Right off the bat let me tell you that this is NOT about creating project management plan. You can learn how to create a project management plan, here.
This is about planning to create and manage project schedule.
Many of us get a bit confused between the two. Project schedule is in fact part of project plan.
Planning schedule management is a process introduced in PMBOK 5th edition. The focus of this is to sensitize project managers to the right way of approaching schedule creation.
This project management activity is about outlining processes, procedures and policies to come up with a project schedule and manage changes to it.
Schedule management plan is a subsidiary plan and an integral part of the project management plan.
Please make sure you get the difference clearly before proceeding. This will save you lot of confusion at a later point in time.
What’s needed for me to plan for creating project schedule?
Project management plan, in particular, the scope baseline is used as the first input for this process.
Project charter contains useful information such as high-level description of the project, expected milestones, restrictions and assumptions that are to be considered while coming up with schedule.
Then the big two helpful resources for the project manager, first of which is enterprise environmental factors, such as availability of human resources in the organization, scheduling tools recommended by the project management office, commercial information from internal knowledge database and work authorization system from the organization.
Second one is the organizational process assets, such as lessons learned from other projects, existing policies and procedures, change control procedures and risk control procedures.
Now, how is this done?
Expert judgment – by far the important tool in (m)any process is about applying knowledge and experience to unearth pitfalls of schedule creation and management activities. Such knowledge is useful in choosing the right tools and techniques for various time management processes – ones that work well in the current organizational environment.
Analytical techniques – schedule management plan will suggest using suitable scheduling tools and techniques, estimation formats, and project management software such as Microsoft Project or any other open source software. It also suggests ways and means of schedule compression such as fast tracking (working on multiple tasks in parallel) or crashing (adding more resources to critical activities).
Meetings – project manager, few members from project team, other stakeholders and people from project management office (PMO) meet regularly to discuss project schedule management approaches, tools and processes.
Of course, the outcome should be..
The Schedule management plan – this is the only output of this project management activity as you may expect. This plan will be a guideline for project manager to carry out all schedule related activities throughout the project. This may be a formal or informal plan and project manage team decides the level of detailing necessary for this plan based on size and complexity of the project.
The mind map below shows the components of schedule management plan. Click on the image to view in new window.