How To Make a Project Schedule: Definitive Guide to Project SchedulingJune 1, 2021 2021-06-01 19:43
How To Make a Project Schedule: Definitive Guide to Project Scheduling
How To Make a Project Schedule: Definitive Guide to Project Scheduling
Project scheduling can help you meet deadlines, allocate organizational resources better, and ensure proper delegation of tasks to team members.
This article details the processes and techniques involved in using a project scheduling tool like ClickUp to create a project schedule when managing a project from its vision to completion.
Project Scheduling Basics
Who Manages A Project Schedule?
Project managers looking to monitor and control their project activities and determine the best means of resource allocation to achieve their project goals within a desired deadline and budget make use of a project schedule.
The project schedule is accessible to both the stakeholders and team members and is fundamental in communicating critical information to every person involved in the project’s execution. Almost all organizations make use of project scheduling tools to be better organized and to improve communication, especially when handling complex projects.
What is Project Scheduling?
A project schedule is a timetable that consists of sequenced project activities, deliverables, resources, and overall project milestones on a timeline used to plan, monitor, and execute a project at hand. In its simplest form, a project schedule is a chart of tasks with associated start and end dates of when the tasks are expected to occur.
It indicates what needs to be done at what time, and what resources need to be allocated in order to deliver a project under a given deadline. The schedule is regularly updated to better reflect the current progress of the project.
Why Create A Project Schedule Using Project Scheduling Software?
Creating a project schedule is an essential part of the planning stage of project management. Equipped with a project schedule, a project manager is able to effectively communicate the project status to all stakeholders.
Using this software, they can keep track of what needs to be done and what resources are going to be needed to complete the project along the way so that they can eliminate unnecessary costs and bottlenecks.
Embracing the power of project scheduling will not only help you organize your objectives and prioritize your goals, but it will also motivate you to get more work done and increase your productivity.
For team members, a project schedule shows who is responsible for what task and provides milestones to help teams achieve their goals on time so that the project runs smoothly. Overall, a project schedule transforms the client’s vision of the project into an operational timeline using the project plan, scope, and costs.
With essential features that allow you to monitor tasks, resources, and costs, project scheduling software makes the project scheduling process much easier and empowers you with clear goals, planning, and timelines.
A comprehensive project management software like ClickUp, for example, offers its users the convenience of interactive Gantt Charts that can be used to assign tasks, link-dependent tasks, and much more.
Without project scheduling software, creating and maintaining a schedule becomes a very time-consuming and cumbersome process that is prone to errors. Additionally, project scheduling software gives you a more accurate and reliable picture of the project requirements. This allows you to identify potential issues early on and communicate to clients if any deadlines aren’t feasible so that you can better plan for the project.
Project Scheduling Steps
When done right, project scheduling is the key to project success. However, some people find creating a schedule on a project roadmap a difficult process when they are not familiar with it. To make things easy, we’ve broken down the process of how you can create a detailed project schedule into these few simple steps:
Step 1: Identify Goals
If your team doesn’t know what it’s working towards, it’s less likely to be able to do an effective job. Hence, it’s important that you determine your project goals and project scope to gain a better understanding of what you’re trying to deliver. Project management tools like ClickUp have a feature that makes setting project goals very simple. You can even break your goals down into smaller achievable targets in terms of:
Step 2: Set Up Milestones
Once you’ve determined your project goals, you can create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) where you can break down your project into chunks of tasks as checkpoints in the timeline of your project. These are called milestones. You can set these up on ClickUp to show that you’re making progress when you achieve these milestones. Just select the option of ‘Mark as Milestone’ to highlight any task as a milestone.
Step 3: Create Tasks
Tasks are small activities that need to be completed to reach the final goal, and it’s vital that these tasks are mapped out so that your team knows what they have to do. You can add custom tasks, subtasks, checklists and you can also sequence these tasks using tags and priorities. You can also save a certain task as a template so that you don’t have to waste time creating a task from scratch next time.
Step 4: Identify Task Dependencies
Some tasks are dependent on others. You can link these dependencies in your schedule as:
- Waiting on: certain tasks need to be completed before this task can be started;
- Blocked: can’t start another task until this one is complete;
- Link to: tasks are related to one another but aren’t dependent.
