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Project Planning Vs Project Scheduling: Key Difference, Benefits And Stages
This article will focus on explaining project planning Vs project scheduling. It will begin by defining both terms and then will proceed with providing some of the suggested steps toward proper project planning and scheduling. The article will then demonstrate the benefits of both project scheduling and project planning and will also attempt to show some of the main differences between these concepts.
What are Project Scheduling and Project Planning?
Scheduling in project management is the process that involves the listing of activities, deliverables and milestones of a project. The schedule for the project also involves a well-planned start and finish date, duration and resources dedicated for each activity. Basically, project scheduling is helpful because it helps you as project manager to carefully list the tasks to be completed so you can easily know what comes next.
According to the official PMBOK guide, project planning is a “formal, approved document which is used to guide both project execution and control”. Some organizations prefer to use the term work plan instead of project plan. Furthermore, a project plan represents a rather comprehensive document which includes project risks, organization, budget, scope, objectives, goals and project schedule itself. A project plan defines the basics of a project and thus helps turn an intangible idea into reality.
Steps of Project Planning and Project Scheduling
Project planning steps.
Before listing the main steps , it must be emphasized that a project plan represents a living document which is always subject to change. The following represent the steps toward project plan creation.
- Define the project stakeholders
- Define stakeholders’ roles in the project
- Introduce stakeholders to one another
- Set project goals and deliverables
- List the main tasks according to set priorities
- Create a schedule
- Identify and assess project risks
- Share the plan with stakeholders
- Perform necessary revisions
- Make a performance evaluation
Project scheduling steps
Project scheduling process involves the following steps:
- Analyze project scope and create the Work Breakdown Structure
- Determine the activities
- Determine the resources
- Calculate the duration of activities
- Determine the activity relationships and resources
- Create a detailed schedule and analyze
- Monitor and control the schedule
Benefits of Project Planning and Project Scheduling
Project planning benefits.
Project planning provides the following benefits:
- Assists the process of project scheduling
- It is useful in ensuring that the project will actually be implemented
- Ensures that progress is tracked and milestones are hit
- Ensures that clear priorities have been set
- Useful in assessing the necessary risks to help take action
- Useful in proper resource allocation
- Useful in the process of communication and responsibility sharing
Project Scheduling Benefits
Project scheduling provides the following benefits:
- Assists the processes of reporting, tracking and monitoring progress
- Ensures that everyone is following tasks, deadlines and dependencies
- Demonstrates main concerns and issues such as the lack of resources
- Identifies the relationships among different tasks
- Useful in monitoring progress and identifying possible issues early
Project Planning vs Project Scheduling
While there is a tendency to perceive project planning and project scheduling as a rather similar process, there are clear differences among both . In fact, project scheduling can be considered to be part of the larger and more comprehensive process of project planning. More specifically, project planning as a general document encompasses all the relevant aspects of a project such as budget, goals, organisation and project schedule itself. On the other hand, project scheduling generally tends to be more focused on the proper handling of project activities.
Furthermore, a project plan is considered as the “master blueprint” of a project while project scheduling represents the specific details of particular activities. Project scheduling happens only after there is a clear understanding of the project plan. In addition to this, while the project plan is perceived as rather stable, the project scheduling process is much more fluid. This means that changes in the project plan are rather rare, but the schedule can be rescheduled as many times as necessary. Project planning can be put in a rather simple word process document, but project scheduling tends to be completed using much more complicated software.
Project Planning and Project Scheduling Examples
Project scheduling example.
Project Planning Example
Which comes first planning or scheduling?
Project scheduling generally comes after there has been a general agreement over the project plan.
What are the basic principles of project scheduling?
The basic principles of scheduling involve: define the scope, develop milestones and dependencies between tasks, assign resources for task completion and then follow up with regular reporting for progress monitoring and to ensure that the plan is on track.
How do you create a project plan?
The project plan is completed by listing the following elements: Executive Summary, Policy and Procedures. Schedules, Timeline plans and Budgets.
How do you create a project schedule?
The following are included in the project schedule: Deliverables; Tasks; Task start and end dates; Task dependencies; Project Calendar; Work Packages; Task duration and project timeline; Budgets; Resource availability; Schedule risk analysis.
How important are project planning and scheduling?
Project planning sets the main goals for the entire project completion while project scheduling ensures the right implementation of project activities.
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What are the key differences between Project Planning vs. Scheduling?
- September 18, 2020
- Shohreh Ghorbani
Project planning vs. scheduling- are they the same?
You might have heard the role of Planner/Scheduler in a project. Does it mean that Planners & Schedulers do the same work?
Are “Planning” and “Scheduling” the same terms?
If not, what are the key differences between Project Planning vs. Scheduling?
Check this video by Dr. Saleh Mubarak , the author of “Construction Project Scheduling and Control” to figure out the distinction between “Planning” and “Scheduling”.
Download the free audio mp3 podcast of this episode on iTunes .
Note: This video is a sneak peek of the presentation on “ Project Scheduling for the Owners ”, presented by Dr. Saleh Mubarak at the 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟬𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗷𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗖𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗿𝗼𝗹𝗦𝘂𝗺𝗺𝗶𝘁.
To get access to the full presentation and other recordings of the Project Control Summit, please click here.
[The following is the full transcript of the video, featuring the speaker unscripted and unedited]
Is planning and scheduling the same?
No, they’re not.
I’ve seen people call the scheduler, planner, and sometimes they call the “schedule”, “the plan”. Sometimes they call it the program (program, as spelled in the UK), but I want to make sure that scheduling is not planning although they complement each other.
Scheduling is part of the planning.
Project Scheduling is the determination of the timing and sequence of operations in the project and their assembly to give the project overall completion time
Timing is saying that we’re going to install the windows between April 11 and April 17.
Sequence is we want to install the windows after the window opening is framed and after windows have been delivered.
Project planning is the comprehensive process of thinking of and preparing for the activities and actions needed to successfully complete a project. This includes, but not limited to:
- defining scope and constraints,
- performing feasibility studies (financial, legal, and other),
- comparing alternative designs,
- choosing the best contract type and delivery method,
- and preparing for the management of the execution.
Project Planning vs. Scheduling
Here’s the relationship between planning and scheduling:
The plan tells you “what”, “where”, “who”, “whose” and so on.
The concept maybe not be in detail, but just an idea. What is included in the plan is the project timeframe (start/finish, perhaps with important milestones) without the details.
So we say the project is going to be probably starting this October and it will take 18 months. From here, the scheduling comes to break the project down into 2000 activities for example along with their durations and sequence to make sure that the project finishes on time.
Interested in having deep-dive training on Project Scheduling?
About the Presenter, Dr. Saleh Mubarak
He obtained his Ph.D. in civil engineering, specialized in Construction Project Management.
He has over 30 years of diversified industrial and academic experience. He has worked in the private and public sectors, both in the U.S. and internationally. Positions he held include project engineer/manager, cost estimator, planner/scheduler, project controls manager, cost manager, and training manager.
He also served as the faculty member/professor, and head of the department.
He has extensive experience in continuing education and professional training around the world. Topics are mainly technical but also include soft skills. Have been doing a lot of volunteer presentations and training in professional conferences such as PMI, AACE International as well as many local, regional, and international events.
He is the author of “Construction Project Scheduling and Control “and “How to Estimate with Means Data: Basic Skills for Building Construction”. Dr. Mubarak is not only an authority on project planning, scheduling, and project control but also is an advocate of holistic healthy living.
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Guide to Project Scheduling
What is project scheduling?
What’s the difference between a project schedule vs a project plan, what are the steps in project scheduling, what are some project scheduling techniques, how do you choose a project scheduling system, learn the basics of creating and managing a project schedule..
Anyone who has ever managed a project knows that you should never use a pen to write the project schedule. With all the moving parts involved, schedule changes are inevitable. In fact, according to a survey by the Project Management Institute [ 1 ] , only 52% of traditionally managed projects were completed on time in 2020.
In this guide, we’ll go over the basics of project scheduling and share tips and techniques to help you stay on top of your project schedules—changes and all.
Project scheduling is the practice of planning, outlining, and managing all of the individual tasks that make up an entire project. It involves plotting out the optimal priority and order of these tasks, managing dependencies, and more. Different project scheduling techniques include critical path, work breakdown structure, Gantt charts, program evaluation and review technique (PERT), and fast tracking and crashing.
While a project schedule and a project plan are similar, there are key differences. To put it simply, a project schedule focuses on the element of time, while a project plan is all encompassing and includes elements like scope, budget, resources, and personnel. In other words, a project schedule can be part of a project plan, but a project plan cannot be part of a project schedule.
Another way to think of the relationship between the project schedule and the project plan is that the project schedule takes the budget, scope, deadlines, and quality requirements from the project plan and converts those into a workable timeline.
While every project is different, there are some basic steps that project teams can follow to ensure a thorough project schedule and increase their chances of project success. Let’s take a look.
/ Project Scheduling Steps
Set project goals. You can’t create a schedule until you define project success. At your project kickoff meeting determine your project deliverables and then you’ll have an endpoint for your schedule.
