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Five Key Activities to Create an IT Project Schedule

The Project Schedule is one of the critical tools that a Project Manager needs to plan what actions will be done and when. This document helps the team to understand the sequence of activities and see what activities are dependent on each other.

In order to successfully put together a project schedule, the project manager will need the help of the project team. The project manager cannot do this alone.

In this article, we'll explore the 5 Key Activities to Create an IT Project Schedule.

Identify Workstream Leads

Who will become the main focal point for tasks being done for a specific function or group? For example, will the Development Manager be the workstream lead for the 3 software developers that will be working on this project? Also, what will be the main responsibilities of this workstream lead? Maybe the Development Manager is the one who reports status progress on behalf of the development team. They are also the main focal point if there are escalations that are raised by the development team.

The workstream lead assigned should be the SME for that particular function and be able to collect task information that needs to be executed for this project.

In putting together a project schedule, it is much better for the project manager to deal with workstream leads. This is because it is better than having 50 people on the conference call providing each one of their workloads. The workstream leads should work internally with their team to attain estimations.

Sequence Activities

Within each workstream, the activities must be sequenced as to which tasks have dependencies on each other. Also, it will be noted which tasks can be done in parallel. The workstream lead should have an idea as to how their tasks should be arranged and ready to provide the project manager with this information.

Develop the Work Breakdown Structure

Now that all the workstream leads have defined their tasks, the project manager must bring this all together in the form of a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). The WBS is a tool that breaks work into smaller tasks in a hierarchical fashion. Here, the relationships between tasks can be clearly illustrated.

The project manager will lead sessions to put together the WBS based on the feedback from the track leads. Each individual track lead gathered their tasks on their own for their specific job function. Now the project manager takes all these individual track workloads and puts them on the WBS. With all work now on the WBS, it can now be determined which tasks have dependencies across functions and which tasks can be run in parallel.

Confirm Resources

A project schedule is not possible if there are no resources that can be assigned to the project. This goes for both external labor and internal labor. This step is important because it must be confirmed if enough resources can be allocated to the project for the project schedule to make sense. For example, if the executive stakeholders are expecting the project to finish in 6 months, the resource hourly allocations must be enough for this timeframe to make sense.

The project manager will work with resource managers or functional managers to determine how many hours a resource can dedicate to the project on a monthly basis. Depending on the resource availability, this may affect task estimations. For example, if a software developer is responsible for a series of tasks that will take 25 hours, the amount of time to get this done will be different if they are allocated to this project at 25% of their working time rather than 100% of their working time.

Create and Approve the Project Schedule

Finally, with all the required inputs, the project manager can now put together the project schedule. However, the project manager is not done once this task is completed. Afterward, the project manager will meet with the project team to ensure all the task dependencies or risks are identified. Also, it can be confirmed with the project team what tasks can be done in parallel.

After this exercise, the project manager will formally communicate this project schedule with the project stakeholders and receive approval to finalize the schedule.

During this process, it's important that the project manager works with the project team as well as the project stakeholders to finalize a project schedule. Once this process is complete, the project manager can track tasks to completion and report status to senior management.

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