Have you ever wondered why seventy-eight of the projects go past the project schedule, deliver poor results, and go past the budget put in place during construction project planning?
Maybe, it could be as a result of the project schedule being drafted early with no sufficient inputs, hence lacking the direction from the start of the project.
In this post, I’ll walk you through all you need to know about a project schedule, how you can schedule a project realistically, and the difference that lies between a project schedule and a project plan.
That said, let’s dive in.
Overview: The Difference Between a Project Schedule and Project Plan
According to the PMBOK Guide, a project plan is a formal and approved document that guides the project implementation, as well as the project control to get the desired results. Some companies use a work plan instead of a project plan, which is the same thing.
In other words, a project plan refers to a comprehensive document that outlines the scope of the project, the project expenses, the assumptions that come with planning, baseline budget, among others, to enhance communication during the project with the stakeholders.
From this definition, a project plan refers to a roadmap that will guide the entire project, providing the deliverables, as well as the dates.
On the other hand, a project schedule refers to the dates planned for implementing the project’s activities, as well as the scheduled dates to meet the deadlines or milestones.
In other words, a project schedule is a presentation of all the implementations in a project required to deliver the results. There are some project management tools such as the Gantt Chart, Critical Path Method, Network Diagrams that can help with the creation of project schedules.
Suggested Read: Construction project management: design and process
The 3 Critical Questions You Need to Ask Yourself
- What is my schedule model?
I guessed it right: you are probably wondering why your schedule model matters in project management, but this is why you need a schedule model.
It would help if you considered the software available and the approach you will take to make sure that your scheduling is consistent.
- What is my unit of measurement?
Now, this is quite critical, and there are a few questions that will help you answer the original question – what is my unit measurement?
- What will I portray on the Gantt Chart?
- Should I represent my estimate in hours or days?
- What should it be between working hours, calendar hours or effective hours?
- Should I consider tracking the efforts together with the duration each task will take?
If you can answer these questions correctly, there’s no doubt you will make a rational decision towards your construction project schedule.
- What is your variance threshold?
And finally, you need to define your variance threshold. Sure, you don’t frequently want to modify your schedule – you need to make it clear whether failure to meet a deadline in one-two or three days calls for a corrective measure.
How to Create a Construction Project Schedule Realistically
- Jot down your tasks
Project schedules should focus on the implementations because they usually reflect on the inter dependencies that exist between the work packages and the deliverable.
For efficient construction project planning, project managers can come up with a project charter as well as a project scope to break down the project structure.
The project charter and the project scope are critical to drafting a list of tasks. In most cases, you will realize that each task links to different aspects—for example, constraints, stakeholders and requirements, deliverables, etc.
Additionally, each of the activities will have adequate information required for planning and monitoring the project. And once you have defined the tasks, you need now to draw the sequence of these tasks. You will need to look into each task and know which activity depends on another task.
- Give an estimate of the resources available
Once you have your activities, you should define what resources you will need to carry out a successful project.
And you should know that you’ll not have 100 percent turnout of all your project team to execute the project because some of them will be taking part in other projects.
In this stage, you will need to use the resources available to assign activities. Maybe, you can do this: Subdivide the activities and assign one task to one available resource. This can help you prevent cases when a resource is allocated to many tasks.
Sure, at times, your project schedule may seem too large, but the reality is that it gives you the freedom to allocate the available resources accordingly.
- Assignment of duration
You are almost, but don’t let your guard down just yet – you still need to do a few things to ensure that your project will run smoothly and successfully. That said, you need to assign the duration for each activity at this stage.
The duration is the time taken to complete a task. If the assignment of duration is correct, each activity can be achieved using the resources allocated for it and promptly. That said, you have options to either define your activities duration in either hours, days, weeks or even months.
Also, the way you define your duration will impact the resources available significantly, so you should do this right. Additionally, you need to keep in mind the effort-driven tasks because such tasks will depend on a ton of resources. In a nutshell, you can allocate several resources to such tasks to speed the completion.
Bottom Line – It’s Time to Track Your Project
Every project manager is different. Some will leverage technology, while others will go old school.
When you have developed a construction project schedule, you need to know how better you’ll be able to track it.
You can use the bar chart, which allows you to include dates, resources needed, and other critical components.
Additionally, you could make good use of the free online templates, smartphone applications, as well as smart sheets.
The point is that you use what you are comfortable with, and be clear to your team and let them know about how you prefer to track their tasks.
Also, make sure that you have developed a construction timeline and share it with your project workforce. This will help your project team to understand better what is needed.
That’s it! With this guide on the project schedule; how to schedule a project realistically, you can now do it. Take action now – today.