Schedule (project management)

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In project management, a schedule is a listing of a project's milestones, activities, and deliverables, usually with intended start and finish dates. Those items are often estimated by other information included in the project schedule of resource allocation, budget, task duration, and linkages of dependencies and scheduled events. A schedule is commonly used in the project planning and project portfolio management parts of project management. Elements on a schedule may be closely related to the work breakdown structure (WBS) terminal elements, the Statement of work, or a Contract Data Requirements List.


In many industries, such as engineering and construction, the development and maintenance of the project schedule is the responsibility of a full-time scheduler or team of schedulers, depending on the size of the project. Though the techniques of scheduling are well developed,[1] they are inconsistently applied throughout industry. Standardization and promotion of scheduling best practices are being pursued by the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (AACE), the Project Management Institute (PMI),[2] and the US Government for acquisition[3] and accounting[4] purposes.

It should be noted that project management is not limited to industry; the average person can use it to organize their own life. Some examples are:

  • Homeowner renovation project
  • Keeping track of all the family activities
  • Coaching a team
  • Planning a vacation
  • Planning a wedding

Some project management software programs provide templates, lists, and example schedules to help their users with creating their schedule.


Before a project schedule can be created, the schedule maker should have a work breakdown structure (WBS), an effort estimate for each task, and a resource list with availability for each resource. If these components for the schedule are not available, they can be created with a consensus-driven estimation method like Wideband Delphi. The reason for this is that a schedule itself is an estimate: each date in the schedule is estimated, and if those dates do not have the buy-in of the people who are going to do the work, the schedule will be inaccurate.[5]

In order for a project schedule to be healthy, the following criteria must be met:[6]

  • The schedule must be constantly (weekly works best) updated.
  • The EAC (Estimation at Completion) value must be equal to the baseline value.
  • The remaining effort must be appropriately distributed among team members (taking vacations into consideration).

The schedule structure may closely follow and include citations to the index of work breakdown structure or deliverables, using decomposition or templates to describe the activities needed to produce the deliverables defined in the WBS.[7]

A schedule may be assessed for the quality of the schedule development and the quality of the schedule management.[8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A Brief History of Scheduling (PDF)
  2. ^ Project Management Institute (2003). A Guide to The Project Management Body of Knowledge (3rd ed.). Project Management Institute. ISBN 1-930699-45-X. 
  3. ^ "Scheduling Guide for Program Managers". Defense Acquisition University. Defense Systems Management College Press. 2001. Retrieved 26 Feb 2014. 
  4. ^ "GAO Schedule Assessment Guide, Best Practices for Project Schedules". General Accounting Office. General Accounting Office. December 2015. Retrieved 3 Jun 2016. 
  5. ^ Stallman, Greene, Applied Software Project Management O'Reilly press, Nov 2005
  6. ^ Cutting, Thomas, Cultivating a Healthy Project Schedule, PM Hut (Last accessed 8 November 2009).
  7. ^ "Guidelines for Successful Acquisition and Management of Software-Intensive Systems, 7.2.1 Activity Definition". USAF Software Technology Support Center. Retrieved 15 Jan 2016. 
  8. ^ "Program Schedule Quality 101". 16 Oct 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2016. 
  9. ^ "DCMA-EA PAM 200.1 Program Analysis Pamphlet" (PDF). Oct 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

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