Determine all project stakeholders and owners. When schedule changes become necessary–and they almost inevitably will–you’ll need to know who “owns” specific tasks and can approve or deny those changes.
Set a final deadline. Once you’ve outlined your goals and you have a project team, you can figure out a realistic final deadline. Remember that it’s better to build in a little extra time and not need it than to continually push back deadlines and alter the schedule.
Outline every single task that makes up the project. You can work backwards from your project goals to identify the tasks necessary to complete those deliverables. For example, if one of your deliverables is to launch a new website, individual tasks might include buying a domain, writing copy, and designing web pages.
Identify dependencies. The project team is responsible for determining which tasks need to be completed before subsequent tasks. For example, you can’t launch your new website until the web page copy has been written. Your project management software will be able to handle these interdependencies once they’ve been established.
Set deadlines for individual tasks and milestones. Similar to step 3, you’ll need to set realistic deadlines for the tasks and milestones that lead up to the final deliverables. You can start by working backwards from the final deadline.
Enter all of this information into your project management system. Once you’ve figured out your goals, individual tasks, and milestones, you can enter all of this information into your project management tool so that it can help your team stay on track and make adjustments as needed.
In the last section, we looked at basic steps that can apply to almost any project. Here, we’ll discuss some project scheduling techniques that can be applied to specific situations to make project scheduling as effective as possible. These techniques are typically programmed into project scheduling software.
As one of the most well-known project scheduling techniques, the critical path method [ 2 ] uses an algorithm to determine the minimum amount of time needed to complete a project based on all required tasks, the time needed to complete those tasks, the dependencies between tasks, and project milestones along the way.
Work breakdown structure
Typically used in conjunction with the critical path method, the work breakdown structure deconstructs bigger tasks and deliverables into manageable components. For example, tuning up a car might be broken down into changing the oil, replacing the spark plugs, topping off all fluids, and inflating the tires.
Invented by mechanical engineer Henry Gantt [ 3 ] in the early 1900s, the Gantt chart is a variation on a bar chart. The Gantt chart displays a project schedule at a glance with all tasks that need to be completed along the vertical axis against a timeline on the horizontal axis.
An example of a basic Gantt chart in Microsoft Project project scheduling software ( Source )
Program evaluation and review technique (PERT)
Developed by the U.S. Navy in the late 1950s [ 4 ] , the PERT technique was created to be used in tandem with the critical path method. PERT analyzes each individual task in order to determine the minimum time needed to complete the entire project.
Fast tracking and crashing
Because no project ever goes exactly as planned, fast tracking and crashing are schedule compression techniques for adjusting a project schedule on the fly. These techniques can help ensure that the project doesn’t go wildy over budget or off deadline. Fast tracking involves working simultaneously on multiple, non-dependent tasks to save time. Crashing involves mobilizing additional resources to complete a task or multiple tasks quicker.
While you could make a basic project schedule using pencil and paper (and lots of erasers), a project management tool can keep track of deadlines, project progress, interdependencies, and more. If budget is an issue, there are free project management tools available.
When you’re ready to explore the best project scheduling tool for your specific needs, check out our 2022 Shortlist of the top 25 project management systems on the market.
2022 Capterra Shortlist for project management software ( Source )
Or, if you want to read more about project scheduling software, check out the following articles:
Top 7 Project Management Tools To Unlock Time and Efficiency in 2022
What Is a Transparent Project Plan & Why Do You Need One?
How To Build and Implement a Project Transparency Plan in 4 Simple Steps
Note: The applications mentioned in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.
Beyond Agility , Project Management Institute
The ABCs of the Critical Path Method , Harvard Business Review
Henry Laurence Gantt , The British Library
Program Evaluation and Review Technique , Wikipedia
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About the author.
Andrew Conrad is a senior content writer at Capterra, covering business intelligence, retail, and construction, among other markets. As a seven-time award winner in the Maryland, Delaware, D.C. and Suburban Newspapers of America editorial contests, Andrew’s work has been featured in the Baltimore Sun and PSFK. He lives in Austin with his wife, son, and their rescue dog, Piper.
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Project Schedule vs Project Plan – If you are new to project management concepts, you may not know the differences between project schedule and project plan because these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. In our training programs, we saw that some PMP aspirants new to project management often do not remember the difference between these two important scheduling concepts. Project Plan and Schedule may sound quite similar to a lot of people. Although each concept plays a role in completing a project on time by meeting key milestones, they refer to two different meanings. In this article, we will clarify the differences between them.
The PMBOK Guide describes the Project Plan as a formal, approved document that is used to guide both project execution and control. Some organizations use the term work plan instead of a project plan.
The project plan is a comprehensive document that involves but not limited to the scope of work, baseline schedule , baseline budget, costs, project expenses, planning assumptions, etc. to facilitate communication among the stakeholders.
What Does a Project Plan Include?
Typically, activities, milestones, resource requirements, major products are detailed and documented in project plans.
In other words, the project plan creates a road map to represent all the details of a project in a sequence from the beginning until the end of the project life cycle .
Simply put a project plan is an essential project document that is used to guide the project, and facilitate communication among the stakeholders.
The project plan answers general questions related to the project such as;
- Why did the organization accept the project?
- What benefit will the organization obtain from the project?
- What are the major deliverables or the products of the project will be?
- Which parties will be involved in the project?
- What is the finish date?
- What are the major project milestones?
- What are the scope, budget, duration, and completion date of the project?
- What kind of technology will be used to perform the tasks?
As it is seen from the questions, the project plan deals with the “what” question related to the project. It provides a general vision for the project.
It is clear that every project needs a project schedule. Without a proper project schedule in place, your project will not achieve its goals in a limited time period. Basically, it details what work will be performed and when.
Resource allocation plans, mobilization plans, equipment plans, and procurement plans rely on project schedules. From this aspect, the project schedule generates a roadmap for other plans and provides dates for the project deliverables.
According to the PMIs PMBOK Guide, a Project Schedule shows “the planned dates for performing activities and the planned dates for meeting milestones.”
A project schedule is a graphic presentation of all activities in a project required to produce the output. Gantt Charts, Network Diagrams, Critical Chain Method , Critical Path Method , and PERT techniques can be used to create the project schedules.
In other words, project schedules show the activities, durations, dependencies, milestones, start and finish dates, calendars, and the critical path in a diagram.
The project schedule is often used along with a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) which divides the project scope into meaningful work packages.
For a better understanding of the project schedule, let’s take a glance at the project scheduling steps.
Project Scheduling Steps
Project Scheduling is the act of determining which activities need to get done and which resources will be assigned to complete these activities in a specific period.
There are some steps to be taken in order to create a serviceable schedule
- Analyze the project scope and create the WBS (Work Breakdown Structure)
- Determine the activities
- Determine the resources
- Estimate the duration of each activity
- Assign the activity relationships
- Assign the resources
- Detail the schedule and analyze
- Monitor and control the schedule
What is the Difference Between Project Plan and Project Schedule?
- A project plan is an extensive document that includes project risks, budget, organization, scope, goals, objectives, and also project schedule. On the other hand, project schedules involve forecasted dates and sequences of the project activities.
- A plan focuses on the entire deliverables and processes. On the other hand, project schedules focus on the project activities, start and finish dates, and dependencies.
- A project schedule alerts the project team about the critical path and potential delays.
- Project schedules are live documents that should be updated and reported regularly.
- A project schedule usually relies on software, methods, and techniques such as Gantt Charts, Network Diagrams, PERT, CPM, etc.
In project management, both Project Plans and Project Schedules are critical documents for a project’s success. Project Plans are comprehensive documents that also include Project Schedules. It guides project execution and control.
On the other hand, a Project Schedule is a graphic presentation of the project activities and activity details. It can be created by using tools such as Gantt Charts, Network Diagrams, CPM, and PERT techniques. You can analyze and check the critical path of the project by using the project schedule.
They are different but interrelated project documents. Therefore, understanding each concept and having knowledge about their usage will help the project managers to manage their projects effectively.
In this article, we discussed the topic; project plan vs project schedule. Note that these are important concepts from a project management point of view.
Are you using work schedules in your projects? If you want to add or share anything regarding the project schedule vs project plan, you can do by using the comments section below.
A dedicated Career Coach, Agile Trainer and certified Senior Portfolio and Project Management Professional and writer holding a bachelor’s degree in Structural Engineering and over 20 years of professional experience in Professional Development / Career Coaching, Portfolio/Program/Project Management, Construction Management, and Business Development. She is the Content Manager of ProjectCubicle.
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Tks Ms. Kathy, I’m junior PM, so I can’t understand what is the different Project Plan and Project Schedule. I’m using work schedule in my some projects: Gantt Chart, PERT technique
As of 6/14/2023, the very top the “project schedule” tab gives the definition for project plan and vice versa.
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- Project Schedules 101: Why You Need The ...
Project Schedules 101: Why You Need Them and How to Make Your Own
It’s harder to lose sight of deadlines and goals when they’re right in front of you. Project schedules map your project tasks on a timeline, so you always know what comes next. In this article, we’ll walk you through the seven steps to create a project schedule and share some of our favorite templates to get you started.
