Are you looking to hire schedulers for your organization, or to boost your internal team’s skills with some top-class scheduling skills? One option is to hire in expert schedulers on a contract basis so they can manage your timeframes, leaving you free to engage with the client.
Another option is to hire someone who ticks all the boxes of being an excellent in-house scheduler. Here are the 7 skills that schedulers need so they can better contribute to your business.
1. Technical ability
Yes, the top skill for being a good scheduler is to actually be able to schedule! This is a pre-requisite for anyone in a project management scheduling job. They need to know how to use Primavera P6, Microsoft Project, or the tool you use to create project schedules.
They need to have confidence entering the tasks, dependencies, resources and other task-specific data to build out the schedule. This information needs to be accurate and timely as it creates data points for Earned Value Management reporting.
On top of being able to use the software, they also need to know the theory and best practices for scheduling. Project management basics and then advanced knowledge of Earned Value Management will help them create project timelines that are more efficient and serve the team more effectively.
This is where outsourcing your scheduling services might be an advantage: contract schedulers typically have years of experience in the field in a range of industries, with advanced knowledge of how the tools work and how to apply best practices.
2. Technical literacy
More than simply being able to use your scheduling tool and understanding the logic of creating a schedule, people in this role also need to be confident computer users.
Data could come to them in a variety of formats from others in the project team. They will be handling spreadsheets, extracts from timesheets, files in various formats, data dumps from sub-contractors and lots more.
They need to be able to work confidently with a range of software solutions – and know how to get help if they can’t solve a problem themselves.
Why is the schedule being built this way? Could it be more efficient if it was done differently, or if the tasks happened in a different order? Curiosity will elevate your schedulers from administrators to people who are able to input to the way the project is being managed and improve performance.
Let’s face it, not everyone on the team is going to be great at providing the information required for scheduling. There are aspects to putting together a good work plan and while that’s second nature to the person doing it, the rest of the team doesn’t have the same outlook or priorities.
That’s why resourcefulness is useful. In the role, you might have to be creative about how you seek out information. You’ll need to make connections with others and find solutions where data is missing. That could be anything from calling up a supplier to working with the IT team to build an interface into Primavera P6 for the purposes of automating data feeds.
When everything on the project changes and the client needs a new version of the plan right now, it’s important that the person in charge of the dates can stay calm in a crisis! There is too much at stake to mess up the schedule. The dates have to reflect reality and enable the team to deliver the work to the required standard. Errors can have a large impact on project profitability, team morale and customer satisfaction.
Someone who is able to quickly understand the changes required and stay on top of an emerging situation is going to be a huge asset in this role.
6. Attention to detail
Missing a dependency? Typed in someone’s availability with the decimal point in the wrong place? These are things that can prove very costly on a program. It’s really important that schedulers have a good level of attention to detail and are able to check their own work.
Where schedulers work as part of a team, being a team player is also important. They will be interacting with pretty much everyone from the individual who only has to work a few hours on a particular task to preparing reports for the project’s senior leadership.
Finally, there is so much communication across all aspects of project management, and scheduling specifically. They need to speak to colleagues about availability and the latest schedule changes. They need to be able to articulate problems, assimilate data and explain the rationale behind decisions. And that doesn’t even touch on the communication skills required to prepare reports and input into Earned Value Management reporting for the client.
The good news is that all these skills are something you can get better at. Whether you need a Primavera P6 EPPM Master Scheduling course as a refresher of how industry standards apply to your work or whether you are sending a colleague on a soft skills course to improve how they communicate with the team – there are plenty of training options out there. There is nothing innate about being a good project scheduler: everyone has to learn the basics before they become skilled!
If you don’t have the time to learn the basics and how the best practices and industry standards should be shaping the work you do for your clients, then outsourcing your scheduling remains an option. It’s not as hard as you think. The expert scheduler becomes an extension to your own team, working in partnership with you to free up your team to do what they do best: project delivery.
Whatever you choose, it’s clear that someone with the right skills can make or break a project schedule, so put your tools in the hands of someone who excels at the job.