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Project Time Management – How To Optimize Project Schedule

Last updated on May 22,2019 1.1K Views
Swatee Chand
Research Analyst at Edureka. A techno freak who likes to explore different... Research Analyst at Edureka. A techno freak who likes to explore different technologies. Likes to follow the technology trends in market and write about...
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Project Schedule Management or better known as Project Time Management is one of the major pillars of the project management framework. Since a project is a time-bounded entity, it is very important for a project manager to optimize each and every bit of available time. In this project time management article, I will be giving you a complete insight into how to schedule a project and what are the various processes involved in it.

Below are the topics that I will be discussing in this project time management article:

You may also go through the recording of Project Time Management where our certified experts of PMP® Exam Training have explained the concepts in depth.

Project Time Management | Project Schedule Management | Edureka

Let’s get started with this article.

What is Project Time Management?

Project time management is one of the 10 Knowledge Areas of the project management framework. It was renamed as project schedule management in PMBOK®Guide – Edition Sixth, released in September 2017. As per the PMBOK®Guide,

Project scheduling provides a detailed plan that represents how and when the project will deliver the products, services, and results defined in the project scope and serves as a tool for communication, managing stakeholders’ expectations, and as a basis for performance reporting.

schedule management - Project Schedule Management - Edureka

Project time management is a knowledge area that helps a project manager in overall project management. It helps in curating a well-analyzed timeline that guides the entire team in timely delivery of the project output. It is tightly knit with other two knowledge areas, Project Cost Management, and Project Scope Management and requires inputs from various other teams having their own time management process. All these inputs are then integrated together through their interdependent components to produce the final deliverable. The output of this integrated effort is the time or schedule management plan, that is technically a subset of the overall project management process.

But, why do we need to manage the time spent on a project?

Well, this is because the project basically is a temporary endeavor that has an official start and end date. To be regarded as a successful project, it must end on or before the specified date, else it might cost you in terms of money, time, resources etc. To ensure that the project is well managed and teams involved are on track with their allocated tasks, a project manager makes use of a project schedule.

This project schedule draws the estimated timeline of a project from its initiation until its final delivery. It indicates what tasks/activities need to be done, which resources are to be used, and when the project should wrap. In other words, it’s a timeline that outlines the start and end dates of each of the project activities, along with the milestones that must be met in order to hand over the project on time.

The project schedule is developed by a project manager. To curate an effective project schedule, he must have a clear understanding of the project activities along with the skill sets required for efficiently planning, scheduling and controlling the project timeline. Not only these, but a project manager must also be proficient with various time management tools like Scoro, Asana, Trello etc. They help in further analyzing, measuring and assessing the applied time management techniques in the project.

Hope, this gave you a clear picture of what is project time management. Now, in order to dive deeper into it and know how it works internally, you must understand its benefits.

Time Management Benefits

Below I have listed down various benefits of having a systematic project schedule management:

  1. Better Organization: Projects generally consist of various teams, departments, vendors, locations, resources etc. An efficient schedule management plan helps you in organizing all aspects of the project effectively and complete the project within the given time frame.
  2. Improved Decision Making: With proper time management, you will have enough time for your project activities and thus you can take decisions after proper research and thinking.
  3. Better Estimation: Having proper schedule management, you can easily foresee the consequences/outcomes of various activities. Also, you can optimize your schedule for what-if scenarios which will help you to find a solution or raise the matter to the relevant stakeholders in advance.
  4. Keeps Project on Track: The schedule of a project is like a roadmap from where you can track what was the original plan and how much you have deviated from it. That way you can put efforts to bring your project back on track and avoid any failure or loss.
  5. Reduces Stress: Being a project manager, if you successfully stick your schedule management plan, you will be able to complete your project tasks and activities within decided timeline without having to stress over it.
  6. Improves Communication: Once a project schedule is decided upon, it is shared with the entire team, informing them about their timelines. This way your teams will know which activity is to be done, by whom and by when, leaving no space for confusion or ambiguity.
  7. Reduces Cost & Delivery Time: Project schedule management helps in tying dates to the durations of tasks which bring in a sense of urgency. This way the project is ought to wrap up within time without costing extra time or budget.
  8. Enhances Productivity: With schedule management, you have a birds-eye view of the entire project that helps in analyzing underutilized resources and prioritizing the tasks accordingly so that each and every resource is optimally used.