Empowering yourself to create a project schedule with clear plans , processes, and responsibilities is essential to keep your team on track, know who’s doing what by when, and see how all the pieces connect. While it may take some time up front, a well-done project schedule will increase efficiency, accountability, and clarity. And those three words are music to everyone’s ears (especially your boss who entrusted this project to you). You’ll also be able to cut back on the tools that are supposed to help you manage a project but are actually making the process harder.
Your business card may not have the title project manager under your name, but guess what? For this project, and many you’ll encounter in the future, that’s your de facto role. Embrace it! When you learn to think like a project manager, you’ll be on your way to making work work again.
What is a project schedule?
A project schedule provides a general overview of your project, including the timeline, project tasks, dependencies, and assigned team members. Essentially, a project schedule should be able to tell you everything you need to know about your project at first glance. By outlining all the high-level details and components of your project, you can track project progress in real-time and ensure that you’re on track for success.
Connecting the dots of your project schedule
Often, project managers use a work breakdown structure (WBS) to bring the project schedule to life. Work breakdown structures help you coordinate work and assign it to team members. The WBS is a visual hierarchy of your task list, broken down into task dependencies so you can see how each one relates. The first level will have the parent task, the next level would be dependent tasks on those, and so on.
7 steps to create a project schedule
When you begin planning and drafting your project schedule, you want to include all project activities. At first, the project management scheduling process may feel a bit foreign to you—that’s normal! By following these steps, you can get more comfortable creating your own process for project schedule development, and use it every time you plan a project.
Define your project goals. Write down key milestones or deliverables that will make this project successful in the end.
Identify all stakeholders . Make a list of every person that needs to interact with the project team, even if their role is a simple sign-off.
Determine your final deadline. Decide when you need to be completely finished with the project. Be sure to give yourself enough time to account for conflicts or changes that might come up later during schedule management.
List each step or task. Take those milestones and deliverables you defined in the first step and break them down into smaller tasks and subtasks to be sure all bases are covered.
Assign a team member responsible for each task. Decide who will take on each task and subtask, and be transparent with deadlines. Remember that your colleagues likely have other projects going on at the same time. Be mindful of their workload so they don’t feel overloaded.
Work backward to set due dates for each task. Figure out how long each task will take to complete (its start and end date), knowing that delays are inevitable. Sequencing is important to consider as well since certain tasks will need to be finished before another can start.
Organize your project schedule in one tool , and share it with your team.
You’ve successfully built your project plan and now it’s important to organize it in a way that everyone involved can see and work from it. Finding a tool that can help you do both will be critical to your success.
Once you have a detailed project schedule in place, your hands-on project management time will decrease, and you (and your team) will have more hours in the day to spend on quality work.
Using the critical path method to create project schedules
The critical path methodology is designed to help you create a roadmap of the specific tasks that get you from point A (the beginning of the project) to project completion. With the CPM, you identify the most important (critical) tasks, their dependencies, and a timeline for when they need to be completed for the project to be considered successful.
Project schedule examples
Once you’ve followed all of the above steps, you will have a clear schedule that outlines your project’s schedule and steps. Below are a few examples of what these might look like:
Event planning schedule example
Planning a virtual event? Your schedule will map out everything that needs to get done, and when, before your big day.
Product launch schedule example
For your next new product, create a work breakdown structure by mapping out all of your steps and dependencies, then view them in one, easy-to-share project to keep your team on track.
Marketing campaign schedule example
Know exactly what’s going on at any given date in your marketing campaign with a project plan that schedules out every piece:
How is a project schedule used in project management?
Your project schedule impacts project execution. During project management, you can use your project schedule to ensure that you’re hitting key deadlines and staying on track. Project schedules also help inform project management processes and planning, including:
Project scope : By defining your project scope, you can ensure that you have the proper resource allocation for a certain project—such as time, budget, and staffing. You can then apply your scope to your project schedule to help you determine the timeline.
Resource management : Part of project management is ensuring that you have the resource availability to get from the start date to the finish date. Your project schedule will help you stay on deadline, preventing scope creep that can lead to potential overspending and overworking the team.
Next steps after you complete your project schedule
The purpose of a project timeline is to get more work done, more efficiently. Seeing the overall picture of your project and creating a well-thought-out plan means less stress and more productivity. Once you’ve completed your plan, there are two more essential steps to take.
Share it with your team
By sharing your project schedule, team members will clearly understand their responsibilities for the project and have an avenue to give insights on their pieces of the plan. Start by sending the project schedule to everyone involved and ask for specific feedback (questions, concerns, or ideas).
Stay organized by offering a central location to deliver all responses and give a firm deadline to promote timely action from team members. Once you’ve collected all feedback, create an updated version of the project schedule and re-share it with all stakeholders. Additionally, make sure your project schedule is included in all of your important project planning documentation, like your project brief and executive summary .
Adapt it as you go
The only constant is change. That goes for your project plan as well. Once you’ve kicked off the project, make sure you’re checking on your schedule consistently. Build out a change management plan , so you can adapt your schedule when unforeseen circumstances arise.
Managing your project schedule, and all project assets, in a central location will help everyone have a single source of truth and ensure the most updated version of the project schedule is being used.
Improve efficiency: Turn your plans and schedules into templates
To save even more time planning projects, use a proven template and stop reinventing the wheel every time you press “Go” on a new project.
If your current project is an annual event—say, a vendor expo—then it’s a no-brainer to get a solid project schedule in place now, so you can build off it for the next one. And what other projects do you work on that go through the same process each time? For example, your vendor expo might share comparable tasks with the virtual client luncheon you are hosting later this year. Having a project schedule template means you’ll be able to launch future projects faster and more efficiently.
Bringing your project schedule to life
It's one thing to map out your project timeline—but it's another to visualize that work in real-time. You've put in all of this time and effort into creating a project schedule, but the final step is using a tool to share it with your team.
With a project scheduling tools , you can map out your entire project schedule in visual Gantt-chart like timelines , Kanban boards , or project calendars . Developing and managing your project schedule in a centralized system allows you to create each step and determine its duration with a project calendar , build tasks and subtasks, and assign them to the appropriate person.
As you need to adjust your project plan, you can quickly make changes in your project management software and all stakeholders will be notified. This gives your team clear visibility at all stages of the project workflow, on what’s happening and when. Ultimately, this helps you connect project deliverables with associated initiatives and reduce potential bottlenecks by keeping your whole project life cycle in view.
Work smarter, with project schedules
Project schedules keep you organized and on track—something every project manager (and their teams) can get behind.
You can do all of the above (and more) with a work management solution like Asana . It’s your all-in-one project scheduling software, with built in task management that allows you to do so much more with every project.
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Project Schedule - Definition and Main Components
Most of the time, project managers become people who never planned to enter this field because they are hardworking, organized, and good at their jobs. A leap from doing your schedule to scheduling everything for the entire project can be highly challenging during these sudden shifts.
With the help of a project schedule, work can be less stressful and more productive. That's why we developed a simple guide that can help you boost your knowledge, enhance your capabilities, focus on project scheduling techniques, and create an outstanding project schedule.
What Is the Project Schedule?
The project schedule is a vital component of project management. It is a detailed plan that outlines all the tasks, activities, and deliverables required to complete a project within a specific timeframe. Creating and maintaining an accurate project schedule is crucial in ensuring project success as a project manager.
A well-defined schedule for a project allows you to allocate resources, monitor progress, identify potential risks and challenges, and make necessary adjustments to keep the project on track. It also enables team members to understand their roles and responsibilities clearly and promotes effective communication and collaboration throughout the project lifecycle.
Main Components of a Project Schedule
The main components of a project schedule are crucial for effective project management:
- The task list identifies all the work required to complete the project.
- Task dependencies define the relationships between tasks and help ensure they are completed in the correct order.
- Accurate time estimates are crucial for developing a realistic schedule, and resource allocation ensure that the right people and resources are available when needed.
- Project milestones mark significant achievements and provide a sense of progress toward completion.
- At the same time, the critical path identifies the sequence of tasks that must be completed on time to prevent delays.
- A Gantt chart provides an overview of the project schedule, showing each task's start and end dates, duration, and progress.
- Baselines are established to track progress and measure performance against the original project plan.
Purpose and Main Goals of a Project Schedule
The purpose of a project schedule is to provide a roadmap that outlines all the tasks, activities, and deliverables required to complete a project within a specific timeframe.
This includes the following activities: to plan, monitor, and control the time aspect of a project and ensure the project is completed on time by defining when each task should start and finish.
On the other hand, the main goals of a project schedule are to ensure that the project is delivered on time, within budget, and to the desired quality standards. Strictly speaking, it means effectively managing time and meeting project deadlines, coordinating tasks and resources for efficient project execution, and providing a baseline for tracking progress and making informed decisions.
How to Create a Project Schedule?
Developing a project schedule includes the following steps:
- Define the project's scope and identify all the required tasks and subtasks.
- Organize the tasks into a work breakdown structure (WBS) for a clear hierarchy of deliverables.
- Define task dependencies and durations, taking into account potential roadblocks or risks.
- Allocate resources to each task and incorporate contingency plans for unexpected issues.
- Establish milestones to mark significant achievements throughout the project.
- Track progress against the critical path, identifying the tasks that must be completed on time to prevent delays.
