Creating a Robust Project Schedule: Key Outputs and Changes

Developing a Project Schedule is a critical process within Project Schedule Management, which involves determining the planned start and finish dates for project activities and milestones.

This section explores the outputs of the schedule development process, including updates to the project management plan and project documents, project calendars, change requests, the project schedule, schedule data, and the schedule baseline. These outputs provide a comprehensive view of the project timeline, resource requirements, and potential risks, enabling effective project execution and control.

The process of developing a project schedule interacts with other project management processes in several ways. For instance, the project schedule informs the planning and execution of project activities, while the schedule baseline provides a reference point for monitoring and controlling project performance. Similarly, the change requests that arise from this process are processed through the Perform Integrated Change Control process, demonstrating the interconnectedness of project management processes. Ultimately, a well-developed project schedule contributes to the successful completion of the project, delivering value to the stakeholders.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the process of making changes to the project management plan and the circumstances under which updates may be required.
  • Recognize the importance of updating project documents and the impact of resource-leveling analysis on project documents.
  • Understand the purpose and function of a project calendar in identifying working days and shifts for scheduled activities.
  • Comprehend the components and purpose of a project schedule, including the different ways it can be presented.
  • Understand the concept of a schedule baseline, its role in project schedule management, and its use during the monitoring and controlling phase.

Project Management Plan Updates

The project management plan is a living document that may require updates as the project progresses. Any modifications to the plan must go through the organization's change control process via a change request. This ensures that changes are properly evaluated, approved, and documented, maintaining the integrity of the project management plan.

Two key components of the project management plan that may necessitate a change request are the schedule management plan and the cost baseline. The schedule management plan may be updated to reflect alterations in the development and management of the schedule. This could be due to changes in project scope, resource availability, or project risks, among other factors.

Changes to the cost baseline are typically made in response to approved changes in scope, resources, or cost estimates. The cost baseline represents the approved version of the project budget excluding any management reserves, and it is used as a reference for comparison with actual project costs.

In certain situations, cost variances may be so significant that a revised cost baseline is required. This could be due to unforeseen project costs, significant changes in project scope, or major shifts in resource costs. A revised cost baseline provides a realistic basis for performance measurement, enabling more accurate tracking and control of project costs.

What is the process for making modifications to the project management plan?
  1. Directly making changes to the plan
  2. Going through the organization's change control process via a change request
  3. Making changes without any formal request
  4. Making changes based on the project manager's discretion
B) Going through the organization's change control process via a change request

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Project Documents Updates

The Develop Schedule process often necessitates updates to various project documents. These updates ensure that all project information is current and accurate, facilitating effective project management and stakeholder communication.

Activity attributes in project documents may be updated to include revised resource requirements and other revisions. These updates reflect changes in the project's schedule and resource allocation.

The assumption log, another crucial project document, may be updated with changes to assumptions in duration, resource utilization, sequencing, or other information revealed during the development of the schedule model. These updates help maintain the accuracy and relevance of the project's assumptions.

Changes in the number and availability of resources, along with activity dependencies, can result in updates to duration estimates in project documents. These updates ensure that the project's schedule reflects the most current understanding of resource availability and task dependencies.

Resource-leveling analysis can significantly impact duration estimates and resource requirements in project documents. If this analysis changes resource requirements, both duration estimates and resource requirements in project documents will likely need to be updated.

The lessons learned register, a key project document, can be updated with techniques that were efficient and effective in developing the schedule model. These updates capture valuable knowledge for future projects.

Finally, the risk register may need to be updated to reflect opportunities or threats perceived through scheduling assumptions. These updates ensure that the project's risk management strategies remain relevant and effective.

Which of the following project documents is likely to be updated during the Develop Schedule process?
  1. Project charter
  2. Assumption log
  3. Stakeholder register
  4. Project management plan
B) Assumption log

Project Calendars

I recall a time when I was managing a complex project with a diverse team spread across multiple time zones. The challenge of coordinating everyone's schedules was daunting. It was then that I truly appreciated the value of a project calendar in project schedule management.

