Project scheduling
March 2, 2022

How Can Project Scheduling Make Your Project a Success?

By Shubhangi Pandey

Even the best project teams can get confused without a schedule.

Project scheduling is an often overlooked art.

There’s more to it than simply setting deadlines and calling it a day.

In this article, we’re going to help you create a project schedule that’s going to lead you and your team to success.

Let’s take a look!


What Is Project Scheduling?

Project scheduling is a method of organizing tasks that need to be completed when working on a project.

It typically includes the following elements:

  • Tasks
  • Resources
  • Milestones
  • Dependencies
  • Timeframes / deadlines
  • Responsibilities and assignments.


Consequently, a project schedule is a document that aggregates all of these moving parts and turns them into a coherent tool for answering the question: Who needs to do what, and when?

The best project schedule examples often contain interactive elements and real-time updates with the help of project scheduling tools.


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The Benefits of Project Scheduling

Project scheduling is one of the best ways to ensure that your project runs smoothly.

If you’ve created an accurate, realistic schedule, you and your project team will be able to complete the project without a hitch.

When you adhere to a project schedule, you can easily see if there are any risks or obstacles.

For example, if you notice that the project may need some changes, you can communicate with the client and review your change policy.

Without a schedule, you wouldn’t have noticed it until the last minute.

But with a schedule, your vision is 20/20 and you’ll notice problems even before they occur.

Project scheduling is also a great way of securing stakeholder approval, and improving the stakeholders’ perception of the project.

When you have a document you can point stakeholders to (top management and your clients included), they can easily see that the project is progressing as planned.

And if it isn’t progressing as planned, you can easily show them how changes and setbacks will (or will not) affect the project as a whole.

Project scheduling improves communication, as well, especially if you are using project scheduling tools.

You won’t have to update clients constantly if they can review your progress with a tool like Microsoft 365.

Finally, if you create a project schedule, you’ll see the big picture.

You’ll be able to strategize and control every aspect of the project, instead of letting the project control you.

Ultimately, project scheduling will increase your productivity and reduce your costs.

What’s there not to love about project schedules?


Types of Project Management Schedules

Depending on the type of project, you can choose one of the many project scheduling methods.

However, first, you need to plan your project right.


Laying the Groundwork: Planning Your Project

When you’re getting ready to create a project schedule, you first have to establish:

  • Establish individual tasks
  • Establish milestones
  • Establish a length of time

For example, if your project is building a house, your project plan would look something like this:

  • Pour the foundation by September
  • Build the house by December
  • Build the roof by January

At this point, you should establish the order in which the tasks have to be performed.

In order to determine timeframes, you can use your past experience or consult your project team.

When you’ve planned out the tasks, it’s time to create the schedule with one of the following methods:


1. Critical Path Project Scheduling Method

The CPM is actually one of the most straightforward project scheduling methods.

It operates on the principle of predecessor and successor tasks.

For example, in order to build the roof, the house must first be built.

So if you use CPM, you’ll have a much clearer understanding of task dependencies and what the project schedule has to look like in order to successfully complete the project.

When you’re creating a CPM project schedule, you’re actually sequencing tasks in a way that gets the project completed in the shortest time possible by establishing the most important tasks.

You can also include less important tasks and prioritize work accordingly.

Next to every task, you can also define how much time it’ll take to complete it. Again, you can use your historical data or estimates from your project team.

CPM is incredibly beneficial to smaller teams handling multiple projects at once, or working on complex projects.

However, it’s an asset to any project manager that wants to create a viable project schedule.


How a detailed CPM Project Schedule would often look like:

  • Break down the project into tasks
  • Identify the most important tasks, timeframes, and dependencies
  • Draw the diagram and add the tasks to it as a sequences according to dependencies defined in step 2
  • Estimate completion time for each activity
  • Identify the critical path to be taken to complete the project in the shortest possible time
  • Update the critical path as you work on the project

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2. Create a Project Schedule with Gantt Charts

Gantt charts are possibly one of the most popular ways to create a project schedule.

They’re incredibly effective, after all.

In a nutshell, Gantt charts are horizontal charts based on timeframes. Each bar represents an activity, and its length depends on the time it’ll take to complete it.

Some bars are sequences (if the tasks are dependent on one another), while others can be parallel (the tasks are not dependent).

The bars define the length of each task, allowing you to understand how much time you’ll need to complete the project.

Depending on your project scheduling software, the Gantt chart may update automatically as soon as there are changes to any sequential tasks.


3. Resource-Oriented Project Scheduling

In some cases, your main concern will be the lack of resources other than time.

Now, normally you’d use CPM or Gantt charts to create project schedules.

However, in this case, you can also use resource-oriented project scheduling that emphasizes resource constraints.

In order to create it, you should set up a diagram that shows:

  • The number of resources
  • Required tasks
  • Timeframes.


This project schedule example has an HR constraint; they don’t have enough crew members to work on dedicated projects.

In order to create a project schedule, they’ve planned out how the crews’ work should be performed, keeping optimal time and the number of activities in mind.

However, one thing to be careful with resource-oriented scheduling method is task dependencies.

The main goal of this method is to efficiently utilize all the resources available. Your diagram has to include dependencies in the activities themselves.

So if you’re working on a project with many moving parts, it may be better to opt-out of this method.


Manage Your Project Schedule with Project Central

Normally, you’d construct all of your critical paths and schedules in Excel.

That takes a lot of time – time you could spend on more important things.

Fortunately, you can also create your project schedule with Project Central for Microsoft 365.  While there are several advanced project planning and scheduling techniques, as above, Project Central can help you:

  • Get a complete view of your project schedule
  • Organize and prioritize tasks and deadlines
  • Easily update the timeline as plans change
  • Update task information right from the Gantt


Manage your project schedule with Project Central for Microsoft 365


This way, you’ll be benefiting from the visual approach to project management from the get-go.

All you’ll have to do is enter the tasks and other project-related information.

The best part is: as soon as you log in, you’ll see how your project is going. And with a great project schedule, you won’t just stay on track, but also succeed before you know it!


Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness, accuracy, and freshness.

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