- Create a Gantt chart to provide an overview of the project schedule.
- Establish baselines to measure performance and track progress.
Scheduling Tools in Project Management
Several scheduling software tools available in project management can help project managers create, manage, and track project time schedules.
Project Management Software for Creating a Project Schedule
Project management software is essential for creating, managing, and monitoring a project's schedule. With the help of these software tools, project managers can easily track progress, allocate resources, identify dependencies, and monitor project timelines.
Project management software often includes features such as Gantt charts, task tracking, resource allocation, budget management, and team collaboration tools, providing an all-in-one solution for project scheduling. Good project management software can improve productivity, streamline communication, and reduce errors in schedule management.
Project Schedule Example
ActiveCollab offers project managers a fantastic opportunity to schedule their projects quickly and efficiently. Here is an example of how you can do it.
Project Name: Website Redesign
- Develop website wireframes (Duration: 7 days)
- Design website mockups (Duration: 14 days)
- Review and approve website mockups (Duration: 3 days)
- Development phase 1 (Duration: 21 days)
- Development phase 2 (Duration: 21 days)
- Quality assurance testing (Duration: 7 days)
- Client review and approval (Duration: 5 days)
- Launch website (Duration: 1 day)
- Design website mockups cannot begin until website wireframes are completed.
- Development phase 2 cannot begin until development phase 1 is completed.
- Quality assurance testing cannot begin until development is completed.
- Client review and approval cannot begin until quality assurance testing is completed.
- The design team (2 designers)
- Development team (4 developers)
- Quality assurance (1 tester)
- Website wireframes completed (Day 7)
- Website mockups completed and approved (Day 24)
- Development completed (Day 66)
- Quality assurance testing completed (Day 73)
- Client review and approval completed (Day 78)
- Website launched (Day 79)
Monitoring and Adjusting the Project Schedule
Monitoring and adjusting the project schedule is critical for project managers to ensure that the project stays on track and is delivered successfully. Here are the key steps in this process:
- Establish baseline schedule
- Review progress regularly and check schedule variance
- Compare actual progress to the baseline schedule
- Identify risks and hurdles
- Adjust the schedule if necessary
- Communicate changes to stakeholders
- Measure success and quality
Benefits of a Well-Planned Project Schedule
A well-planned project schedule and portfolio management offer several benefits to project managers and their teams.
Improved Planning and Time Management
A well-planned project schedule helps project managers to organize and prioritize tasks, improve planning and time management.
Efficient Resource Allocation
With a clear project schedule in place, resources can be allocated effectively. This includes staff, equipment, and budget.
A project schedule enables early risk identification and mitigation. A well-planned project schedule allows project managers to identify potential issues before they become problems.
Enhanced Communication and Stakeholder Engagement
The schedule of a project promotes effective communication and stakeholder engagement.
Tracking and Control
Project schedules allow tracking and control throughout the lifecycle of a project.
Successful Project Delivery
A great schedule or a project can provide project teams with successful project delivery.
Common Challenges in Project Scheduling and How to Overcome Them
Project scheduling is a challenging task that requires careful planning, attention to detail, and effective communication. Here are some common challenges in project time scheduling and how to overcome them:
One of the most common challenges in project time scheduling is unrealistic timeframes set by stakeholders or executives. To overcome this challenge, project managers must engage with stakeholders early on in the project and provide realistic estimates for how long each phase will take. It's important to be transparent and avoid making promises that cannot be kept. Use historical data and industry benchmarks to support your estimates.
Inadequate Resource Allocation
Another common challenge is inadequate resource allocation. Project managers must ensure that they have the right people with the necessary skills to complete each task in the project schedule on time. Therefore, project managers should work closely with HR and department heads to ensure the required resources are available throughout the project lifecycle. They must also prioritize and allocate resources effectively to tasks critical to the project.
Scope creep refers to additional requirements or changes outside the original project scope. It can cause delays and increase costs, making it a significant challenge for project scheduling. For that very reason, project managers must review the scope with stakeholders regularly and continuously communicate the impact of any changes on the project timeline, budget, and resources. This can help to manage expectations and minimize the risk of scope creep.
Effective communication is key to successful project scheduling. Communication gaps between team members, stakeholders, and project managers can lead to misunderstandings and delays. To bypass this challenge, project managers must foster open communication channels and encourage regular check-ins between team members and stakeholders. Use project management software or tools to facilitate transparent communication, document-sharing, and real-time updates.
Dealing With Unforeseen Risks and Changes
Unforeseen risks and changes are an inevitable part of project scheduling. That's why project managers must proactively plan for potential risks or changes early in the project lifecycle using risk management techniques and contingency planning. It's essential to stay flexible and have a strong change management process that enables team members and stakeholders to raise concerns or suggest changes as early as possible.
Importance of the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) In Project Scheduling
The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a critical component of project scheduling. It breaks down the project into smaller, more manageable tasks, which can be scheduled and tracked more effectively. Here are some reasons why the WBS is important in project scheduling:
- Provides a clear roadmap
- Enables effective resource allocation
- Facilitates accurate time and cost estimates
- Helps to manage scope and risk
- Improves communication and collaboration
Project Schedule vs. Project Plan
A project schedule and a project plan are important components in managing a project, but they serve different purposes.
A project plan is a comprehensive document that lays out the entire project from start to finish, including goals, timelines, budgets, resources, risks, and deliverables. It outlines the project's overall strategy, approach, and objectives and serves as a road map for the project team to follow. A project plan is typically created at the beginning of a project and is used to guide the team throughout the project's lifecycle while focusing on project planning.
On the other hand, a project schedule is a detailed timeline that outlines specific tasks, activities, and milestones within the project plan. It provides a more granular view of the project and helps the team to understand what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and who is responsible for doing it. A project schedule is a living document updated regularly to reflect actual progress and any changes or adjustments to the project plan.
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Project Planning: How to Make a Project Plan
This guide is brought to you by projectmanager, the project planning software trusted by 35,000+ users worldwide. make a project plan in minutes.
What Is a Project Plan?
How to create a project plan, project planning phase, what is project planning software, benefits of online project planning software, must-have project planning software features, project planning terms, project planning steps, how to create a project plan with projectmanager, what is the purpose of a project management plan, the elements of a project plan, how long does the project planning phase take, techniques for the project planning process, how to manage your project plan.
A project plan is a series of formal documents that define the execution and control stages of a project. The plan includes considerations for risk management, resource management and communications, while also addressing scope, cost and schedule baselines. Project planning software is used by project managers to ensure that their plans are thorough and robust.
ProjectManager allows you to make detailed project plans with online Gantt charts that schedule task dependencies, resource hours, labor costs, milestones and more. Plus, your team can execute the plan in any of our five project views, while you track progress along the way with dashboards. Start today for free.
The project plan, also called project management plan, answers the who, what, where, why, how and when of the project—it’s more than a Gantt chart with tasks and due dates. The purpose of a project plan is to guide the execution and control project phases.
As mentioned above, a project plan consists of the following documents:
- Project Charter : Provides a general overview of the project. It describes the project’s reasons, goals, objectives, constraints, stakeholders, among other aspects.
- Statement of Work : A statement of work (SOW) defines the project’s scope, schedule, deliverables, milestones, and tasks.
- Work Breakdown Structure : Breaks down the project scope into the project phases, subprojects, deliverables, and work packages that lead to your final deliverable.
- Project Plan : The project plan document is divided in sections to cover the following: scope management, quality management, risk assessment, resource management, stakeholder management, schedule management and the change management plan.
This guide aims to give you all the information and resources you need to create a project plan and get it approved by your customers and stakeholders. Let’s start with the basics of writing a project plan.
Get your free
Project Plan Template
Use this free Project Plan Template for Word to manage your projects better.
Your project plan is essential to the success of any project. Without one, your project may be susceptible to common project management issues such as missed deadlines, scope creep and cost overrun. While writing a project plan is somewhat labor intensive up front, the effort will pay dividends throughout the project life cycle.
The basic outline of any project plan can be summarized in these five steps:
- Define your project’s stakeholders, scope, quality baseline, deliverables, milestones, success criteria and requirements. Create a project charter, work breakdown structure (WBS) and a statement of work (SOW) .
- Identify risks and assign deliverables to your team members, who will perform the tasks required and monitor the risks associated with them.
- Organize your project team (customers, stakeholders, teams, ad hoc members, and so on), and define their roles and responsibilities.
- List the necessary project resources , such as personnel, equipment, salaries, and materials, then estimate their cost.
- Develop change management procedures and forms.
- Create a communication plan , schedule, budget and other guiding documents for the project.
Each of the steps to write a project plan explained above correspond to the 5 project phases, which we will outline in the next section.
What Are the 5 Phases of the Project Life Cycle?
Any project , whether big or small, has the potential to be very complex. It’s much easier to break down all the necessary inclusions for a project plan by viewing your project in terms of phases. The Project Management Institute , within the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), have identified the following 5 phases of a project:
- Initiation: The start of a project, in which goals and objectives are defined through a business case and the practicality of the project is determined by a feasibility study.
