Project managers rely on new project scheduling techniques to follow the critical path. To do so, they pitch the entire project via several task lists. Next, the initial project’s timeline remains pivotal for upcoming schedule management.
At the same time, a project calendar is an excellent tool for resource management. Thus, the critical path method focuses on the project’s scope, type and total cost. The leaders use a program evaluation and review technique for all project activities along the way.
The Common Project Scheduling Technique
The project schedule funnels the chain of activities into milestones. Such groups produce a list of deadlines that your team should abide by. However, the project timeline should revolve around a realistic estimate. Here are other relevant aspects:
- Identifying how many extra resources you’ll need
- Preparations for the project execution phase
- Tagging the dependent tasks
- The project tasks’ duration
- Oversee resource availability
- Apply fast-tracking techniques wherever possible
- Set the project scope by using milestones
- Evaluate your teams’ overall competence
- Secure enough funds
- Risk management and analysis
The Basic Techniques
Even when using modern scheduling techniques in project management, you’ll need to provide input. Also, not all projects follow the same outline, meaning they’ll present various problems. Hence, it’s very difficult to put your finger on the exact set of issues you’ll likely face.
However, there are common starting points you can orient upon. Here are the basic frames for project scheduling:
A Master (simplified) project schedule – This often resembles a list of tasks where the project manager inserts due dates
A Milestone (summary level) project schedule – This overview highlights the main milestones the project should fulfil at certain points. Hence, this type of schedule doesn’t inspect individual activities. Instead, it poses a milestone for any deliverable or broader company goal.
A Detailed (thorough) project schedule – This approach is an in-depth view of the entire project and its parts. As such, it’s the preferred method for complex projects. If used correctly, you can spot any bottleneck before it slows down the work.
Practical Appliances and Relevant Steps
Calculate the Project’s Scope
Managers use mathematical analysis to figure out the possible time span of the project. This includes the PERT and Critical Path Method techniques. Here are some more useful scheduling techniques in project management:
Program Evaluation and Review
PERT is a useful tool for evaluating the total duration of the activities. For better orientation, leaders use PERT charts depicting all task dependencies.
In them, the activity line weaves across the project roadmap and shows a path. Then, you can measure the total scope of the project by using the following:
The (O) Factor: Optimistic timing is the best-case scenario regarding project completion
The (M) Tag: This is a more grounded estimate of how soon you can finalize the work
The (P) Timing: This is the worst-case scenario that assumes a streak of a missed deadline.
Establish an Event Calendar
The project scheduling process should allow you to place all activities on a calendar. For a better visual timeline, try naming each project calendar differently. That way, you’ll know where to look first for an approaching deadline.
Simulate the Upcoming Workflow
Hidden pitfalls and bottlenecks may prevent any project from reaching an end. However, you can simulate a chain of events around certain parameters.
So, assume the most likely outcome of each subsequent task. String those dates together and see how things may develop.
Use a Gantt Chart
Alongside project scheduling software, you can also use various data visualizers. Gantt charts show the task’s timeline based on a horizontal graph.
At the same time, they highlight all dependencies and due dates. This greatly simplifies progress tracking for all projects.
Correctly Spread Out the Available Resources
In most cases, you’ll be able to summarize how many resources a task will require. You might be aware of this even during the planning phase. Hence, divide your available resources accordingly. You don’t want to waste manpower on any given task.
Similarly, consider the fatigue levels of your employees. If you can, make strategic substitutes along the way. If you can refresh the teams, the workflow should not falter.
Shortlist the Tasks
In conjunction with the above methods, you can also shortlist all tasks in a document. To that end, use either a spreadsheet or a word processor.
Although it’s rudimentary, this is among the most popular project scheduling techniques. However, its usefulness is limited to small-scope projects only.
Duration Compression Techniques
Some tasks have leeway you can spot to reduce the overall length. So, you can compress their completion time to preserve the project’s scope. Here are two common methods you can utilize:
The Fast-Tracking Technique
This method includes tasks you can simultaneously work on. Also, it refers to the activities to which you can assign an earlier start date once work commences. This is a good way to make up for the time lost due to accidents.
The Project Crashing Technique
This approach means funneling more resources into a task to complete it ASAP. Therefore, you’ll need proper reserves and funding to crash even a single task. On that note, resources alone won’t cut it sometimes. Instead, you might have to hire new recruits and add new team comms channels. Either way, crashing is never a cheap solution.
A List of Pros
Most scheduling techniques in project management provide these advantages:
- Simplified progress tracking and team communication
- Allow each team member to get familiar with the necessary details
- Underline all pending issues with funds and similar pitfalls
- Allow the project manager to spot any prospective developments on time
Common Issues You Can Quickly Resolve
A detailed project schedule is a necessary tool when mapping out a project. Depending on the cope, you can switch between several techniques to iron things out.
Thus, scheduling techniques in project management provide a solution for several common issues:
Dealing with incorrect time frames
The managers should figure out the ballpark of the time needed for a project. Yet, that task is often tricky to complete.
Various internal and external factors can push a deadline back. However, the PERT technique can aid you in such evaluations.
Making up for missed deadlines
Several time-compression techniques can boost your team’s performance.
For example, time-tracking is a useful technique when you suffer from a missed deadline. Plus, you can work on two tasks simultaneously to stay on the critical path.
Properly assign the roles within your team
Techniques like crashing warrant having enough manpower. So, when pressed with time, you can offer the team members a bonus for their extra work.
Similarly, consider hiring a group of freelancers to fill up the vacant positions.
Utilize cost-effective resource allocation
You might’ve directed too many resources for a non-critical task. Also, some of the members might’ve performed below expectations.
At times, some departments can get too bulky without a justifiable reason. Thus, you can always review and optimize the resource allocation.
Conclusion on Scheduling Techniques in Project Management
Today’s project managers utilize a slew of project scheduling techniques daily. Such tools allow them to oversee all crucial aspects of the workflow and provide inputs. Conversely, they have full access to the time compression methods if the need arrives.
The more complex projects often hide a myriad of roadblocks along the way. So, you might have to face budget issues and team fatigue. Luckily, project scheduling can produce the necessary leeway while you look for a workaround.
If you liked this article talking about scheduling techniques in project management, you should check out this one about project management for non-project managers.
I also wrote about similar topics like operations management vs project management, gold plating in project management, monitoring in project management, forward pass in project management, and project management OKRs.