Project plans and project schedules are two of the main documents used to successfully guide a project to completion.
The project plan is the formal document used to define the manner in which the project will be managed and guided. Project plans provide the necessary actions to define and coordinate all of the subsidiary plans included within the project plan.
A project schedule is a series of tasks and associated dates for a given project. Its main purpose is to show the time line over which a project will be completed, including start and end dates for tasks.
The project plan can be described as a series of plans within a plan. This document depicts the different plans required for a project including the risk plan, communications plan, and resource plan. Additionally, stakeholders are often defined, and business objectives are detailed. The Project Management Office for an organization usually provides the required template.
Project schedules are composed of a hierarchy of activities and tasks with associated dates, which are then characterized by the duration of the project. Often the amount of resources and estimates are incorporated into the schedule and often represented by a Gantt chart.
Many tools exist in the project management industry to help create project plans and project schedules. Project plans are often a document created with a word processing tool and distributed to the project stakeholders. Project schedules are often created as part of a project management software suite or standalone scheduling tools such as Microsoft Project.