- Planning: During the project planning phase, the scope of the project is defined by a work breakdown structure (WBS) and the project methodology to manage the project is decided on. Costs, quality and resources are estimated, and a project schedule with milestones and task dependencies is identified. The main deliverable of this phase is your project plan.
- Execution: The project deliverables are completed during this phase. Usually, this phase begins with a kick-off meeting and is followed by regular team meetings and status reports while the project is being worked on.
- Monitoring & Controlling: This phase is performed in tandem with the project execution phase. Progress and performance metrics are measured to keep progress on the project aligned with the project plan.
- Closure: The project is completed when the stakeholder receives the final deliverable. Resources are released, contracts are signed off on and, ideally, there will be an evaluation of the successes and failures.
Free Project Plan Template
Address all aspects of your project plan with this free project plan template for Word . This in-depth template will guide you through every phase of the project, as well as all the elements you need to outline for a proper document. Download your template today.
Now that we’ve learned how to make a project plan, and identified the stages of the project management life cycle, we need to emphasize on the importance of the project planning phase.
The project planning process is critical for any kind of project because this is where you create all the documents that will guide how you’ll execute your project plan and how you’ll control risks and any issues that might occur. These documents, which are part of the project management plan, cover all the details of your project without exception.
There are project plan templates out there that can help you organize your tasks and begin the project planning process—but we here at ProjectManager recommend the use of project planning software. The feature set is far more robust and integrated with every project phase compared to an Excel project plan template, and is a great way to ensure your actual progress stays aligned with your planned progress.
Once you write a project plan, it’s time for implementation . Watch the video below to see how project planning software helps organize a project’s tasks, resources and costs.
Project planning tools has become an invaluable tool for project managers in recent years, as it provides them the ability to maintain and automate the components we outlined above. Project planning software is a great tool to facilitate project management processes such as schedule development, team management, cost estimation, resource allocation and risk monitoring.
Beyond that, planning software also allows managers to monitor and track their plan as it moves through the execution phase of the project. These features include dashboards, for a high-level view of the project’s progress and performance, and in-depth reports that can be used to communicate with stakeholders.
Project planning software comes in all different sizes and shapes. There are some that focus on a single aspect, and others that offer a suite of planning features that can be used in each one of the project planning steps. What’s right for your project depends on your specific needs, but in general terms, project planning software is a much more powerful tool than project planning templates .
Related: 20 Must-Have Project Management Excel Templates
Online project planning software is highly flexible and adaptable to your team’s style of work. It has features that are designed to assist you throughout your project planning process.
Before the rise of planning software, project managers would typically have to keep up with a disjointed collection of documents, excel spreadsheets and so on. Savvy managers, however, make use of the project management tools available to them to automate what they can, and streamline what they can’t.
Some of the time-saving benefits of project planning software include the following.
- Organize, prioritize and assign tasks
- Plan and schedule milestones and task dependencies
- Monitor progress, costs and resources
- Collaborate with team
- Share project plans with team and stakeholders
- Generate reports on plans
Gantt Charts for Superior Planning
A Gantt chart is the most essential tool for the project planning process. Organize tasks, add their duration and they automatically populate a project timeline . Set milestones to break the larger project into manageable phases, and link task dependencies to avoid bottlenecks later in the project.
Get More Than a To-Do List
When planning a project, you need more than a to-do list. Seek out a planning software with a task list feature that lets you set priority levels, filters and collaborate. It’s a big plus if you can also make personal task lists that are private to manage your own work.
Use Kanban for Workflows
Workflows ensure proper execution of your plan, and no feature does this better than kanban boards. Customize boards to match your workflow and drag and drop cards as teams get their work done. See what work needs to be done and keep the focus on productivity with this feature.
Be Able to Track Progress
A dashboard can keep your project plan on track. Try and find a dashboard that’s synced with your planning tools, so everything updates automatically. It will make reporting easier too.
Get Transparency Into Teams
For a plan to go smoothly, you have to know what your team is working on. Find a way to balance your team’s availability with the project schedule. Workload features that map out resource allocation and holidays can be a big help here.
Be Able to Manage Multiple Projects
Rarely do you need to only focus on one project at a time. Give yourself the flexibility to manage multiple projects at once in the same tool. A roadmap feature that maps all of your projects on one timeline can be a lifesaver.
Before we dive into how to create a project plan, it helps to be familiar with some of the terms that you’ll run across. Here is a list of general terms you’ll encounter in this guide.
- Deliverable: The results of a project, such as a product, service, report, etc.
- Stakeholder: Anyone with a vested interest in the project—project manager, project sponsor, team members, customers, etc.
- Tasks: Small jobs that lead to the final deliverable.
- Milestone: The end of one project phase, and the beginning of the next.
- Resources: Anything you need to complete the project, such as personnel, supplies, materials, tools, people and more.
- Budget: Estimate of total cost related to completing a project.
- Tracking & Monitoring: Collecting project data, and making sure it reflects the results you planned for.
The project planning process is critical for the success of your project, and as a project manager, you have to think about all the elements that make up your project management plan such as work, time, resources and risks.
Now, we’re going to take you through the main project planning steps :
- Outline the business case
- Meet with key stakeholders
- Define project scope
- Assemble a project team
- Determine a project budget
- Set project goals & objectives
- Outline project deliverables
- Create a project schedule
- Assign tasks to your team members
- Do a risk analysis
- Create your project plan
- Report your progress
By following these project planning steps, you’ll clarify what you need to achieve, work out the processes you need to get there and develop an action plan for how you are going to take this project plan outline forward.
1. Outline the Business Case
If you have a project, there’s a reason for it—that’s your business case . The business case outlines reasons why the project is being initiated, its benefits and the return on investment. If there’s a problem that is being solved, then that problem is outlined here. The business case will be presented to those who make decisions at your organization, explaining what has to be done, and how, along with a feasibility study to assess the practicality of the project. If approved, you have a project.
2. Meet with Key Stakeholders
Every project has stakeholders , those who have a vested interest in the project. From the ones who profit from it, to the project team members who are responsible for its success. Therefore, any project manager must identify who these key stakeholders are during the project planning process, from customers to regulators. Meeting with them is crucial to get a better picture of what the project management plan should include and what is expected from the final deliverable.
3. Define Project Scope
It refers to the work required to accomplish the project objectives and generate the required deliverables. The project scope should be defined and organized by a work breakdown structure (WBS). Therefore, the project scope includes what you must do in the project (deliverables, sub deliverables, work packages, action items ), but also what is nonessential. The latter is important for the project plan, because knowing what isn’t high priority helps to avoid scope creep ; that is, using valuable resources for something that isn’t key to your project’s success.
4. Assemble a Project Team
You’ll need a capable project team to help you create your project plan and execute it successfully. It’s advisable to gather a diverse group of experienced professionals to build a multi-disciplinary team that sees your project management plan from different perspectives.
5. Determine a Project Budget
Once you define your project scope, you’ll have a task list that must be completed to deliver your project successfully. To do so, you’ll need resources such as equipment, materials, human capital, and of course, money. Your project budget will pay for all this. The first step to create a project budget is to estimate the costs associated with each task. Once you have those estimated costs, you can establish a cost baseline , which is the base for your project budget.
6. Set Project Goals & Objectives
Goals and objectives are different things when it comes to planning a project. Goals are the results you want to achieve, and are usually broad. Objectives , on the other hand, are more specific; measurable actions that must be taken to reach your goal. When creating a project plan, the goals and objectives naturally spring from the business case, but in this stage, you go into further detail. In a sense, you’re fine-tuning the goals set forth in the business case and creating tasks that are clearly defined. These goals and objectives are collected in a project charter , which you’ll use throughout the project life cycle.
7. Outline Project Deliverables
A project can have numerous deliverables. A deliverable can be a good, service or result that is needed to complete a task, process, phase, subproject or project. For example, the final deliverable is the reason for the project, and once this deliverable is produced, the project is completed. As defined in the project scope, a project consists of subprojects, phases, work packages, activities and tasks, and each of these components can have a deliverable. The first thing to do is determine what the final deliverable is, and how you will know that the quality meets your stakeholder’s expectations. As for the other deliverables in the project, they must also be identified and someone on the team must be accountable for their successful completion.
8. Create a Project Schedule
The project schedule is what everything hangs on. From your tasks to your budget , it’s all defined by time. Schedules are made up by collecting all the tasks needed to reach your final deliverable, and setting them on a project timeline that ends at your deadline. This can make for an unruly job ahead, which is why schedules are broken into phases, indicated by milestones , which mark the end of one project phase and the beginning of the next.
9. Assign Tasks to Your Team Members
The plan is set, but it still exists in the abstract until you take the tasks on your schedule and begin assigning them out to your team members. Their roles and responsibilities must be clearly defined, so they know what to do. Then, when you assign them tasks from your plan, they should be clear, with directions and any related documentation they will need to execute the tasks.
10. Do a Risk Analysis
Every project has some level of risk . There are several types of risk such as scope risk, technical risks and schedule risk, among others. Even if your project plan is thorough, internal and external factors can impact your project’s time, cost and scope (triple constraint). Therefore, you need to regard your planning as flexible. There are many ways to prepare for risk, such as developing a change management plan, but for now, the most important thing to do is to track your progress throughout the execution phase by using project status reports and/or project planning software to monitor risk.