Step 5: Add Time Estimates For Each Task
One of the most crucial steps in creating a productive project schedule is estimating how much time each task will take. The best way to estimate the time durations of various tasks is to use previous project data. Setting up time estimates on your schedule will help you build a timeline you can monitor to make sure your project is on track.
Step 6: Assign Tasks
Once you’ve created tasks, you can use the ‘Assign Tasks’ feature to delegate tasks to different team members so that you can divide and conquer. You can assign a task to a single person, a group, or even the whole team. A Workload Chart will help you keep track of who’s working on what.
Step 7: Build A Timeline
Once you’ve assigned tasks, it’s time for you to create a visual roadmap with timed tasks. You can use one of several project timeline features in ClickUp to handle your projects such as Gantt Chart or Timeline View.
Step 8: Assign Resources
In addition to time estimates, you can also add the number of resources required to complete an activity to its corresponding task. Tasks can’t be completed without resources and resource management – you are at the risk of going way over your budget. With resources assigned to specific tasks, you can better plan your budget.
Once you’ve assigned resources to each task, you can review your project schedule and send it for approval by any concerned party. Sharing via the cloud makes communication between different parties much easier with project management tools like ClickUp.
Project Scheduling Techniques
Project managers can make use of different project scheduling techniques to increase the reliability of their time estimates in their project schedules and minimize the risk of not completing certain tasks on time.
Critical Path Method (CPM)
The Critical Path Method is a scheduling procedure that is used to depict the bare minimum sequence of tasks you have to complete to finish a project. These are all essential tasks that need to be completed or else your project will remain incomplete.
With the Critical Path Method, you can bypass unnecessary or, better known as high-float tasks, that can be put aside for some time without causing a delay in the overall project and finish the ones that are vital to the completion of your project. You can also allocate more resources to the project’s critical path to reduce the completion time of your project.
The tasks in the critical path have clear start and end times, with each task connected to the previous one, often shown by means of a Gantt Chart. To use the CPM method, you need to determine your project’s scope, the tasks which are necessary for the project’s completion, and the amount of time each task may take. You also need to determine all the dependencies between the tasks before you can map out your milestones and tasks on your Gantt Chart.
Most people use complex critical path algorithms and network diagrams to manually calculate the critical path, but with the right project scheduling software like ClickUp, the tool estimates your variables and conducts the CPM scheduling for you. With it, you can instantly determine the critical path of your project.
Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)
One of the most important aspects of the project scheduling process is making realistic estimates of the time it would take to complete a task, as it helps you make crucial decisions related to your budget and task delegations. The PERT technique is a system used in the proper scheduling of tasks by identifying the amount of time it takes to finish a task.
A PERT chart is used to layout the project timeline as a network diagram with the nodes representing milestones and arrows representing tasks and their sequence. This chart helps visualize complex projects, analyze tasks, and determine the least amount of time required for the completion of the project.
Using a PERT chart can help a project manager make more reliable and accurate timelines, making the project more manageable. Additionally, it empowers project managers with the ability to determine definite completion dates of their projects so that they can always deliver their projects on time. However, many find that PERT charts may be hard to interpret, update, and maintain, so they choose to go with the CPM technique.
Tools to Create A Project Schedule
There are several tools that can help you create a master project schedule in ClickUp. Some of these tools are:
1. Gantt Charts
Gantt Charts are the most commonly used tools in project scheduling. ClickUp allows you to create Gantt Charts, providing you a visual into the project’s status with a quick estimate of the time required to finish the project. The chart gives an overview of how many tasks are left, their durations, and any dependencies. It builds a dynamic timeline of your project that allows project managers to manage their dependencies, handle any potential bottlenecks, and organize their tasks.
2. Project Calendar
ClickUp offers one-way sync between the tasks in your project schedule and your external calendar apps such as Apple or Outlook Calendars. The project calendar will show the timelines of all the tasks in your project and highlight any overlaps. You can use due dates to add deadlines for activities and also design custom notifications to be sent when a due date is near.
