A project schedule is a listing of project’s milestones, activities with intended start and finish dates. It is normally in Gantt Chart format. If the number of activities in the project is small, it can be created with MS Excel. However, if the number of activities is large and need to be properly linked up to perform Critical Path Analysis, then the project schedule will need a proper project scheduling tool such as Oracle Primavera P6 or MS Project to create. The duration it takes to develop the schedule depends on many factors:
Size and Complexity of the project
The greater the size and complexity of the project, one will expect more time is needed to understand the project scope and develop the project schedule.
Granularity of the schedule
The greater the schedule’s granularity, the greater the effort required to develop the schedule. Schedule granularity is classified from level 1 to 5. Level 1 being the least detail and Level 5 being the most detail. Level 1 schedule comprises mainly of key dates and milestones and it is usually meant for giving the audience an overall view of the project timeline. Level 5 schedule being the most detailed, it is developed by the contractor to track the day to day progress of site work. To ascertain the Critical Path (the longest path) of the project, there should be sufficient details in the schedule and a level 3 schedule is warranted.
Some projects schedules are required to comply with the client’s programme/schedule specification. Such specification may specify the granularity of the activities such as the minimum and maximum duration of each activity. Some specifications will also specify that the activities of the project schedules be cost or/and resource loaded.
Project Schedule needs the buy-in from the project team and it has to be reviewed by the team. Hence the duration required for schedule development also depends on the outcome of the review and the subsequent amendments.
Experience of the project planner/scheduler
Last but not least, the experience of the planner/scheduler is very important. An experienced planner is not only adept in using the programme planning software to develop the programme, but he also has a good understanding of project planning and scheduling methodology, the full project life cycle and the domain knowledge of the construction industry.
A good planner/scheduler should have sufficient site and project experience so that he can appreciate the project scope and constraints; understand the project risks, the processes in procurement and design, authorities permitting processes, the construction sequences, interfacing work between trades, M&E works and T&C work.
Unfortunately, there are not many planner/scheduler out there who have sufficient site experience to understand the full project lifecycle development. As such, a lot of hand-holding is required and the project planner/scheduler is doing no more than a programmer’s job!
About the Author:
Stanley Tey has more than two decades of project management experience after graduating from the National University of Singapore in Civil Engineering. He also obtained a Master Degree in Software Engineering from Institute of Systems Science, NUS where he specialized in Project Management and Systems Integration. He has worked as a Consulting Engineer, Project Planner, and Project Manager. Some of the projects he had handled are:
- North East Line
- Singapore 1st Desalination Water Plant at Tuas
- Integrated Resort Project at Sentosa
- Lonza Cell Therapy Plant at Tuas (Phase 2)
- Merck Junumet plant at Tuas
- Singapore Special Cable Tunnel Project