11. Create your Project Plan
As discussed above, a project management plan is a document that’s made of several elements. Before we get into a detailed explanation of each of them, it’s important to understand that you should include them all to have a solid project plan. The components that you’ll need might vary depending on your project, but in general terms, you’ll need these main documents to create your project management plan:
- Project charter
- Project schedule
- Project budget
- Project scope statement
- Risk management plan
- Change management plan
- Cost management plan
- Resource management plan
- Stakeholder management plan
12. Report Your Progress
Your ultimate goal is to ensure a successful project for your stakeholders. They’re invested, and will not be satisfied twiddling their thumbs without looking at project status reports to track progress. By constructing a work breakdown structure (WBS) during the project planning phase you can break down the project for them so that they understand how your project plan will be executed. Keeping stakeholders informed is important to manage their expectations and ensure that they’re satisfied. Having regular planning meetings where you present progress reports are a great way to show them that everything is moving forward as planned and to field any questions or concerns they might have. Your stakeholder management plan will specify how you’ll engage stakeholders in the project.
Project planning software is a tool that helps to plan, organize and manage the schedule and resources needed to complete a project. ProjectManager is an award-winning project management software that organizes projects from planning to completion. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and follow along to build a thorough project plan that covers every detail.
1. List Your Tasks for the Plan
Tasks are the building blocks of any project and the start of any plan is identifying all the tasks that lead to your final deliverable.
Open the tool to add your tasks on the Gantt chart or one of the other multiple project views. You can import a task list from any spreadsheet or use one of our templates to get started.
2. Add Duration and Costs to Tasks
Every task has an estimated duration, which is the time it will take to complete it. They will also require a certain amount of funding, which needs to be collected to formulate your plan.
Add the start and end dates for each task in the Gantt and they populate a project timeline, so you can see the whole project laid out in one place. There’s also a column for task costs.
3. Link Dependent Tasks
Tasks are not always separate from one another. Often one cannot start or stop until another has started or stopped. That’s called a task dependency and needs to be noted in your plan.
Link dependent tasks by dragging one to the other. A dotted line indicates that they’re linked, so you stay aware of the fact and can avoid bottlenecks later in the project.
4. Set Milestones & Baseline
A milestone indicates the end of one phase and the beginning of another, which helps with tracking and morale. The baseline sets your plan so you can compare it to actual progress.
There is a filter on the Gantt that automatically sets the baseline, so you can use it to track your actual progress against the plan. The baseline can also be locked with a click.
5. Onboard Team & Assign
Getting the team and the tool together is how a project plan becomes actualized. The easier and seamless this transition, the faster you’ll get to work on the project.
Invite your team from the software and it generates an email with a link. Once they follow that link, they’re in and have access to the tools they need to manage their tasks.
6. Monitor Progress & Report to Stakeholders
Keeping track of your progress and then updating stakeholders is both how you stay on track and manage your stakeholders’ expectations.
See progress as it happens on our real-time dashboard, which calculates data and displays it over six project metrics. Reports can be filtered and shared for a deep dive into those numbers.
7. Adjust Plan As Needed
No plan remains the same throughout a project. Things happen and changes are demanded. Therefore, being able to edit your plan easily is key to the project planning process.
Edit your plan on the Gantt by a simple drag and drop. Move the old date to the new date and not only is that task fixed, but any impacted tasks are also updated automatically.
ProjectManager is an award-winning software that helps managers plan and helps teams get organized. Gantt charts control all aspects of your project plan from scheduling to assigning tasks and even monitoring progress. Multiple project views provide transparency into workflow and give everyone the tools they need to be at their best.
Ready to make your plan? Try ProjectManager today with this free 30-day trial.
The project manager is responsible for producing the project plan, and while you can’t make up all the content yourself, you’ll be the one banging the keys to type it all out. Use templates where you can to save time. Download our free project plan template and write your plan in double-quick time!
The purpose of a project management plan is to serve as a guide for the execution and control phases. The project plan provides all the information necessary for the execution phase such as the project’s goals, objectives, scope of work, milestones, risks and resources. Then, this information helps project managers monitor and control the progress of the project.
We plan at the beginning to save time later. A good project plan means that you don’t have to worry about whether the project participants are going to be available on the right dates—because you’ve planned for them to be. You don’t have to worry about how to pay those invoices—you’ve planned your financial process. You don’t have to worry about whether everyone agrees on what a quality outcome looks like—you’ve already planned what quality measures you are going to use.
A good project plan sets out the processes that everyone is expected to follow, so it avoids a lot of headaches later. For example, if you specify that estimates are going to be worked out by subject matter experts based on their judgement, and that’s approved, later no one can complain that they wanted you to use a different estimating technique. They’ve known the deal since the start.
Project plans are also really helpful for monitoring progress. You can go back to them and check what you said you were going to do and how, comparing it to what you are actually doing. This gives you a good reality check and enables you to change course if you need to, bringing the project back on track.
Tools like dashboards can help you make sure that your project is proceeding according to plan. ProjectManager has a real-time dashboard that updates automatically whenever tasks are updated.
The project planning process already discussed only scratches the surface of what is a deep well of practices created to control your project. They start with dialogue — speaking to stakeholders, teams, et al.
The deliverable for your planning phase is a document called the project plan. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) – Fifth Edition says that the project plan is made up of lots of subsidiary plans. These include:
- A project scope statement to define all the tasks and deliverables that are needed to complete the project
- A risk management plan for dealing with project risk including the processes for logging and tracking risks
- A change management plan to manage any changes that will be made to the project plan
- A cost management plan for managing costs and the budgeting elements of the project including any procurements or supplier engagements you might have
- A resource management plan for managing the material resources such as equipment and the human resources on the team both in terms of availability and skills
- A stakeholder management plan setting out who is going to receive messages about the project, when and in what format
- A quality plan that specifies the quality targets for the project
That’s a lot of documentation.
In reality, it’s rare that you’ll produce these as individual documents. What you need is a project plan that talks about the important elements of each of these. There’s no point creating a big document that sets out exactly how your business works anyway. If you already have a structured risk management process , then don’t waste time writing it all down again in your project plan.
Your project management plan needs to include enough information to make sure that you know exactly what processes and procedures need to be followed and who needs to be involved. Get your project plan approved by your stakeholders, your project sponsor and your team so there are no surprises later. As explained above, project planning charts and techniques such as Gantt charts, CPM, WBS or PERT can help you create your project plan.
This is hard to answer. It’s going to take longer to plan the moon landing than a new dating app.
The best way to estimate how long your project planning phase will take is to look at similar projects that have happened before, and see how long it took them to plan. Talk to the project manager as well, if you can, because they’ll have a view on whether that length of time was enough or not!
It’s easy to see how long other projects took if you have a project management tool that archives your old project schedules and makes the data available to everyone who needs it. You can then search for similar projects and study their schedules in detail.
A project plan is all about working out what to do and how to do it, so you need to get a lot of people involved. There are several good tools and project planning techniques for getting information from other people including:
- One-to-one meetings or interviews
- Surveys or customer focus groups to gather and validate requirements.
You should also arm yourself with a task management tool , like a list or a kanban board. They are incredibly useful for noting down important things that should be in your project plan. Kanban board software can help structure your plan by writing down the key headings and then moving them around as required until you have a flow that looks right.
Finally, you’ll need an online project management system to store your project management plan in. Make sure that everyone in the team can access the latest version of the project plan.
Your project plan is not a document written in stone. You should be referring back to it and making changes to it as often as you need to. Parts of it, like your project schedule, will change almost daily. Other parts, like your procurement plans and cost management processes, won’t change at all during the life of your project.
The important thing to remember is that if your project management plan isn’t working for you, think about what you can do to change it. It’s there to guide your project management, not restrict you from doing the right thing. If you need to review how you manage work and project resources, then go back and review it. Make the changes you need, get the plan approved again and share it with the team.
How To Make a Project Plan When You Don’t Have All the Answers
Yes, this happens–most of the time! It’s rare to have all the information at the beginning of a project. Most managers want you to dive in and get started, but you might not have the luxury of knowing all the details.
That’s OK; we have techniques to help deal with uncertainty.
First is the project assumption. You use these to put caveats on your plan and to document the things that you assume to be true at this point in time. For example:
- We assume that the resources will be available.
- We assume that the required funding is available.
- We assume that the colors requested will be in line with the company brand and that Marketing sign off is not required.
You get the picture. Then, if the design team comes back and says that they want the product to be a totally new palette of colors and that Marketing has to approve that, you are justified in saying that you’ll have to change the timescales on the schedule to make that possible.
You planned based on an assumption (that everyone agreed to, because you got the document approved) and that assumption turned out not to be true.
Next Steps for Project Planning
The most important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t rush the project planning process. Done properly, project planning takes time. And it’s worth doing it properly because if you don’t, we guarantee that you will hit problems later on as people won’t understand what they are supposed to do and why.
Great planning sets you up for success. It gives you the confidence of knowing that you’ve got all your processes, tools and systems in place to deliver the perfect result.