ClickUp’s organized project hierarchy gives you a structured space to streamline your project workflow. Implementing a work breakdown structure significantly helps plan projects more effectively. Priorities lets you notify your project teams of what needs to be done first and dependencies ensure that they perform tasks in the right order. With task templates, you don’t have to rebuild a task or a milestone every time. Instead, you can efficiently create pre-saved common tasks instantly.
Managing Project Schedule
To ensure that the project is completed on time, the project manager must continuously monitor the project progress – revising the schedule if needed in consultation with their project team. It is also the project manager’s job to relay information about the project’s current status and any changes in the schedule to everyone involved in the project.
But with so many responsibilities on their shoulders, all of these tasks can become quite overwhelming for a project manager managing multiple projects at a time. With the help of project management software solutions such as ClickUp, managers can effectively manage their project’s schedule by automating some of their most time-consuming tasks.
Let’s see how a good project management solution such as ClickUp can be used to help manage a detailed project schedule.
The ability to prioritize tasks really comes in handy when urgent problems arise or when you’re running short of time. The best online project scheduling tools enable you to prioritize your activities within your schedule so that your team knows which ones to complete first and which ones to do at their convenience. In ClickUp, you can categorize your tasks based on your priority with four flags:
- Urgent (Red)
- High Priority (Yellow)
- Normal Priority (Blue)
- Low Priority (Grey)
By using a project planning tool like ClickUp that has scheduled time slots, you can also easily make adjustments in your schedule with every other task adjusting automatically without having to manually reschedule the whole project plan.
Project management software gives you the power to move entire spaces, team members, and task dependencies on your project schedule without having to remap starting times, ending times, and due dates manually.
When managing your project schedule, it is extremely important to have everyone’s tasks and responsibilities outlined in front of you. ClickUp’s sidebar gives you a bird’s-eye view of all the tasks in one place and allows you to organize the task list into your own custom dashboards.
This helps project managers in their task management duties by allowing them to track the project progress in real-time, delegate new tasks to team members, and avoid any sort of miscommunication.
It goes without saying that the most fundamental feature of a project scheduling software is the ability to assign team members tasks and set deadlines for each task. You can drag and drop a task to any team member almost instantly.
Adding a due date to a task also automatically sends a notification to the respective team member when the due date approaches and the task is still incomplete.
With project scheduling tools like ClickUp, you can generate customized reports that allow you to get a quick overview of your project’s status and gain better insight into your team’s performance. You can even identify any potential problems by comparing different multiple reports and using them to find a solution.
With these six reports on your project schedule in ClickUp, you can see what your team is doing and what tasks still need to be done.
- Report 1: Completed Tasks
- Report 2: Worked On
- Report 3: Team Points
- Report 4: Who’s Behind
- Report 5: Time Tracking
- Report 6: Time Estimated
Effective communication is one of the most crucial elements of a successful project. Large projects usually consist of several team members who may need to work together and access each other’s work to complete their own. Thus, it is imperative to establish an organized means of communication between members.
With cohesive collaboration tools, your team will always be on the same page. Your teams can easily share files, have discussions in the chat in the project management tool, and even send and receive emails directly from ClickUp tasks by integrating with Outlook.
Key Terms To Know for Schedule Management
Here are some key terms that are used when talking about project scheduling:
- Float: The amount of time a task can be delayed without causing a delay in the overall delivery of the complete project.
- Milestone: A major event in the project’s lifecycle.
- Lead Time: The amount of time needed to complete a task without having an effect on subsequent tasks.
- Work Breakdown Structure: A system that divides the deliverables of a project into smaller achievable tasks.
- Lag Time: The amount of time for which a successor activity has to be delayed before its predecessor activity is completed.
- Critical Path: The longest possible continuous sequence of tasks from the start of a task to the completion of the project.
- Crashing: Reducing the amount of time required to complete a critical task.
- Fast tracking: Refers to a technique where different tasks are worked on simultaneously.
The benefits of using project management software for all your project scheduling needs are endless. With a project schedule software like ClickUp by your side, you are on your way to improving efficiency and boosting productivity for all your projects.
With features such as intuitive kanban boards and Gantt Charts that give everyone a visual of the project’s progress and automated alerts to keep everyone in the loop, using a project management solution will empower your team with the tools they need to stay on schedule.
You get all of this and so much more out of a solution like ClickUp – your all-in-one project management tool.