Project scheduling is the process of putting together a time line for all the activities in the project. This involves examining the interdependencies of all of the activities, and coordinating all the tasks to ensure a smooth transition from the beginning to the end of the project. There are many different methods of scheduling, which can address the requirements of the type of project resulting in different pictorial representations of the schedules.
Critical Path Method
The Critical path method is a pictorial representation of the project that is useful for identifying the overall length of time that a project will take. It also demonstrates which activities are necessary to complete the project and those that are not as critical. In this technique, the project is represented pictorially as a network, where the nodes represent activities and the duration of an activity is represented by lines or arcs in between nodes. The duration of each activity is estimated based on industry knowledge. Before constructing a diagram, the activities need to be identified, as does the sequencing of these events. For example, activities A and B might occur simultaneously prior to activity C, producing a diagram with the following overall shape: “ >," where the upper left end would have node labeled A, the lower a node labeled B, and the point at the right side would have a node labeled C.
Program Evaluation and Review Technique
The program evaluation and review technique (PERT) is typically applied to more complex projects. Again, a network diagram is used. The activities and their duration are represented pictorially as a network in the same manner as the critical path method. However, unlike the critical path method, PERT allows for flexibility in the period of time to complete a task. Just like the critical path method the activities and their duration are defined. However, the duration is determined with the following formula: expected time = (optimistic time + 4*(most likely time) + pessimistic time)/6. Optimistic time is the shortest time that the activity can occur in and pessimistic is the longest.
Gantt charts are a pictorial representation of the phases and activities of a project, and they are typically applied to plans in a setting in which there is little variation among the projects. These charts graphically illustrate the start and end dates of a task with horizontal bars under a horizontal line representing the date. Information about the complexity or size of task is not accounted for, so a bar representing a relatively small task can have the same pictorial representation as a larger one if the timing is similar. This can cause a problem if an activity is behind schedule.