Projects are generally complicated and temporary efforts. Therefore, a comprehensive plan will have a vital role to guide the execution of projects towards projects predefined strategic goals. The key benefit of Project Time Management is to provide a “roadmap” that represents how, when and by whom the project will deliver the products defined in the scope of work and the main objective of developing project schedule as a result of Project Time Management is to determine the duration required for accomplishing all activities required to produce project scope deliverables. The developed schedule supports the project team in communication, what-if analysis, stakeholder management, cost estimation, budgeting, effective resource planning, and efficient coordination within the project and with other projects, risk identification, taking preventive and corrective actions which are essential to achieve project objectives effectively.
The steps for developing and maintaining a comprehensive and effective time management plan of a project include selecting scheduling method, scheduling tool and model, collecting and entering relevant data into the selected tool(s), generating schedule model, reviewing progress, changes and updating project schedule model status. The last three steps may occur repeatedly on an approved periodic interval based on project nature, duration and complexity until the project delivers the agreed deliverables successfully or, on special circumstances, is terminated.
The main challenge of a project manager is to convert the technical and environmental data acquired from the contract to a manageable model to cope with all of the complexities, risks, cost overruns and invariable deadlines. Converting project data into a presentable model provides an opportunity in which the project team can effectively communicate project requirements, risks and status with all major stakeholders. Scheduling methods is a way that brings common language inside the project environment and helps project managers achieve these goals. The most used methods are:
These methods provide a framework by which a project schedule model can be developed and maintained. They form the basis for planning activities and enable project managers to plan and control resource usage. They provide a basis for obtaining decision-making information and create a form for generating what-if scenarios and analytical reports.
The most commonly used method is the Critical Path Method (CPM) which is used to identify the project longest path and determine the scheduling flexibility on the project network diagram within the schedule model.
One of the most common project management software tools is the scheduling tool. They are used for creating activities lists, sequencing, assigning resources and levelling and estimating durations. They can also be used for producing information on cost accounts, early determination of risks, analysing critical path, project progress trend, and estimation of duration and cost at completion. There are a variety of different scheduling tools in the market like MS Project, Primavera, Suretrack and sophistication and details depend on the type and features of tool the project team has selected to use.
In the project management profession, project schedules are used to guide the execution of the project as well as to communicate, both vertically and horisontally, to all participants and contributors to the project when certain activities and events are expected to happen. Gathering and entering project time-related data such as activities list, duration, resources, and dependencies into scheduling tools creates the schedule model which is specific for a project. The scheduling model provides a tool that enables the project team to analyse possible alternative solutions for project execution. It provides a basis for predicting the project outcomes and comparing them with major stakeholders’ expectations to choose better options.
Projects are usually conducted in a changing environment and as they progress the changes happen. For controlling changes and updating project status, the project team needs to establish two processes for reporting progress and controlling changes on a systematic approach. The major benefit of this step is to provide the project team with capabilities to recognise the deviations from the project baseline and take corrective and preventative actions to minimise the risks and manage changes in a documented process.
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