schedule management entail?

The process of organising, creating, managing, and keeping an eye on a project timetable in order to ensure that tasks and activities are finished on time is known as schedule management in project management.

This serves as an illustration. Assume the role of project manager overseeing a group of people who are planning a well-known music event.

Time management is essential. You must ensure that the performers get there on time, that all of your vendors are prepared, and that security is available when you need it. A few more problems might arise, such as a delayed sound truck, a performer cancelling and you having to find a last-minute replacement, etc.

By managing your schedule well, you’ll be able to overcome these obstacles and make the required changes to provide a flawless festival experience, which will lead to a prosperous and unforgettable event.

A project schedule: what is it?

A project schedule is the primary instrument used in schedule management. A project schedule is a thorough timetable that lists all of the duties, events, and deadlines needed to finish a project. It assists you in organising, monitoring, and controlling the resources and activities involved in your project so that it is completed on schedule.

Although Gantt charts are the most often used format for project schedules, there are many more types available as well (we’ll discuss some of them later).

How to make a timetable for a project

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1. Specify the project’s parameters.

A project scope is an exhaustive inventory of all the deliverables, tasks, technical requirements, and customer expectations that the project covers (and excludes). Before you can determine how long a project will take and what it exactly comprises, you cannot start to build a timeline for it.

2. Make a list of tasks.

The project must then be divided into smaller tasks that may be given to the project team. To simplify this procedure as much as possible, you may accomplish this within your project management software. Even better, Monday.com AI assistant can complete this task automatically for you. Simply enter your overall aim, and it will recommend items for your task list.

3. Determine the relationships between tasks.

The rational connections between tasks are known as task dependencies. Consider the scenario where you are organising a building project. Before pouring the foundation, the desired building site would need to be excavated. This means that the work “Foundation Pour” is dependent upon the task “Site Excavation” being completed. This is an example of a task dependency, and you must consider it when developing your project schedule.

4. Establish project benchmarks.

Adding extra checkpoints, also known as project milestones, along the route to your ultimate deadline makes sense for the majority of projects. This will assist you in identifying and quickly resolving any delays.

5. Assign work

As you assign tasks to your project team, take into consideration the unique skills and capabilities of each team member. You can monitor your team’s workload using Monday Work Management by using the Workload View, ensuring that no one has too much on their plate.

6. Keep an eye on and assess the timetable.

Now that you have a timetable in place, it is imperative that you closely monitor its implementation. After all, it’s wise to anticipate the unexpected when it comes to project management. One useful tool for getting a high-level overview of your project and confirming that you’re still on course is Monday.com’s roadmap dashboard.

The significance of efficient time management

Despite being the third most important project procedure, about 40% of projects lack a thorough planning phase.

Throughout the course of the project, schedule management assists you in staying on course and averting possible problems.

Additionally, scheduling jobs enables you to recognise dependencies, or the rational connections between them. Task dependencies are necessary in order to prioritise actions correctly.

Let’s take the example of wanting to prepare a panini sandwich.

If so, you might divide the stages as follows:

Cut the bread.

Spread the bread with mustard.

Assemble the cheese and meat.

Include your vegetables.

Combine everything.

In this instance, it wouldn’t be possible to spread mustard on the bread before cutting it, would it?

As a result, the task “slicing bread” depends on the action “smearing mustard.” Task dependencies assist you in creating a logical sequence for all of the operations in your project. It will be difficult to detect these dependencies in the absence of a project timetable.

RisePath can help with timetable organisation. Look it over right now!Essential elements in managing project schedules

Although each project is unique, the following are typical components of your schedule management process:

Determining the precise tasks and activities needed to finish the project is known as activity definition. First, you must have a thorough understanding of the project’s goals and parameters.

Activity sequencing is the process of determining which tasks must be completed in a certain sequence, which ones cannot be completed simultaneously, and which ones depend on other tasks being completed before.

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Activity Duration Estimation: Calculating how long each job will take to finish. Great if you have data from earlier projects; if not, you might need to rely on your professional judgement in this situation.

The process of developing a new project plan that details all of the tasks you will perform, the sequence in which you will complete them, and the estimated time for each task. The initial version of the project schedule, commonly known as the schedule baseline, is the “official” version that you may use to guide you as you work. It will, of course, probably alter if activities are finished more quickly or more slowly than anticipated.

timetable monitoring involves keeping tabs on the status of your project in relation to the baseline timetable and contrasting the actual results with your expectations.

Managing change: Ensuring that any alterations to the timetable are examined, accepted, and conveyed to the group and other project participants.

Three techniques for developing a strategy for project schedule management

As you create a project schedule management plan, you must estimate the duration of each activity and arrange them in a sequential manner. Establishing a sound project timeline can be challenging, particularly if your project has many dependencies and is complicated.

Actually, there are several approaches that you may use. The following are some of the more typical ones:

1. Method of Critical Path (CPM)

The critical path technique is a scheduling approach that aids in identifying the most effective route for your project. It is a powerful tool for comprehending the reasoning behind your activities and estimating their time.

Make a list of every task associated with the project in order to put this strategy into practice. Next, create an activity sequence that takes into account all of the project’s essential dependencies. You will next create what is known as a “network diagram,” which is a graphical depiction of the process for your project, based on this order.