Project Time Management Processes

Project Time or Schedule Management is made up of six processes, which are:

  1. Plan Schedule Management
  2. Define Activities
  3. Sequence Activities
  4. Estimate Activity Durations
  5. Develop Schedule
  6. Control Schedule

1. Plan Schedule Management

Plan schedule management is the initial process of this knowledge area where various policies and procedures are established and documentation with the minute details of the project schedule is curated. These details may include information about how the project schedule will be planned, developed, managed, executed, and controlled. It acts as a guide and often provides a direction to the project manager regarding how to manage the project from its initiation until its delivery. Throughout the project management lifecycle, this process is executed once or at a few specific points which are often predefined.

I have listed down various inputs, tools & techniques and outputs that are involved in the plan schedule management process:

InputsTools & TechniquesOutputs
  1. Project Charter
  2. Project Management Plan
    • Scope Management Plan
    • Development Approach
  3. Enterprise Environmental Factors
  4. Organizational Process Assets
  1. Expert Judgement
  2. Data Analysis
  3. Meeting
  1. Schedule Management Plan

2. Define Activities

Next process of project time management knowledge area is Define Activities. In this process, various actions that are necessary to develop the final deliverable are identified and documented. This process helps in breaking down the work packages into smaller and scheduled tasks. These smaller tasks act as baselines for estimating, scheduling, executing, monitoring and controlling the entire project work.

The process of Define Activities is performed throughout the project life cycle and involves inputs, tools & techniques and outputs like:

InputsTools & TechniquesOutputs
  1. Project Management Plan
      • Schedule Management Plan
      • Scope Baseline
    • Enterprise Environmental Factors
    • Organizational Process Assets
    1. Expert Judgement
    2. Decomposition
    3. Rolling Wave Planning
    4. Meetings
    1. Activity List
    2. Activity Attributes
    3. Milestone List
    4. Change Requests
    5. Project Management Plan Updates
      • Schedule Baseline
      • Cost Baseline

    3. Sequence Activities

    In the process of Sequence Activities, the relationship among various project activities is identified and documented. Given all the constraints, this process also helps in gaining maximum efficiency by defining the logical sequence of work. In order to do so, the process of sequence activities is performed throughout the project life cycle.

    In the below table I have listed all the inputs, tools & techniques and outputs involved in this process of project time management.

    InputsTools & TechniquesOutputs
    1. Project Management Plan
      • Schedule Management Plan
      • Scope Baseline
    2. Project Documents
      • Activity Attributes
      • Activity List
      • Assumption Log
      • Milestone List
    3. Enterprise Environmental Factors
    4. Organizational Process Assets
    1. Precedence Diagramming
      Method
    2. Dependency Determination & Integration
    3. Leads and Lags
    4. Project Management Information System
    1. Project Schedule Network Diagrams
    2. Project Documents Updates
      • Activity Attributes
      • Activity List
      • Assumption Log
      • Milestone List

    4. Estimate Activity Durations

    As the name suggests, in this process, the number of work periods required to finish every single activity on the project schedule is estimated along with sufficient resources. This process is generally performed throughout the project lifecycle and helps in calculating the estimated time required to complete individual activities. 