Now that you’ve learned all about project planning, it’s time to take action. Sign up for a free 30-day trial of ProjectManager and start planning your project today!
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Project Planning Resources
- Best Project Planner Tools: Apps, Software & Templates
- Best Project Planning Software of 2023 (Free & Paid)
- 25 of the Best Planning Quotes
- 3 Best Planner Apps for Mac in 2023
- 3 Best Project Management Charts for Project Planning
- Project Management Trends
- How to Create a Project Roadmap (Example Included)
- What Is Aggregate Planning? Strategies & Tips
- What Is Rolling Wave Planning?
- How to Create a Project Execution Plan (PEP) – Free Template Included
- Sample Project Plan For Your Next Project
- Operational Planning: How to Make an Operations Plan
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- Work Breakdown Structure Software
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The Main Differences Between Planning and Scheduling
5/24/21 12:00 AM
Production planning and scheduling tend to seem overwhelmingly similar. However, there are some differences that set these two concepts apart. The main difference between planning and scheduling is that planning determines what and how much needs to be done while scheduling defines who and when the operations will be performed.
Although they are different processes, they come together within operation and production scheduling. As one depends on the other, it is important to ensure that the planning component is played out accurately to create an efficient production schedule. Closing the gap in terms of discrepancies between the two processes will ensure efficient results for the company as a whole. Planning and scheduling are essential for manufacturers that are seeking to have a thorough production plan and utilize their resources to the fullest extent.
The Main Differences Within Planning and Scheduling
There are various reasons as to why planning and scheduling differ, which the following concepts are listed below:
- Planning - Planning pertains to the process of creating a plan of which materials and resources will be required to fulfill incoming and forecasted demand. This step is crucial to ensure that you have enough materials and resource capacity available to produce your orders on time. This component pertains to the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of any project: what exactly needs to be achieved and how it will be accomplished.
- Scheduling - Scheduling pertains to establishing the timing of the use of specific resources of that organization. In production, scheduling involves developing schedules for workers, equipment, and materials. It reflects on the ‘when’ of a project, by assigning the appropriate resources to get the production plan completed within a period of time. Creating optimized production schedules ensures that your facility is able to reduce costs, increase productivity, and deliver goods to customers on time.
In order to create accurate and realistic production plans that allow manufacturers to react quickly to changes, it is important to have a production plan that is aligned with the resource and material scheduling process. Having any discrepancy or divergence between the planning and scheduling process creates inefficiencies that can be costly for your business. The bigger the divergence, the larger the cost.
This is where an Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) like PlanetTogether will benefit manufacturers. With concurrent planning and scheduling, manufacturers ensure that all scheduling constraints are taken into consideration when creating the production schedule which leads to smoother operations and increased customer satisfaction.
Our production plant is faster and more efficient, which keeps our facility in better spirits and running smoothly. GREGORY VAN LEIRSBURG, PRODUCTION SCHEDULER, STANDARD PROCESS SUPPLEMENTS
Concurrent Planning and Scheduling
An Advanced Planning and Scheduling System quickly and automatically creates a concurrent production plan and schedule that takes into consideration all of the constraints, sequencing preferences, and management priorities you have.
Being able to plan and schedule together will allow for better coordination across departments. This can help reduce waste as all departments will have visibility in the number of items that are available and are being produced.
PlanetTogether’s Advanced Planning and Scheduling system allows you to have extended visibility between your scheduling, production, and procurement departments to keep demand and supply aligned to improve customer service and meet your delivery dates. It will also allow you to reduce your material costs while minimizing schedule disruptions.
Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) Software
Advanced Planning and Scheduling Softwares have become a must for modern-day manufacturing operations as customer demand for increased product assortment, fast delivery, and downward cost pressures become prevalent. These systems help planners save time while providing greater agility in updating ever-changing priorities, production schedules, and inventory plans. APS Systems can be quickly integrated with an ERP/MRP software to fill the gaps where these systems lack planning and scheduling flexibility, accuracy, and efficiency.
With PlanetTogether APS you can:
- Create optimized schedules that balance production efficiency and delivery performance
- Maximize throughput on bottleneck resources to increase revenue
- Synchronize supply with demand to reduce inventories
- Provide company-wide visibility to resource capacity
- Enable scenario data-driven decision making
The implementation of an Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) Software will take your manufacturing operations to the next level of production efficiency by taking advantage of the operational data you already possess in your ERP system. APS is a step in the right direction of efficiency and lean manufacturing production enhancement. Try out a free trial or demo !
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Know the Differences & Comparisons
Difference Between Planning and Scheduling
Last updated on June 8, 2022 by Surbhi S
However, scheduling involves the allocation of resources or production facilities to process work orders. In this, various jobs compete for the limited available resources. So, it is all about the assignment of priorities to those jobs which are more important than others.
Let us dive deep into this concept to understand the difference between planning and scheduling.
Content: Planning Vs Scheduling
Comparison chart, types of scheduling, what is planning.
Production Planning involves the evaluation and ascertainment of resources required in the process of production so as to achieve the intended goal. The resources can be labour, material, machinery, utilities, etc.
Moreover, it is an extensive process of deciding beforehand the activities and actions which are necessary to accomplish the project or production in the desired manner. In short, we could say how the company plan to manage its supply chain, raw materials, employees, machinery, utilities etc.
Further, the planning department of the enterprise takes decisions on each element of the job regarding:
- What task is to be carried out?
- How the task is to be carried out?
- Who is going to carry out the task?
Functions involved in Production Planning
In production planning, a grouping of functions takes place in the following manner:
- Making plans for the design of the product which is about to manufacture.
- Listing out full details and requirements of the products about to manufacture.
- Determining the material quality and quantity to be consumed.
- Making plans for the sequence of operations.
- Planning for equipment capacity.
- Planning for internal material handling, control checks, quality parameter and standards.
Also Read : Difference Between Production and Operations Management
What is Scheduling?
Scheduling implies the process in which we develop a time target for all production operations. It is all about ascertainment of the timing and order of operations in the project and its assembly to determine the total time of its completion.
This includes both set-up time as well as preparation time in implementing a production order in the unit. We use scheduling to plan out the use of factory equipment and resources and also to define processes and purchasing of materials.
So, we could say that scheduling is about deciding the time and date for performing each operation. Along with that, it states the order in which the operations will follow. The planning department of the enterprise is responsible for the preparation of the schedule.
Moreover, as per the type of layout and job like job shop, batch production or mass production, scheduling system techniques differ.
- Assignment of job to a particular work centre or machine.
- Time of job assignment and its completion.
- Resource allocation such as manpower and materials.
- When the task is going to be performed?
- In what sequence the task is to be performed?
- Reflection of plan
- Feedback and control function to overcome deviations.
Time Table published by the railways provides the actual time at which all the trains start and the time at which they will arrive at different stations and the halting time is Scheduling.
Types of Schedules
- Master Schedules : This schedule contains the date by which major production items need to complete. In this schedule, we split up the production requirements for each product. On the receipt of any order, first of all, we enter it in the master schedule taking into account the availability of resources. Master Schedule is very helpful for the purpose of advanced planning as it provides details regarding the quantities and delivery timings of the product.
- Manufacturing Schedule : Once the preparation of the master schedule is complete. After that, we will develop a manufacturing schedule. In this, we assign a definite span of time to a particular shop for the production of those products which must be prepared. Also, the day or week by which it should be complete.
- Forward Scheduling : This type of scheduling begins with a predetermined start date. Further, it precedes the first operation to the last operation. This helps in ascertaining the date of completion of the final product. Further, forward scheduling attempts to make the best possible use of the plant capacity by performing mass production at minimum cost.
- Backward Scheduling : It starts with a specified due date and operates in a reverse manner to ascertain the required date to begin and make certain that the production of the finished product is complete by the due date.
Also Read : Difference Between Product and Process Layout
Key Differences Between Planning and Scheduling
The points stated here will explain the difference between planning and scheduling:
- Planning implies the process of thinking in advance about how the product or service is to be manufactured before the actual process of manufacturing begins. On the contrary, scheduling refers to the process of ascertaining the time at which the activities will take place based on the defined duration and previous activities.
- Planning deals with what operations we need to perform and how do we need to perform the operations. Whereas scheduling is concerned with who will perform the operations and when the operations will be performed.
- Planning relies on strategic planning as it states why we perform the production process. Now you must be wondering what is strategic planning? Well, strategic planning is a process of considering the present mission and environmental conditions of the business to set forth a guide for future decisions and outcomes. Conversely, scheduling relies on planning, as it forms the base to organize the tasks in a proper manner.
- Planning is all about what actions the firm needs to perform to attain the ultimate goal. In contrast, scheduling involves determining when or how to perform the activities within the established criteria.
- Planning emphasizes reasoning the outcomes of an action to decide from among the various possible courses of action. As against, scheduling focuses on the plotting of various sets of tasks to the available resources, for a definite period of time while meeting out the formalities.
- The time horizon for planning is medium-term. Whereas the time horizon for scheduling is short term.
All in all, production planning is a significant part of the production system. It is what happens when a company outlines a path to achieve the desired results. Oppositely, scheduling is the activity of rank ordering of the jobs or tasks considering all the resources and them lining them up on the basis of their importance.
