Every project manager dreads the same thing, i.e., setting unrealistic timelines. Tell me if I am wrong.
As a project manager, you have a critical responsibility to schedule a project in the most efficient way possible.
The need for project management scheduling arises from allocating the desirable amount of resources and time for success.
But how do you do that?
Various project management software available in the market provide a better scope to achieve this in a more methodical and cost-effective way, using various aspects such as performance reviews and supply utilization
To aid with this, various techniques are put into play, which helps track and schedule the project.
This article sheds light on various project management scheduling techniques that can help increase your project completion success rate. So let’s begin.
Why Is Project Scheduling Important?
Project management scheduling involves the tasks pending, the scope of the project, and the timeframe within which the project needs to be complete, with the use of appropriate resources.
Simply put, a schedule is your project timeline that involves a series of activities and milestones that have to be delivered under a deadline date.
During project execution, many uncertainties arise that result in the change of project scope. This makes it difficult to create and stick to a schedule.
Meticulous planning and attention to detail are crucial to implementing the project successfully. Having a project plan tells you exactly what should be delivered and in what order. Resource allocation helps you find and assign the right employees. And then, a schedule is created that tells you exactly when all of that should happen.
With the right scheduling techniques, you can even adjust some of your tasks if a project is running late or if any changes to the scope occur.
Techniques for Project Scheduling Management
1. Critical Path Method (CPM)
CPM is a mathematical technique that indicates the maximum and minimum time needed to complete a project. To use the CPM, the manager requires the following information:
- A record of all the sub-tasks included in the significant task/project
- The amount of time spent at each of them
iii. The interdependency between them
- Possible checkpoints
Once all this information is gathered, the critical path method is then used to calculate the longest running time of the project.
A critical path helps visualize the project flow and evaluate its duration when all deliverables and dependencies are known. Besides, this technique is not so feasible if there are many uncertainties involved in the project.
The four variables used to determine the critical path are ES(earliest start), EF(earliest finish), LS(latest start), and LF(latest finish). These parameters are put against A(activity) and T(time).
Using the aforementioned parameters, the expected time of the whole project is then calculated.
2. Project Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)
PERT 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 required for the project to be completed. Although PERT looks very similar to CPM, it uses a weighted average duration rather than estimates to calculate possible timeframes.
PERT involves the use of arrows and nodes where arrows indicate the work that needs to be completed, and nodes indicate the desirable checkpoint in the project. Using CPM and PERT together, project management scheduling gets easier and efficient.
Events and activities in PERT include:
- Successor event that follows another or multiple events without any other events interfering.
- Predecessor event that precedes another or multiple numbers of events without any other events interfering.
iii. PERT event that includes the beginning or completion of multiple activities.
- PERT activity consists of the work that requires actual labor, monetary or manual resources, and time.
- PERT sub-activity is a PERT activity divided into smaller components.
Furthermore, PERT enables you to estimate different timelines for a project depending on the level of confidence:
- Optimistic timing
- Pessimistic timing
- Most-likely timing
3. Gantt Chart or Harmonogram
Named after its inventor Henry Gantt, the statistical tool gives the picture of a project schedule in the form of a graph. In this graph, the vertical axis indicates the tasks to be performed, and the horizontal axis of the cartesian plane indicates the time taken for each task to be completed.
It provides an overview or blueprint of the project, which is based on any project management scheduling. Gantt charts are created by having an early start time approach, which helps in maximizing float time.
4. Resource Leveling Heuristics
Resource leveling in project management work as a double-edged sword as it used to avoid over- or- under-utilization of the supplies available or cut delivery time. This sometimes also results in increasing the project’s cost and time.
However, using resources wisely is critical to completing the project. Resource leveling with a timeframe can be of significant advantage when activities are divided or merged to ensure optimal resource usage.
5. Time Contractions
When deadlines approach, the need to accelerate the work on a given project arises with which a schedule has to be reduced in length. This can be done using crashing and fast-tracking.
Fast-tracking is used to track sub-tasks that can be executed simultaneously or done in integration with each other, whereas crashing refers to the inclusion of additional resources so that the time taken by the project reduces—for instance, 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
The simulation technique of this kind is often used in areas where many uncertainties and variables are involved. Monte Carlo Simulation takes into account the randomness of data to generate results that show various ways of scheduling a project. That means, even if scope changes or additional tasks occur, you can adjust your schedule accordingly.
Other generic and primitive project management scheduling techniques involve the usage of calendars, to-do lists, and preparing excel sheets to assign tasks to each individual.
Writing and assigning tasks to each employee involved in the project, periodical reviewing, creating milestones, and keeping the nature of the schedule dynamic are some of the critical areas in which project managers have to be adept.