5 Tips for Developing the Best Project Schedule

Out of all project management responsibilities, the project schedule be your primary concern. The project schedule determines what will be completed, when it will be completed, and how it will be completed. The project schedule is crucial to ensuring all activities and tasks adhere to your budget, and it helps maintain accountability in the event of something bad happening during the project.

Essentially, the project schedule is comparable the DNA of a project; it provides the instructions for how to approach every detail in the project. Take a look at some of the best tips for creating a project schedule.

Work in a Top-Down Structure

Your project has one goal, and this goal includes all of the smaller processes in the project. Complete a breakdown of all the project’s requirements and outcomes, and include the details of how each aspect will be completed.

Furthermore, this helps you create a master schedule to create all subsequent schedules from. As a result, you can create the project schedule faster without necessarily revisiting the original plans every time a change occurs.

Define the Minimum Length of Time to Complete a Part of the Project

You must define how each major section of the project will be completed. Since each major portion may include hundreds of smaller activities, create a duration with an easy-to-recall number in mind. For example, you may use a duration of 14 days if most of the project’s major parts will take between 10 and 15 days to complete.

Assign Proper Parties to Creating Estimates For Resources

Rather than generating an estimated cost for resources, you should confer with the person who will have the responsibility of acquiring the resources for the project.

This eliminates misunderstandings and helps to encourage executive-level support in the creation of your project’s budget. As a result, you will be able to complete the project schedule faster and more accurately.

Include Extra Time For Increases in Project Scope

While creating a back-to-back schedule of activities may seem beneficial, this eliminates room for error. Unfortunately, this back-to-back relationship results in additional delays when changes in project scope occur. If you have a finite date for the completion of your project, you must include additional time in the schedule to account for project scope increases.

However, the amount of extra time should not exceed a reasonable expectation for the completion of the project, i.e. a scope-driven schedule should be long enough to ensure all appropriate activities are completed without going beyond the planned budget.

Update the Schedule Frequently

After creating the project schedule, it’s easy to want to leave it alone. However, the project schedule will change. Employees may call in, raw materials may suddenly become unavailable, or your project scope could increase. As a result, your project schedule should be updated frequently. Avoid waiting until multiple changes have occurred to update the schedule.

This helps prevent errors in data entry and ensures all parties can view the most accurate version of the schedule.

Your project schedule will be in a constant state of flux, and the perfect schedule will never be realistic. Fortunately, you can create the best project schedule by following these five tips.

Key Takeaway

  • Organize milestones, durations, and activities in a top-down manner at the beginning of schedule creation.
  • Define durations as the minimum length to complete a major aspect of a project.
  • Include staff with the responsibility of purchasing raw materials when creating an estimated cost for an activity within a project’s schedule.
  • Account for potential increases in project scope.
  • Update the schedule frequently to prevent errors from piling up.
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