126.96.36.199 Scheduling of Activities
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Scheduling follows estimates of the time for each activity and is a very crucial step in the Planning Phase since a plan can only show the feasibility of achieving its objectives when the activities are put together in a schedule that defines when each activity will be carried out.
In order to proceed with scheduling you need the following inputs:
There are many different approaches to scheduling. The steps can either be done manually or a computer tool (software) can be used. Project Management Software (like Microsoft Project, Primavera etc) is widely used to assist with schedule development.
The project schedule includes at least the start and finish dates of each activity and their duration (in days, weeks, months, etc). It can also include information concerning the responsible for the implementation of each action. It may be presented in summary form or in detail; graphically or in a tabular form. More specifically, the following formats are the ones most commonly in use:
Arrows connecting the activities/tasks represent the relationship between the activities/ tasks they connect.
The Gantt chart is an excellent tool for quickly assessing the status of a project, therefore is suitable for management presentations, for status reports and for communicating information regarding the progress of a project to all stakeholders.
The Gantt chart can be developed using Software Packages like MS Project, Primavera Project Planner (P3), Project Scheduler (PS8), etc.
PERT6 [ PERT was developed in the late 1950’s for the U.S Navy’s Polaris project having thousands of contractors. ] chart, is a network-based aid for planning and scheduling the many interrelated tasks in a large and complex project. Common Software Packages like MS Project, Primavera Project Planner (P3), and Project Scheduler (PS8) can create a PERT chart from a Gantt chart.
PERT charts are more complicated than the Cantt charts and should be avoided in management presentations.
In Annex 7-1/ Sheet "Activities Schedule" a tool for preparing a project schedule in excel format is presented. In addition a completed example (for the Project “Improving the implementing capacity of the Cypriot Authorities) is also presented in the Sheet “Activities Schedule Example”. This tool is used for developing a “baseline schedule”, as well as for tracking the activities’ progress during the project implementation period (refer to 7.5.1).
The critical path is the series of tasks that dictates the calculated finish date of the project. That is, when the last task in the critical path is completed, the project is completed. If it is important for a project to finish on schedule, special attention should be given to the tasks on the critical path and the resources assigned to them.
Each task on the critical path is a critical task. In a typical project many tasks have some slack and can therefore be delayed a little without affecting the project finish date. Those tasks that cannot be delayed without affecting the project finish date are the critical tasks.
A task becomes critical when it meets any one of the following conditions:
Because of the important relationship between critical tasks and the project end date, the Project Manager must always be cognizant of the critical path and understand how it is affected when tasks are being modified to resolve over allocations, costs are being adjusted, the scope is being revised or changes are made to the Project Schedule.
Microsoft Project defines a task as critical if it has zero days of slack, but the user of the Software Package (the Project Manager) can change the definition of a critical task. For example he can define a task as critical if it has one or two days slack. This can be helpful if the Project Manager wants to be alerted to tasks becoming critical when there are still one or two days of buffer. The critical path is shown in both Gantt and PERT charts produced by Software Packages. In case of MS Project, the critical path is being highlighted when using the Detail Gantt view or the Network Diagram view (PERT).
If the Project Manager wishes to bring in the project finish date, he needs to bring in the dates of the critical path tasks. This is also known as “crashing”. In order to do this, the Project Manager can:
However, the Project Manager has to be aware that if he brings in the dates of the primarily critical path, a different series of tasks could become the new critical path. In this case this new series must be tracked and monitored very closely to ensure the expected/desired finish date.
In Annex 7-2 guidance7 [ Part of Chapter 11: PERT for Project Planning and Scheduling from Practical Optimization: a Gentle Introduction written by Professor John W. Chinneck, Carleton University, Canada’s Capital University. ] on how to find the critical path of a project without using a Software Package is being provided.
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