5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Chapter 6: Process 6.7 Control Schedule

In controlling a project, you must be able to control the constraints of that project, and the time constraint, i.e., the schedule, is an example of that. In the process 6.7 Control Schedule, you have the only process under Schedule Management in the Monitoring & Controlling process group, the rest (6.1 through 6.6) being in the Planning process group.

The purpose of this post is to do a quick overview of the inputs, tools & techniques, and outputs of this process.

1. Inputs

The inputs come from the schedule model (the output of process 6.6 Develop Schedule), but also from the work performance data which are an output of the Integration Management process 4.3 Direct and Manage Project Work.

2. Tools & Techniques

The technique of “performance reviews” actually encompasses some techniques which were also used to create the schedule model, such as the critical path method, the critical chain method. Most crucial for the monitoring and controlling process, however, is earned value management, which tells you how well your project is progressing as compared to the schedule and cost baselines.

Many of the other techniques (resource optimization, schedule compression, etc.) that were used in the creation of the schedule model in the planning process group, can also be used in the monitoring and controlling process group to control the schedule.

3. Outputs

The most crucial outputs are the work performance information in the form of schedule variance (SV) and schedule performance index (SPI). These can be used to forecast future performance of the project based on the performance to date. If this information indicates that there is a significant variance of the performance of the project as compared to the performance baseline, then this may suggest changes to either the project itself in the form of corrective action or preventive action, or changes to the schedule baseline itself if it is determined that the original baseline was unrealistic.

Any of these change requests are then fed as inputs into the change control process, which as you may recall takes place under Integration Management. If there is an eventual change to the schedule baseline, then that will generate a new project schedule. If schedule compression techniques are used, this may create changes in other management areas: cost (in the case of crashing) and risk (in the case of fast-tracking).

Finally, if the reason for the variances is uncovered, this is noted in the lessons learned so that further scrutiny can be given to this throughout the rest of the project.

1. Project Management Plan The two specific elements of this overall plan that are used as inputs are

  • Schedule Management Plan—describes how the schedule will be managed and controlled. It is an output of process 6.1 Plan Schedule Management.
  • Schedule Baseline—used as a reference to compare with the actual results to determine if corrective action, preventive action, or even a change to the baseline itself required. It is an output of process 6.6 Develop Schedule.
2. Project Schedule The project schedule refers to the output of the schedule model. The most recent version of that schedule is used as an input to indicate activities started, activities completed, and any updates to activity start or end dates as of the indicated date. It is an output of process 6.6 Develop Schedule.
3. Work Performance Data Information about project progress such as which activities have been started and the extent of their progress, and which activities have been completed. It is an output of process 4.3 Direct and Manage Project Work from Integration Management.
4. Project Calendars The schedule model may require some activities to be scheduled in different work periods, which may be contained in different project calendars. These are an output of process 6.6 Develop Schedule.
5. Schedule data The schedule model consists of the schedule data (the input) and the project schedule (the output). The schedule data, an output of process 6.6 Develop Schedule, is reviewed and possibly updated as part of the upcoming process.
6. OPAs
  • Policies, procedures, and guidelines for scheduling.
  • Schedule control tools
  • Monitoring and reporting methods
1. Performance reviews Measures, analyzes and compares schedule performance based on data such as actual start and finish dates, percent complete, and remaining duration of work. Techniques used may include:

  • Trend analysis
  • Critical path method
  • Critical chain method
  • Earned value measurement
2. Project Management Software This is a tool (Microsoft Project, Primavera, etc.) which can:

  • Track planned vs. actual dates
  • Report variances from the schedule baseline
  • Forecast the effect of changes on the schedule model
3. Resource optimization techniques Used to adjust schedule due to demand (project time) and supply of resources (resource availability).

  • Resource leveling
  • Resource smoothing
4. Modeling techniques Used to review various scenarios used in risk monitoring to bring schedule model in alignment with project management plan and schedule baseline.

  • What-if scenario analysis: used to assess feasibility of the project schedule under adverse conditions
  • Simulation: calculates multiple project durations based on different sets of assumptions (Monte Carlo analysis)
5. Leads and lags Used to bring project activities that are behind into alignment with the plan.
6. Schedule compression Used to bring project activities that are behind into alignment with the plan.

  • Crashing: adds resources
  • Fast-tracking: activities normally done in sequence are now performed in parallel for part of their duration
8. Scheduling tool Automated scheduling tools contain the schedule model by allowing one to input the scheduling data and to monitor the schedule via the output (the project schedule).
1. Work Performance Information The schedule variance (SV) or schedule performance index (SPI) calculated for the work packages and control accounts of the WBS.
2. Schedule Forecasts Estimates of the future conditions of the project based on the work performance information provided.
3. Change Requests Performance reviews, including schedule variance analysis, may result in change requests to the schedule baseline. These are then input to the Perform Integrated Change Control process 4.5 in Integration Management.
4. Project Management Plan Updates
  • Schedule baseline
  • Schedule management plan
  • Cost baseline: schedule compression technique of crashing may require additional resources
6. Project Documents Updates
  • Schedule data: if a new schedule is generated, more realistic schedule data may result
  • Project schedule: updated schedule data will result in a schedule model which generates an updated project schedule
  • Risk register: schedule compression technique of fast-tracking may generate new risks
7. OPAs
  • Causes of variances
  • Corrective action (if chosen)
  • Lessons learned from schedule control

The next series of posts will cover the tools and techniques of this process, starting with the first technique of performance reviews. As you can see from the chart, this encompasses four separate techniques, all of which will be discussed in the next post.

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