Project scheduling is important because it is an integral part of the project planning process. A project can not run without a project plan. Scheduling establishes the timelines, delivery and availability of project resources, whether they be personnel, inventory or capital. For this reason, any project without a schedule is a project doomed to issues down the road.
What is Project Scheduling?
As related to project management, a project schedule is defined by The Boldt Company as "a schedule wherein [project] activities are assigned a duration and sequenced in a logical order." Each activity will consist of a combination of tasks, as well as the resources and budget required to perform the tasks. Project managers must strategically define each activity to ensure that the project moves smoothly and logically with minimum delays and work stoppages.
Why is Project Scheduling Important?
Although project scheduling is not an exact process, not having a project schedule will guarantee that a project will fail. The project schedule is used to estimate what resources are needed at what time and for how long. It's an essential section of the project plan as the schedule offers a guide as to how the the project will progress.
The key ingredient in project scheduling and planning process is experience. For example, the project scheduling process requires the estimation of the time needed to complete a specific task prior to moving on to the next task. Estimating this duration requires the input of someone who is experienced in accomplishing each task. In fact, according to Management-Hub.com, the depth of "experienced input" feeding each task on the schedule will determine whether or not the schedule is real or a wish list. For this reason, experienced input must feed the scheduling process. This experienced input can come from internal talent or outside consultants.
Project Scheduling Tools
When create a project schedule, many industry professionals use a Gantt chart. As stated by GanttChart.com, the Gantt chart is "a graphical representation of the duration of tasks against the progression of time." Project managers and schedulers can use the chart to plan and chart project tasks at whatever level of detail they choose.
Where to Find a Gantt Chart
Several off-the-shelf software tools have Gantt charts built in, including Microsoft Project, which is designed for comprehensive large scale corporate projects, and Microsoft Excel, which can be used for small or immediate level projects.