Wednesday 2 February 2022

How to Create a Project Schedule in 5 Easy Steps

Congratulations! You've been assigned to your first project, and your supervisor wants to see the project schedule at the current meeting next week. After hearing about your new promotion, the computer support team has installed Microsoft Project on your work PC, so you're ready to start scheduling your project! Unfortunately, your Introduction to Microsoft Project training courses can't be scheduled until next month, and your manager needs a full schedule next week. But if you have a book about Microsoft Project and this article, you will be able to accomplish the task assigned to you.

According to the Project Management Knowledge Set (PMBOK), there are five main processes for developing a project schedule. The PMBOK Time Management knowledge area explains each of the inputs, tools, methods and outputs in detail, so you should look for more information in the PMBOK. Knowing that you need to start by developing a project schedule, let's start with five basic steps.

Step One: Define Actions

The purpose of the Define Actions step is to identify all the tasks required to complete the project. This often leads to the identification of all the work results and deliverables that are part of the project. The data provided by the results are discovered as components of the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). The project work schedule further breaks down these deliverables into the actual actions needed to get the job done.

If the project team does not have a set scale description, WBS, or satisfactory scoping, you may need to hold one or two workshops to gather requirements for further development of the project schedule. Since you need to create a project work schedule before next week, you'll probably be creating tasks for "analysis" or "scaling" in your work schedule. At this stage of the project, it is normal not to have all the information about the project. You can include information gathering activities in your project schedule. It is perfectly acceptable to create a project analysis plan before moving to the implementation or production stage of the project result.

Suppose you have A WBS or have enough information to create an approximate set of tasks to further determine the scale. When you have defined all the actions, the next step is to set the sequence of actions.

Step Two: Set the Sequence of Actions

In this step, you've written down all the task names and then broken down the delivered results listed in WBS. The next step is to set a sequence of actions with dependencies. During this phase, you identify any dependencies on related tasks and document them in the project schedule. You need to analyze each of the tasks to understand which task has a dependence on additional tasks. Your favorite book on scheduling a project describes the different types of dependency relationships, including start-after-finish and start-after-start dependencies. This relationship will affect the start and finish dates of your tasks.

Step Three: Assess Action Resources

The next step is to identify resources and their availability for your project. Remember that not all team members will be 100% available for your project, as some team members will work on multiple projects. At this point, you also assign resources to each task. We usually assign resources to tasks using the standard Gantt chart view in Microsoft Project. For each task, at the lowest point of the WBS, click the drop-down list in the Resource Names column and select an available group member.
We recommend that you split tasks so that you can assign a single resource to a single task and avoid adding multiple resources to that task. This produces a longer work schedule, but it allows you to better control the allocation and tracking of resources as the project progresses.

Step Four: Estimating the Duration of Actions

The next step after assigning resources is to estimate the duration of each task. Duration of activity is the number of working periods required to complete a task. In Microsoft Project, you can set it in days, weeks, and even months! It is also important to understand the difference between different types of duration, including firmly established operation, firmly established duration, and firmly set units. Choosing the right type of duration affects the availability of resources and the projected completion time of the task.

Step Five: Scheduling

The next stage is to analyze the schedule of work on the project and consider the sequences, durations, resources and inevitable limitations on the schedule. The purpose of this stage is to verify that the project schedule correctly reproduces the planned work. At this point, you not only verify that the duration estimates are accurate, but also verify that the resources are allocated correctly.

Resource leveling is an important step in verifying that project timelines are realistic and that resources are assigned properly. Microsoft Project has an automatic resource leveling feature, but we don't recommend using it. Instead of automatic leveling, we recommend that you use a manual process to resolve the problem of excessive resource allocation. This manual resource leveling process is time-consuming, but it results in a better project completion with realistic completion dates.

Once you've finalized the schedule, you'll be ready to review it with your supervisor for initial feedback on it. Once you meet with your supervisor to review the schedule, get feedback from it, and make the necessary changes, you'll need to create a baseline schedule for the project before moving on to the schedule. This measure will ensure that the original deadlines in Microsoft Project are maintained, and you can compare the planned deadlines with the actual deadlines as the project progresses.

The next step in PMBOK is to control the schedule, which will be the topic of a future article. We hope these simple steps have helped you prepare for your upcoming meeting. Good luck in working on the project!

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