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Managing Customer Value
The Difference Between Project Planning and Scheduling
Posted on March 23, 2023 March 18, 2023 Author business901
Project planning and scheduling are two essential components of any successful project. Proper planning and scheduling ensure the project is completed on time, within budget, and to the right specifications. Project plans provide an overview of the project goals and objectives, while project schedules provide a timeline for particular activities. Together, both provide a roadmap for the successful completion of the project. When developing a project plan or schedule, businesses must consider their objectives and resources carefully to ensure that their projects are well-structured and achievable.
What is a Project Plan? A project plan is a formal, approved document that defines how the project will be executed, monitored, and controlled. This document serves as a reference point for the entire project team, providing clarity on their roles and responsibilities and outlining the timeline and budget for completion. It also outlines specific objectives and goals and how to measure success. To ensure effectiveness, the project plan must be detailed, logical, and well-structured. The project team should use this document to guide them throughout the project, helping to ensure that it is completed on time, within budget, and with quality results.
What is a Project Schedule? A project schedule is an essential part of any successful project. It is a timeline of tasks, activities, and deadlines that helps to keep the project organized and on track. It is typically divided into phases and milestones, with specific due dates for the completion of each task. A project schedule should include a detailed list of the tasks necessary to complete the project, how much time each task will take, and who will be responsible for completing each task. It should also include any dependencies or risks associated with the project. Having a comprehensive timeline and plan in place makes it easier to track progress and identify areas that need extra attention or resources. A schedule helps ensure the project is completed on time and within budget.
The Difference Between Project Planning and Scheduling: Project Planning and Scheduling are two distinct processes with different purposes. The project plan outlines a project’s overall goals, objectives, and timeline. In contrast, the project schedule outlines the specific tasks and activities that must be completed to reach the project’s goals. The plan typically includes more information about the project, such as resources needed, roles and responsibilities of team members, budget, stakeholders, and timeline. The schedule typically provides more detail on the tasks that must be completed to meet the project goals. In addition, it outlines who is responsible for each task or activity and when it needs to be completed. It also outlines any dependencies between tasks or activities. Both processes are essential for successful project delivery.
Project Planning vs. Scheduling: Pros and Cons: Project Planning and Scheduling have pros and cons. Project planning is useful for providing an overall view of the project and its goals, making it easier to visualize how the project should progress. However, drawing up a plan covering every project aspect and keeping track of each task cannot be easy. On the other hand, scheduling provides more detailed planning for each task or milestone, making it easier to track progress. The downside is that keeping track of all the tasks and milestones can be difficult, especially when working on larger projects. Both project planning and scheduling are important tools for managing projects and ensuring successful completion.
The Benefits of Project Planning and Scheduling: Project planning and scheduling offer many benefits to project managers. Project plans provide a clear outline of what needs to be done and when helping to ensure that the project is completed on time and within budget. Scheduling helps to identify potential problems early on, enabling the team to adjust their plan as necessary. This minimizes the risk of costly errors and delays. Additionally, having a detailed plan ensures that all stakeholders are on the same page and working towards the same goal. This can help to foster collaboration and increase productivity within the team. Finally, planning and scheduling can help project managers manage and allocate resources more efficiently.
How to Develop a Project Plan: Developing a project plan is an essential step to ensure successful project completion. It involves setting clear objectives, establishing the project’s scope, and determining the resources and timeline needed to reach the goals. A project plan should also include risk management strategies, processes, and procedures for monitoring and evaluating progress. To create an effective project plan, it is important to consult with stakeholders and team members to ensure everyone understands the objectives, roles, and responsibilities associated with the project. Additionally, it is important to regularly review the plan to ensure that it aligns with the project’s changing needs. With these steps in mind, organizations can create a comprehensive project plan that effectively guides them toward successful completion.
How to Develop a Project Schedule: Developing a project schedule is critical in project planning. It involves creating a timeline for the completion of the project and breaking down the tasks into chunks. The schedule should include deadlines for each of the tasks, as well as milestones to indicate when certain tasks have been completed. It is important to ensure that all stakeholders know the timeline and have time to review it before any changes are made. Planning can help avoid costly delays and help keep projects on track. When creating a schedule, it is important to consider dependencies between tasks, such as if one task must be completed before another can begin. It is also important to account for potential risks or issues and plan accordingly. Lastly, it is essential to ensure that resources are available when needed to meet the deadlines. By following these steps, teams can create comprehensive project schedules that ensure the timely completion of projects.
Best Practices for Project Planning and Scheduling: When it comes to project planning and scheduling, it is important to ensure that the plan and schedule are realistic. This means considering the resources needed, the timeline for completion, and the team’s capacity. It is also crucial to ensure that the plan and schedule are well-communicated to everyone involved in the project. This involves setting expectations, assigning tasks, and providing regular updates on progress. Additionally, it is important to establish a system of accountability early on to ensure everyone is responsible for meeting deadlines and completing their tasks. By following these best practices for project planning and scheduling, teams can ensure their projects are completed on time and within budget.
Conclusion: Project planning and scheduling are essential to successful project management. Project planning helps to identify the goals of a project, while the project schedule helps to map out the activities and tasks needed to achieve the project goals. Both processes are important for organizing resources, reducing risk, and ensuring the successful completion of projects. Understanding the differences between project planning and scheduling is important to use them effectively. Organizations can create effective plans that help ensure successful projects by properly leveraging both processes.
Project Risk Academy
What are the key differences between project planning vs. scheduling.
Project planning vs. scheduling- are they the same? You might have heard the role of Planner/Scheduler in a project. Does it mean that Planners & Schedulers do the same work? Are “Planning” and “Scheduling” the same terms? If not, what are the key differences between Project Planning vs. Scheduling? Check this video by Dr. Saleh
The post What are the key differences between Project Planning vs. Scheduling? appeared first on Project Control Academy .
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Best Construction Scheduling Software 2023
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Table of Contents
What is construction scheduling software, autodesk build, buildertrend, coconstruct, types of construction scheduling software, common features of construction scheduling software, what is the best construction scheduling software.
- Built-in communication and collaboration tools
- Field reporting
- Accessibility of schedule and other documents from the cloud
- Pricing is a factor for smaller businesses
- Timesheet feature is through integration
- Fast file uploads
- Improved project transparency
- Users wish for more intuitive UI
- Improvements in timesheet reporting
- Integrated task management and automation
- Project Gantt chart
- Intuitive UI
- Sends too many notifications
- Users wish for a construction schedule template and other related templates
- Integrated task creation, scheduling, priority management, and assignment tracking
- Critical path identification
- Good visualization of project
- Users wish for easier automation of tasks
- Occasional challenges in integration
- Central management of multiple projects
- Customer management and collaboration
- Responsive customer support
- Users wish for enhancements in the financial tools like approvals and taxes
- Mobile app features work differently from the web version
- Jobsite reporting
- Visual project tracking
- Ease of setup and use
- Needs improvement in managing multiple versions and naming of plans and drawings
- Needs easier way to use forms
- Built-in communication and collaboration
- Simplified timesheet management
- Inconsistent mobile app performance during uploading
- Time clock feature needs improvement
- Ease of setup
- Project and user administration
- Responsive support
- Some issues when entering hours in the daily reports module
- Users wish for navigation shortcuts
- Simple to use
- Good graphical displays
- Job tracking
- Users desire email integration for leads forwarding
- Limited customization
- Simple takeoff and and professional-looking quotes
- Image attachment in documents
- Integrated accounting
- Gantt charts needs enhancement
- Additional integration with other apps and services
Construction Management Software
Project management software, job management software.
- User-friendly interface and navigation
- Easy-to-edit calendar and Gantt charts
- Ready-to-use and customizable schedule templates
- Collaboration tools for teams and external partners with access control
- Dependencies, critical path, baseline, and auto-schedule adjustment
- Web and mobile access
- Automatic notifications through text and email of changes and progress
- Interactive linking of schedule to other parts of the project
- Built-in messaging, document management, and file sharing
- Import/export tools for schedules from/to other software
Features for Small Businesses
- All-in-one solution : Construction scheduling software that seamlessly integrates with other tools like estimating, quoting, cost tracking, and accounting will increase the efficiency of the users for having all data in a single, connected platform.
- Ease of use : Small business owners are usually hands-on owners and need to spend more time on-site than at their desks trying to figure out how to make a schedule.
Features for Midsize Businesses
- Integrated project management : Midsize businesses would benefit from having a complete project management capability instead of a scheduling feature only. Project management will include task and resource management, multiple work views, and work-in-progress reports.
- Financial tools : Companies can streamline processes essential for their growth if their schedule and plans can quickly link to bids, budgets, invoices, and payments, without users having to work on another app.
Features for Enterprise Businesses
- Integrated project and field management : Large construction companies need to consolidate processes and tools so their schedules work seamlessly with office systems like project portfolio management as well as on-site tools like safety checklist using mobile apps.
- Integration : With more diverse projects, enterprise firms may need to work with partners and clients that have their own systems. Their construction scheduling tool should be able to accept different schedule or plan file formats and easily convert them to usable project documents.
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