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Schedule Management Plan requires thinking proactively before executing the project. It involves thinking through several points, including:
Individuals involved in the scheduling process
The approach required to plan a schedule of the process
Use of organizational processes and procedures
Tools used for scheduling
Method to manage and control the project to schedule baseline and manage any deviations
The schedule management plan is created as a part of Develop Management Plan process in Integration Management. A project manager must create a schedule management plan and it is observed that in real-world scenarios most of the project managers miss on this important aspect. A schedule management plan should include the methodology used to create the schedule. The project manager should also describe the use of scheduling software. He should identify the measurement guidelines i.e. should he measure the process progress in hours, days, weeks, months or quarters. The schedule management plan should also include the duration of each activity and the efforts required for those activities. All of this should establish the project baseline. This baseline is to be used to monitor and control the project during various phases.
The project manager should also include a plan to mitigate any variances observed in the schedule. Change Control Procedure should be in place to manage schedule changes. Reporting requirements should also be established. As described earlier, the measures of performance need to be planned in advance and then captured and reported. Schedule management plan is a part of the project management plan and can be formal or informal. It expedites the schedule estimation process by providing guidelines on how estimates should be stated. During the monitor and control phase, the deviation from the schedule baseline can be analyzed and acted upon. Reporting of the project is also determined by the schedule management plan.
In scope management, we had created a WBS. WBS resulted in Work packages. Work packages are used as inputs in the Define activities process. These work packages are broken down further into activities to ensure that work packages are delivered. Each activity is then estimated, scheduled, monitored and managed. Thus, these activities should be small enough. Sequencing of these activities is the next process. For defining activities, a project manager needs two critical things:
Scope baseline (scope statement, WBS and WBS dictionary)
Availability of a project team
Defining the activities involve making the estimates. Involving the team early on in defining activities ensures that the estimates are more accurate.
When the project manager is defining the activities, there may be too many components to adequately break-down the components and schedule it. In these situations, the project manager’s use a technique called “rolling wave planning”. In this method, the project manager need not plan all the details of the project right at the start. He can plan activities to the detail needed to manage the work only when he starts that phase of the project lifecycle. There is a likelihood that project managers can use this planning method as an excuse for not planning the project appropriately. This is not advisable. Activity list and Activity Attributes are two outcomes of Define Activities process. Activity attributes are the documentation of the details of the activities. Milestones are also to be determined in the Define Activities process.
Timeline for each of the defined activities is not considered as a milestone. Milestones are interim deliverables of the project schedule. A summary of milestones is included in the project charter. For controlling the project, a project manager can impose milestones (like a sponsor) during the Sequence Activities or Develop Schedule processes. Deviations from the planned activities are detected when the milestone arrives and the project has not completed the activities required for the milestone. A list of appropriate milestones is created as a part of the Define Activities process. This milestone list becomes a part of the project management plan and is added to the project scope statement and WBS dictionary as part of iterations in planning.
The output of Define Activities is a list of activities and milestones. In sequence activities process, these activities and milestones are sequenced in the order of work performance. The output of Sequence Activities is a Network Diagram also known as project schedule network diagram. Network diagram and PERT charts are different.
PRECEDENCE DIAGRAMMING METHOD (PDM) or ACTIVITY-ON-NODE (AON)
Finish-to-Start (FS): The successor can start only after an activity finishes. This is the most commonly used relationship. Example: You must open the “can” of soft-drink before you start to drink it.
Start-to-Start (SS): The successor can start only after an activity starts. Example: You must start creating a presentation and wait for the one-week lag in order to have enough slides completed to start the voice-over recording.
Finish-to-Finish (FF): The successor can finish only after an activity finishes. Example: You must finish the pilot before you finish gathering the complete feedback.
Start-to-Finish (SF): The successor can finish only after an activity starts. This relationship is rarely used.
LEADS AND LAGS
A lead may be used to indicate that an activity can start before its predecessor activity is completed. For example, editing of a book may start before the write-up is finished. A lag is inserted waiting time between activities, such as needing to wait for completion of the application testing before the final roll-out of the application. Sequence Activities process can also result in the identification of new risks. It may also lead to updates to the activity list and activity attributes.