Schedule Management

Project Schedule Management is a critical aspect of project management, involving processes necessary to ensure timely completion of the project. It includes several key processes: Plan Schedule Management, Define Activities, Sequence Activities, Estimate Activity Durations, Develop Schedule, and Control Schedule.

Plan Schedule Management sets up the policies, procedures, and documentation for managing the project schedule. It involves planning, developing, managing, executing, and controlling the project schedule. This process is crucial for the execution and control of the project schedule.

Define Activities involves identifying and documenting specific actions needed to produce the project deliverables. This process is essential for outlining the steps required to achieve project goals.

Sequence Activities is the process of identifying and documenting relationships among the project activities. This step is crucial in understanding the order of tasks and helps in planning and managing the project schedule effectively.

Estimate Activity Durations refers to the process of estimating the number of work periods required to complete individual activities with the estimated resources. The goal of this process is to determine the time needed to complete each activity, which aids in developing a realistic project schedule.

Develop Schedule involves analyzing activity sequences, durations, resource requirements, and schedule constraints to create the project schedule model. This model is used for project execution and monitoring and controlling. A thorough understanding of activity sequences, durations, resource requirements, and schedule constraints is required for this process.

Control Schedule is a process that monitors the status of the project to update the project schedule and manage changes to the schedule baseline. This process is crucial for keeping the project on track and managing any deviations from the planned schedule.

While the Project Schedule Management processes are depicted as separate processes with defined interfaces in the PMBOK® Guide, in practical application, these processes overlap and interact in ways not fully detailed in the guide. Understanding this interaction is crucial for effective project schedule management.

Tailoring Considerations

Tailoring Project Schedule Management processes is essential due to the unique characteristics of each project. Factors influencing tailoring may include the life cycle approach, resource availability, project dimensions, and technology support.

The life cycle approach can be tailored to allow for a more detailed project schedule. This approach considers the project's phases and the level of detail required in the schedule at each phase. Tailoring the life cycle approach ensures the schedule is comprehensive and adaptable to the project's changing needs.

Resource availability and the correlation between available resources and their productivity can significantly impact project durations. Understanding these factors allows for more accurate schedule planning and management.

Project complexity, technological uncertainty, product novelty, pace, and progress tracking methods can also influence the desired level of control in a project. For instance, projects with high technological uncertainty or novel products may require more rigorous schedule control.

Progress tracking methods, such as earned value, percentage complete, or red-yellow-green (stop light) indicators, can be tailored to suit the project's needs. These methods provide a visual representation of project progress, aiding in schedule management.

Technology plays a crucial role in developing, recording, transmitting, receiving, and storing project schedule model information. The technology used should be readily accessible to all project stakeholders to ensure effective communication and collaboration.

For more specific information regarding scheduling, refer to resources like the Practice Standard for Scheduling. This standard provides detailed guidance on scheduling best practices, helping project managers tailor their schedule management processes effectively.

Considerations For Agile/Adaptive Environments

Adaptive approaches in project schedule management are akin to a skilled surfer riding the waves. They involve using short cycles to perform work, review results, and make necessary adaptations, much like a surfer adjusting to the changing waves. These approaches provide quick feedback on the methods and suitability of deliverables, enabling teams to adjust their strategies as needed.

Key features of adaptive approaches include iterative scheduling and on-demand, pull-based scheduling. These methods allow for flexibility and responsiveness to changes, which are essential in dynamic project environments.

In large organizations, managing a mix of small projects and large initiatives often requires long-term roadmaps. These roadmaps provide a high-level view of the project timeline, facilitating coordination and planning across different projects.

Scaling factors such as team size, geographical distribution, regulatory compliance, organizational complexity, and technical complexity are used to manage the development of programs in large organizations. These factors help determine the appropriate project management approach and techniques.

To address the full delivery life cycle for larger, enterprise-wide systems, techniques utilizing a predictive approach, adaptive approach, or a hybrid of both may be needed. Depending on the project's complexity and uncertainty, the organization may need to combine practices from several core methods or adopt a method that has already combined them.

Regardless of the project management approach used, the role of the project manager remains consistent. Whether managing projects using a predictive development life cycle or in adaptive environments, the project manager needs to understand the relevant tools and techniques. Just as a surfer needs to know their board and the sea, familiarity with these tools and techniques is crucial for the successful application of adaptive approaches, enabling the project manager to effectively guide the team and manage the project schedule.

Trends And Emerging Practices In Project Schedule Management

Imagine you're managing a project in a tech startup, developing a new software product. In today's fast-paced, competitive global marketplace, the environment in which you're working is characterized by high levels of uncertainty and unpredictability. One day, a competitor might release a similar product, or a new technology might emerge that changes the game entirely.

In such a context, you need a framework for adopting and tailoring development practices that is adaptive, capable of responding to these changing needs of the environment. This is where adaptive planning comes into play.

Adaptive planning is a method that defines a plan but also acknowledges the possibility of changing priorities once work begins. As new knowledge is gained and priorities change, the plan should be updated accordingly.

Emerging practices for project scheduling methods include iterative scheduling with a backlog and on-demand scheduling. These methods are designed to accommodate change and deliver value incrementally.

Iterative scheduling with a backlog is a form of rolling wave planning based on adaptive life cycles, such as the agile approach for product development. In this method, requirements are documented in user stories, prioritized and refined just prior to construction, and the product features are developed using time-boxed periods of work. This approach is often used to deliver incremental value to the customer or when multiple teams can concurrently develop a large number of features with few interconnected dependencies. The benefit of iterative scheduling with a backlog is that it welcomes changes throughout the development life cycle.

Consider the example of our tech startup. Here, on-demand scheduling, an approach typically used in a Kanban system, could be highly beneficial. This method, based on the theory-of constraints and pull-based scheduling concepts from lean manufacturing, limits a team’s work in progress to balance demand against the team’s delivery throughput.

It does not rely on a previously developed schedule for the development of the product or product increments, but pulls work from a backlog or intermediate queue of work as resources become available. This approach is often used for projects that evolve the product incrementally in operational or sustainment environments, and where tasks may be made relatively similar in size and scope or can be bundled by size and scope. In our startup scenario, this method allows the team to adapt quickly to changes in the competitive landscape or technology advancements, ensuring the project stays relevant and competitive.