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Schedule Planning

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A schedule represents an agreement for executing a project or program. It should reflect all activities (steps, events, required work, and outcomes) to accomplish the deliverables described in the program’s WBS. The schedule should reflect all effort necessary to successfully complete the project or program, regardless of who performs it. Failing to include all work for all deliverables, regardless of whether they are the client’s, vendor’s or the contractor’s responsibility, can hamper project members’ understanding of the plan completely and affect the project’s progression toward a successful conclusion.
  1. Establish Schedule Requirements 
    The schedule planning process begins with the determination of the baseline milestones. These level 1 and 2 milestones with their planned dates form the master schedule for the project. The baseline milestones and their associated definitions are mutually developed by the Project Manager and the Project Customer. They are re-examined and rescheduled, if necessary, during customer reviews.

    *Warning, Milestones are often established by business needs without having a good understanding of what work must be done or how long it will take based on historical experience. 
  2. Identify Activities
    The estimate facilitates the activities and WBS that will be entered into the schedule. The WBS and activities can either be imported or manually entered into the project schedule. Some activities that will not be defined on the estimate are the external activities that are done by outside sources such as client and vendor reviews and deliverables. It is important to have a meeting with the Project team to decide what these items might be.
  3. Incorporate the Procurement Plan
    Taking special notice of how the plan interacts with the engineering and construction activities.
  4. Develop Activity Logic
    Once a set of activities is identified, they must be sequenced logically. The logic reflects the dependencies or relationships between activities. The preferred method is by using precedence diagramming. First, start with activities within a WBS bucket, and then work your way out and connect the logic between the individual buckets.

    *Keep special note of required inter-discipline logic, and external logic required from client / vendor reviews or deliverables 
  5. Estimate Durations
    The duration of planned activities is estimated to calculate estimated start and finish dates based on the work, resources, the resource availability, and the resource expected performance rate (units/day). If the duration of the plan does not achieve the milestone dates or other (e.g., funding) requirements, the planned activity’s duration or logic may be revised as needed (e.g., adjusting the schedule). 
  6. Allocate Resources
    Each activity consumes resources. By assigning (i.e., loading) resources for each activity, available resources can be scheduled in accordance with resource limitations (i.e., money, labour hours, etc.) by resource leveling or balancing. During the schedule optimization phase, the duration of activities might change in order to keep resource usage or expenditure rates within planned limits or budget constraints. Doing so may affect agreed upon milestone completion dates. 
  7. Optimize Schedule
    Optimization or levelling of the schedule refers to a simulation method that has a goal of finding an optimum output. This process step may be a manual exercise wherein the scheduler, based on his or her judgment and team input and feedback, iteratively modifies the plan and schedule inputs until the most satisfactory schedule is obtained. It may also be a structured Monte Carlo simulation to determine a quantitative evaluation of the probability of achieving the schedule. 
  8. Establish Schedule Control Basis
    With an integrated control process, schedule activities are coded in accordance with the WBS levels, which facilitate schedule performance measurement and assessment. One of the outputs of the scheduling process is the basis for schedule performance measurement and assessment. How are we going to measure ourselves? 

Deliverables derived from this process and provided for Stakeholder review and project control plan implementation include the following: 

  • The Milestone Plan. The plan includes a list and descriptions of the activities with their planned milestone date information (e.g., start and finish dates). 
  • Schedule Control Baseline. A time-phased, logically linked, resource loaded (cost and hours) schedule of all activities to be measured and assessed. 
  • The Basis of Schedule. Includes a description of the activities and resources covered, included methodologies, standards, references and defined deliverables, assumptions, inclusions and exclusions made, key milestones and constraints, calendars, and some indication of the level of risk and uncertainty used to establish schedule contingency 
  • Schedule Progress Plan. The Basis of schedule should also include a description of how project performance will be measured and assessed with respect to the schedule including rules for earning progress and the procedures for evaluating progress and forecasting remaining durations.
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