Calendar Constraints Public holidays, company days
Resource Constraints Staff holidays, Delivery schedules, equipment or asset availability
Consider the number of hours per working day This may differ on different days – and will include the non-working days in each location.
Stage 2: Task Framework
Now introduce what you need to do and what you need, to do it.
Identify the tasks to be completed These will be in your Work Breakdown Structure (see our video)
Estimate the work required to complete each task with contingency
Identify dependencies between tasks Usually, finish-to-start but can also be other forms (see our video). This will allow you to sequence your tasks
Add in any lags or leads A lag is a gap between the tasks that are dependent. For example, Task B starts after Task A is complete, with a lag of 3 days so concrete can set or a coating can cure. A lead is a negative lag. So, if Task B starts 2 days before Task A finishes, this is a Finish-to-Start dependency with a 2-day lead.
Identify resources for each task …and their availability. Then assign those resources
Calculate the duration Use the work required and resources applied. For example, a task that has a work required of 15 days, and two full-time staff allocated will have a duration of 7.5 days. If there are three people allocated ½-time, that’s a 10-day duration.
Stage 3: Analysis
This is where you turn your data into a plan.
Now you can calculate your critical path …or paths – see our video
Consider whether you have the right amount of float Not too much – not too little – especially in high-uncertainty parts of the project
Review the schedule for business sense Does this produce a consistent schedule that can deliver on time, with enough contingency? Are workloads balanced so that none of your resources are over-stressed?
If not, revise Consider how much contingency, how many resources, and where you apply them. Do you need to overlap tasks, add resources, reduce quality standards, or adjust the scope?
Stage 4 Review
Now it’s time to expose your draft schedule to critical review…
Expose your plan to scrutiny from your team They should be looking for risks and errors arising from:
Fundamental errors in project strategy
False or risky assumptions
Missing dependencies or constraints
If this is critical expose your plan to further scrutiny from an independent Red Team. They will be looking for the same kinds of mistakes.
Stage 5: Sign-off
Once you have all the comments, you are ready…
Create your final draft this is likely to be in the form of a Gantt chart. You may like our companion video, How to Create a Gantt Chart in 9 Easy Steps
Submit your draft for sign-off by your client, sponsor, project Board, or Steering Group
Up-issue the final draft (with any amendments) to version 1
Place your schedule under version control (we have a video)
Recommended Videos to Help with Project Scheduling
I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own.
Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.