Benefits of Project Scheduling
What is the purpose of project scheduling?
The point of project scheduling is to bring together the work to be done and the timeline for completion into a single resource for the team. It’s a document that summarizes the entirety of the project and acts as a guide to getting the work done. It’s the roadmap for the team.
Basically, it’s hard to run a project without a schedule.
The importance of scheduling on projects cannot be underestimated. It’s a fundamental skill for a project manager – so much so that many large projects have people in the role of scheduler (or planner) where scheduling and maintaining the schedule is the main part of their job.
Let’s look at 5 benefits of project scheduling.
A project schedule allows work to be prioritized. As the team can see all the activity-level information required, they can make sure tasks are done in the right order and with the right level of urgency.
The project goals can be identified and linked to work to help with the prioritization process. While you might not write down the relative priority given to each project activity, the team will naturally use their subject matter expertise to help with dependency management. The important tasks on the project plan can be identified through the effort involved in scheduling, and that should make them float to the top of people’s To Do lists. Increasing visibility is key to making sure project tasks get done at the right time.
Schedules allow the project manager to track and monitor progress. They provide valuable information to the Earned Value management system as well. Whether you are deep into EV metrics or tracking progress using another method, you need a schedule to start from.
Take baselines as a snapshot of where you are at a given moment in time and use those to compare actual performance with scheduled performance.
Use project scheduling software to record and manage activity durations and time constraints. Track project performance and milestones.
3. Resource management
Knowing what tasks are required is a pre-requisite for getting the right staff on the team. That might include a professional scheduler to help out with making the schedule exactly right!
Resource requirements are identified during the scheduling process. While you might not have all the staffing details for the entire project when you first start creating the timeline in your project management software, you will be able to add in the resource allocation when this is known. Placeholder resources can also be useful because they help identify the kinds of people who are needed to fill the gaps.
The team can then look at resource availability and demand and apply that information to the task list. Project calendars can be used to set up bespoke options for staff availability in the project scheduling tools.
4. Risk management
Schedule risk is one of the biggest factors to consider for risk management, especially on complex projects. Your delivery timeline could be at risk from delays caused by problems with suppliers, resource issues, requirements conflicts, additions to scope, technical problems and more.
A detailed view of your project schedule, the timeline, and resources required, enables the team to identify and act on risk more effectively, especially when it relates to tasks that are on the critical path.
5. Stakeholder satisfaction
Who do you think is going to be more satisfied and confident in the project’s outcomes: the sponsor who is shown a detailed project schedule and a well-thought through plan that stands up to scrutiny, or the sponsor who is told everything will be fine but when investigates, realizes there’s only a bunch of sticky notes and scribbles on a white board to tie things together?
The sponsor who wants to make sure they are leading a successful project is going to want to see the former. Project deliverables need to be translated into a work breakdown structure, detailed task descriptions and human resource estimates. They want to know that professional scheduling techniques have been used and that the team hasn’t simply guessed. They want reliability and to have confidence that complex tasks are going to be executed in the right order and with the right level of skill, without the team constantly needing extra time.
Project schedules serve a useful communication role too. They act as the mechanism to talk to the project sponsor and others in governance roles, as well as the team members, about expectations and dates. They can be used to point out conflicts, potential delays and deadlines – and to gain support for making sure those don’t slow you down.
Overall, a schedule is a critical asset for a project team, so the benefits of project scheduling are obvious. Without that roadmap to completion, there is every chance that the project will slip, deadlines will be missed and the result is less than satisfactory for clients.
The good news is that there are many powerful scheduling tools that take much of the heavy lifting away from the team. You’ll still have to deploy your team’s specialist knowledge and expertise, but it becomes a lot easier for the schedule to fulfill its purpose when you have the skills and technology to back you up.