The project calendar was our guiding light. It clearly identified the working days and shifts available for scheduled activities, making a clear distinction between time periods available for work and those that were not. This differentiation was not just a convenience, but a necessity for accurate scheduling and resource allocation.

In some cases, more than one project calendar may be needed in a schedule model. This is particularly true for complex projects with various activities that may have different work periods. For instance, some activities may only be performed during business hours, while others may be carried out during weekends or night shifts. Multiple project calendars ensure that these differences are accurately reflected in the project schedule.

The role of multiple project calendars extends to accurately calculating the project schedule. By accounting for different work periods for various activities, they help in creating a realistic and achievable project schedule.

One key lesson I learned from that experience is that project calendars are not set in stone. They are dynamic documents that can and should be updated as necessary to reflect changes in work availability, project requirements, or other factors. Regular updates ensure that the project calendar remains a reliable tool for scheduling and managing project activities.

Looking back at my multi-time zone project, the project calendar was instrumental in keeping us on track and coordinated. It was a testament to the importance of this tool in project schedule management.

What is the primary purpose of a project calendar in project management?
  1. To track project costs
  2. To identify working days and shifts available for scheduled activities
  3. To list all the stakeholders involved in a project
  4. To provide a detailed cost estimate of the project
B) To identify working days and shifts available for scheduled activities

Change Requests

Imagine you're managing a project to launch a new website for your company. Halfway through the project, the marketing team decides they want to add an e-commerce feature to the website. This modification to the project scope can often lead to change requests.

These requests may involve alterations to the scope baseline or other components of the project management plan. In this case, you might need to request additional time, resources, or budget to incorporate the e-commerce feature. Change requests like these are a common output of the Develop Schedule process, reflecting the dynamic nature of project management where adjustments are often necessary to align with evolving project objectives or constraints.

Change requests are not implemented immediately upon submission. They undergo a review process known as Perform Integrated Change Control. This process ensures that each change request is thoroughly evaluated for its potential impact on the project. Factors considered include the change's effect on the project's schedule, cost, quality, resources, and risk profile. Only after this comprehensive review are change requests approved or rejected.

Returning to our website launch project, preventive actions play a crucial role in managing the project schedule. These are recommended changes aimed at eliminating or reducing the likelihood of negative schedule variances.

For instance, anticipating that the addition of an e-commerce feature might delay the project, you could propose hiring an additional developer or extending the project timeline. By proactively identifying potential issues like these and proposing appropriate changes, project managers can maintain better control over the project schedule and enhance the chances of project success.

What can lead to change requests in the project management plan?
  1. Modifications to the project scope or project schedule
  2. Modifications to the project budget
  3. Modifications to the project team
  4. Modifications to the project stakeholders
A) Modifications to the project scope or project schedule

Project Schedule

I recall a time when I was managing a large-scale event. The event was a week-long conference with multiple sessions, speakers, and activities. The complexity of the event required meticulous planning and scheduling. This was when I truly understood the importance of a project schedule in project management.

The project schedule, a crucial output of the Develop Schedule process, was our roadmap. It included linked activities, planned dates, durations, milestones, and resources. Each activity had a planned start date and a planned finish date. However, this schedule was preliminary and subject to change until resource assignments were confirmed and scheduled start and finish dates were established. This usually happened by the completion of the project management plan.

A target project schedule model can be developed with a defined target start and target finish for each activity. The project schedule can be presented in summary form, also known as the master schedule or milestone schedule, or in detail.

The project schedule model can be presented in tabular form or graphically, often using formats such as bar charts. Bar charts, also known as Gantt charts, represent schedule information with activities listed on the vertical axis, dates on the horizontal axis, and activity durations as horizontal bars. They are easy to read and commonly used, and can depict float depending on the audience.

Milestone charts are similar to bar charts and identify the scheduled start or completion of major deliverables and key external interfaces. Project schedule network diagrams are often presented in the activity-on-node diagram format, showing activities and relationships without a time scale. They can also be presented in a time-scaled schedule network diagram format, also known as a logic bar chart. These diagrams usually show both the project network logic and the project’s critical path schedule activities.