    The below table depicts various inputs, tools & techniques and outputs involved in the Estimate Activity Duration process:

    InputsTools & TechniquesOutputs
    1. Project Management Plan
      • Schedule Management Plan
        Scope Baseline
    2. Project Documents
      • Activity Attributes
      • Activity List
      • Assumption Log
      • Lessons Learned Register
      • Milestone List
      • Project Team Assignments
      • Resource Breakdown
        Structure
      • Resource Calendars
      • Resource Requirements
      • Risk Register
    3. Enterprise Environmental Factors
    4. Organizational Process Assets
    1. Expert Judgement
    2. Analogous Estimating
    3. Parametric Estimating
    4. Bottom-Up Estimating
    5. Three Point Estimating
    6. Data Analysis
      • Alternative Analysis
      • Reserve Analysis
    7. Decision Making
    8. Meetings
    1. Duration Estimates
    2. Basis of Estimates
    3. Project Documents Updates
    4. Activity Attributes
    5. Assumption Log
    6. Lessons Learned Register

    5. Develop Schedule

    Develop Schedule is the process of time management knowledge area where a schedule model is created in order to execute, monitor and control the project. Here the minutes of project activities like its sequence, duration, resource requirement, constraints involved are analyzed. Develop Schedule process is performed throughout the project life cycle and produces a model schedule that comes with the completion dates of various project activities.

    This process involves various inputs, tools & techniques and outputs that are listed in the below table:

    InputsTools & TechniquesOutputs
    1. Project Management Plan
      • Schedule Management Plan
      • Scope Baseline
    2. Project Documents
      • Activity Attributes
      • Activity List
      • Assumption Log
      • Basis of Estimates
      • Duration Estimates
      • Lessons Learned Register
      • Milestone List
      • Project Schedule Network Diagrams
      • Project Team Assignments
      • Resource Calendars
      • Resources Requirements
      • Risk Register
    3. Agreements
    4. Enterprise Environmental Factors
    5. Organizational Process Assets
    1. Schedule Network Analysis
    2. Critical Path Method
    3. Resource Optimization
    4. Data Analysis
      • What-if Scenarios Analysis
      • Simulation
    5. Leads and Lags
    6. Schedule Compression
    7. Project Management Information System
    8. Agile Release Planning
    1. Schedule Baseline
    2. Project Schedule
    3. Schedule Data
    4. Project Calendars
    5. Change Requests
    6. Project Management Plan Updates
      • Schedule Management Plan
      • Cost Baseline
    7. Project Document Updates
      • Activity Attributes
      • Assumption Log
      • Duration Estimates
      • Lessons Learned Register
      • Resource Requirements
      • Risk Register

    6. Control Schedule

    Control Schedule is the last process of project time management and is performed throughout the project lifecycle. In this process, the project schedule is updated based on the status of the project and accordingly the changes are molded into the schedule baseline. This process helps in maintaining the schedule baseline throughout the project development.

    This process involves various inputs, tools & techniques and outputs which I have listed into the below table:

    InputsTools & TechniquesOutputs
    1. Project Management Plan
      • Schedule Management Plan
      • Schedule Baseline
      • Scope Baseline
      • Performance Measurement Baseline
    2. Project Documents
      • Lessons Learned Register
      • Project Calendars
      • Project Schedule
      • Resource Calendars
      • Schedule Data
    3. Work Performance Data
    4. Organizational Process Assets
    1. Data Analysis
      • Earned Value Analysis
      • Iteration Burndown Chart
      • Performance Reviews
      • Trend Analysis
      • Variance Analysis
      • What-if Scenario Analysis
    2. Critical Path Method
    3. Project Management Information System
    4. Resource Optimization
    5. Leads and Lags
    6. Schedule Compression
    1. Work Performance Information
    2. Schedule Forecasts
    3. Change Requests
    4. Project Management Plan Updates
      • Schedule Management Plan
      • Schedule Baseline
      • Cost Baseline
      • Performance Measurement Baseline
    5. Project Documents Updates
      • Assumption Log
      • Basis of Estimates
      • Lessons Learned Register
      • Project Schedule
      • Resource Calendars
      • Risk Register
      • Schedule Data

    With this, we come to the end of this Project Time Management article which covered one of the 10 Knowledge Areas of the project management framework. If you wish to learn more about project management methodologies or project management certifications, you can check my other articles as well.

    If you found this “Project Time Management” article relevant, check out the PMP® Certification Exam Training by Edureka, a trusted online learning company with a network of more than 250,000 satisfied learners spread across the globe. 

    Got a question for us? Please mention it in the comments section of this Project Time Management article and we will get back to you.

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