An example of a network diagram is as follows:

After constructing this flowchart, you should calculate the length of each separate action. Lastly, identify your critical route, or the most effective way to finish your project.

2. PERT

Programme Evaluation and Review Technique is referred to as PERT. The primary distinction between PERT and CPM is how they estimate time. PERT employs three-point estimates for each duration, whereas CPM concentrates on one-time estimations:

Most probable duration: This is the best estimate for your jobs or projects, all other factors being equal.

The longest time you anticipate a task taking is your pessimistic estimate.

An optimistic estimate is the time it will take to complete a certain activity or project.

You may project an average project duration based on these estimations.

3. Gantt diagram

One of the most often used tools for project scheduling is the Gantt chart. An example of a standard Gantt chart is shown here:

These bars provide a quick method to identify the relationships between tasks by simply displaying the length of each task and their placement on the chart, which indicates how each activity is planned. Additionally, you may execute many workflows concurrently, like in this case:

The tiny diamonds arranged in a chart symbolise the significant points in your project. Gantt charts also show the current date as a vertical line, so you can quickly determine if you’re on schedule and modify your plan of action as necessary at any time along the journey.

Methods for calculating the length of a project

Apart from the PERT method discussed in the preceding section, there are several more methods to estimate the duration of each task:

Using expert judgement: Asking an expert is one of the most popular methods for estimating duration.  A senior software engineer, for example, will typically have a decent sense of how long the team could need to finish the project if it is software-related.

Analogous Estimating: You can make use of past information from completed projects as a guide. If you’re working on a new construction project, for example, you may base your estimations on how long you previously spent on each activity.

Parametric Estimating: Based on certain project factors, you may estimate durations using mathematical models. To determine how long it would take your team to write the code for a new feature, for example, you may use the time it takes them to write a single line of code as a parameter.

Bottom-Up Estimating: Dividing major activities into smaller, more manageable tasks and adding up the times to get the total length can usually help you produce an accurate estimate more easily.  Estimating the time it would take to build one wall, for example, is easier to do than estimating the time it would take to build four.

Reserve Analysis: As a safety measure against unforeseen delays, it’s always a good idea to calculate how much time you’ll need in reserve. We refer to such method as reserve analysis. An example would be to determine the reserve time you should include in your project schedule management plan by first analysing how long it typically takes you to receive a shipment of component components (rather than depending only on the estimate your vendor gave you).

Delphi Technique: If you want to achieve extremely precise estimates, you might want to consider employing the Delphi Technique rather of depending only on the opinion of one expert. This is the procedure for gathering separate estimates anonymously from a number of experts and then debating those estimates until a consensus is formed. As an illustration, you may ask your stakeholders and team how long they believe the project would take, and then use the average response to estimate the project’s duration.

Setting deadlines and project milestones

The majority of projects require many final deadlines. Setting many checkpoints and deadlines along the route is a smart idea to ensure that you stay on course and don’t stray too far from your baseline plan.

Milestones are the important junctures in a project, such when your team completes a certain set of deliverables. Establishing benchmarks aids in decomposing a complicated undertaking into smaller, more doable chunks.

Conversely, deadlines are the precise dates by which particular assignments or benchmarks must be completed. Setting deadlines is a fantastic method to instill a sense of responsibility and urgency.

To simply track whether or not you’re keeping up the proper pace to fulfil your ultimate date, you should include these milestones and deadlines in your project plan.

keeping an eye on and managing the project timeline

The management of a schedule is a continuous process.  You must constantly compare the project’s actual development to the baseline and note any differences if you want to keep your team on course.

The team may identify any risks or delays, stay informed about the project’s progress, and make choices to keep it on track with the support of regular updates and status reports.

It won’t only assist to maintain your project on track if you pay close attention to your timetable. It also allows you to allocate resources as efficiently as possible. For example, reassigning part of a team member’s work to a colleague might help them catch up if you see they are lagging behind.

RisePath makes it simple to manage your tasks, deadlines, and milestones. Check it out now to avoid letting your tasks get behind schedule!

Handling alterations and delays in the timetable

Only 63% of projects are completed on schedule; for companies with less developed project management capabilities, that percentage falls to 39%.

Effectively handling setbacks is crucial for project managers to master schedule management. Here’s what to do if you see that you’ve deviated from your baseline schedule:

Determine the underlying cause: Begin by determining the reason for the delay. By doing this, you may be able to stop the same problem from occurring later.

Evaluate the effect: To what extent will this delay be significant? While certain delays won’t really affect reaching deadlines and goals, others will.

Be open and honest: Problems arise, and change is a natural part of life. Things will get worse if the delay is concealed. Rather, notify all parties involved about any delays so they may modify their schedules.

Revise your schedule: Discuss with your project team in order to create a new one that takes the new information into account. Do some duties need to be skipped? Do you require additional resources? This is your opportunity to get things back on track.

Record choices and modifications: Put down in writing what transpired, why it occurred, and your response. In addition to being useful for upcoming initiatives, this holds everyone accountable.

Learn from your errors and do better the next time by discussing the delay with the project team once you’ve replied to it.


Richard Jones

Richard has managed various roles from Sales Manager to Director of Operations. He has a Sales and Marketing background and has implemented multiple sales, support and marketing systems at his companies.

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