Work packages in a project are usually planned as a series of related activities, as shown in project schedule network diagrams. A time-scaled logic diagram is another presentation of the project schedule network diagram, including a time scale and bars representing the duration of activities with logical relationships. These diagrams are optimized to show the relationships between activities, where multiple activities may appear on the same line of the diagram in sequence.

Reflecting on my experience with the conference, the project schedule was our guiding light. It helped us visualize the sequence of activities, manage resources, and ensure that everything ran smoothly. This experience underscored the importance of a well-structured project schedule in managing complex projects effectively.

What is the minimum information that a project schedule must include for each activity?
  1. The resources assigned to the activity
  2. The planned start date and planned finish date
  3. The dependencies between the activity and other activities
  4. The cost of the activity
B) The planned start date and planned finish date

Schedule Data

In the realm of project schedule management, schedule data emerges as a crucial output in the Develop Schedule process. This isn't just a random collection of information; it's a carefully curated set of data specifically designed to describe and control the project schedule. The role it plays is pivotal, managing the project timeline and ensuring every activity falls in line with the project's objectives and constraints.

At a minimum, schedule data should include schedule milestones, schedule activities, activity attributes, and documentation of all identified assumptions and constraints. These components provide a comprehensive overview of the project timeline, facilitating effective schedule control.

The amount of additional data in the schedule data can vary depending on the application area. This flexibility allows for the inclusion of information that is most relevant to the specific project or industry.

Supporting details often supplied in the schedule data include resource requirements by time period, often represented as a resource histogram. This visual representation of resource allocation over time aids in resource planning and management.

Alternative schedules, such as best-case or worst-case scenarios, can also be included in the schedule data. These provide a range of potential timelines, allowing for better risk management and contingency planning. Applied schedule reserves, which account for potential delays or disruptions, can also be part of the schedule data.

The schedule data doesn't stop there. It may also encompass resource histograms, cash-flow projections, order and delivery schedules, among other pertinent information. These additional details offer a deeper dive into the project's timeline, its resource needs, and financial requirements. In essence, they serve as the backbone of effective project management.

What is the primary purpose of schedule data in project schedule management?
  1. To provide a detailed cost estimate of the project
  2. To describe and control the project schedule
  3. To list all the stakeholders involved in a project
  4. To formally authorize a project
B) To describe and control the project schedule

Schedule Baseline

Imagine you're leading a project to launch a new product line for your company. You've mapped out a detailed schedule, outlining the timeline for each task, from product design to manufacturing and marketing. This approved version of the schedule model, known as the schedule baseline, becomes a critical component of your project schedule management.

The schedule baseline serves as a reference point for the project, allowing you to compare actual progress with planned progress at any given time. Importantly, any changes to the schedule baseline, such as delays in the design phase or acceleration of the manufacturing process, can only be made through formal change control procedures. This ensures that the project remains controlled and managed effectively.

The schedule baseline is used as a basis for comparison to actual results. It includes baseline start dates and baseline finish dates, which are accepted and approved by the appropriate stakeholders. These dates provide a clear timeline for the project, allowing for effective planning and coordination of project activities.

During the monitoring and controlling phase of the project, the schedule baseline plays a crucial role. The approved baseline dates are compared to the actual start and finish dates to identify any variances. This comparison allows for timely identification and resolution of schedule issues, ensuring that the project remains on track.

Reflecting on our product launch project, the schedule baseline, a component of the project management plan, provides a clear and agreed-upon timeline for the project. It facilitates effective communication and coordination among project stakeholders, from the design team to the marketing department.

By adhering to the schedule baseline, project teams can ensure that the project is delivered on time and within scope. Even if unexpected changes occur, such as a delay in receiving manufacturing materials, the formal change control procedures ensure that the schedule baseline is updated appropriately, keeping everyone on the same page and the project on track.

What is the primary purpose of a schedule baseline in project management?
  1. To provide a detailed cost estimate of the project
  2. To serve as a basis for comparison to actual results
  3. To list all the stakeholders involved in a project
  4. To provide a detailed list of all project activities
B) To serve as a basis for comparison to actual results