6th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Process 6.1 Plan Schedule Management: Tools and Techniques


The Plan Schedule Management process has as its aim to create the Schedule Management Plan, the portion of the overall project management plan that covers processes that have to do with creating, managing and then controlling the schedule for the project.   Essentially, then, the Schedule Management plan developed in this Process 6.1 Plan Schedule Management gives guidelines on how to do all of the OTHER schedule management processes, all the way from 6.2 Define Activities through 6.6 Control Schedule.

The inputs were listed in the last post; this post will cover the tools and techniques needed to create the Scope Management Plan.   These basically cover who you will need to consult in order to create the plan (Expert Judgment), how you will analyze the data from the inputs to create the plan (Data Analysis), and then where the schedule management plan will be developed (Meetings).

6.1.2  Plan Schedule Management:  Tools and Techniques

6.1.2.1 Expert Judgment

Expertise should be considered from individuals who have expertise in the area of schedule development for your specific industry, including using scheduling software (like Microsoft Project or Primavera), or who had experience creating a schedule for a previous, similar project.

6.1.2.2  Data Analysis

The main data analysis technique used in creating a schedule management plan (not creating the schedule itself, mind you, but creating the plan) is alternatives analysis.   The alternatives that may be determined, if they are not already set out in the schedule development, management and control-related policies for your organization (these would be included as part of the Organizational Process Assets, one of the inputs to this process), would include the following:

  • does the entire schedule need to be done up front first?   If it needs to be done in detail, then this follows a predictive, aka traditional or waterfall methodology.
  • if the schedule needs to be done up front, but it can developed in stages or increments, then this follows an iterative or incremental model.
  • if the entire schedule does not need to be done in detail, so that the work to be accomplished in the near term is planned in detail, but the work to be done in the future is planned at a higher level of detail, then this is following a rolling wave methodology.    The analogy I use to describe this is that it is like laying down the train tracks for the farther portion of the railroad while the train has already started down the tracks.
  • an agile or adaptive methodology is one where the project is completed in a series of stages called releases, which release features to the customer on an incremental basis.

Also important to consider it the level of detail in the planning.   In a predictive model, especially with a project that is similar to ones done before, it may make sense to plan the schedule in a high level of detail at the beginning of the project, because this will save time in the execution phase of the project because any variances from the plan will be easier to detect.

On the other hand, if it a new project totally unlike one the organization has done before, it may make sense to follow a more iterative or incremental model, including doing something rolling wave planning.    As you get closer to the work that needs to be done, you will gain more knowledge to put the schedule in more detail.    If you put the project into too much detail at the beginning, when there are still a lot of unknown factors, you may end up having to spend time revising the schedule in the monitoring and controlling process.   So you need to adjust the schedule methodology to not only the organization doing the project, but also the type of project (it is totally new or one similar to a project done in the past).

6.1.2.3  Meetings

Meetings are where the planning is done to develop the Schedule Management Plan.  Those that may be included are:

  • the project sponsor
  • the project manager
  • selected project team members, especially those with responsibility for scheduling planning or execution,
  • selected stakeholders, especially those with information on the basic constraints on the schedule (i.e., those that can suggest milestone dates)
  • others as needed, particularly those project managers/project team members from previous projects that are similar to the project being planning

These three tools/techniques of expert judgment, data analysis, and meetings are used in other planning processes for other knowledge areas as well.

The output of any “Plan X Management” planning process, where “X” stands for the name of the particular knowledge area, is going to be the “X Management Plan.”   So, naturally, the output of Plan Schedule Management will be the Schedule Management Plan.   The details of what is in the Schedule Management Plan are to be covered in the next post.

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