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The Purpose of the Project Schedule

The project schedule is one of the most important tools in creating a successful project (usually after building a good team). However, the true value of the schedule is only achieved if several other tools are implemented and integrated. To develop a schedule, the team must establish a Work Breakdown Strcuture (WBS) and an Execution Plan for the work. This is usually an iterative process: the development of each element influences the others. Stated simply, the schedule places detailed activities from the WBS dictionary into their proper sequence, with appropriate relationships defined, consistent with the execution plan.

The schedule is an integral part of the project management system required on move projects. It is integrated with budget, resources, WBS, scope, and quality requirements to produce a virtual model of the project execution plan to guide the work and reflect progress and performance through the life of the project. Initial development of the execution plan, WBS, and detailed activities of the WBS dictionary usually precede initial development of the project schedule and budget. However, the integrated nature of these components makes the development of each piece an iterative and interdependent process, except on very simple projects.

The schedule serves as a management reporting tool as well as an implementation tool to help get the work done on time. The schedule contains activity durations, interdependencies, and constraints that help to identify conflicts and bottlenecks. When completed, the schedule produces a realistic and achievable timetable for executing the work, given the real-world constraints and limitations. T

he schedule is also one of the most important tools in managing changes on the project. Because the activities in the schedule are tied together with logical relationships, the schedule allows the project team to accurately evaluate changes from the plan and identify the resulting impacts to time and resources throughout the entire project lifecycle. The schedule also provides the project team with a tool to evaluate alternative execution strategies to meet business objectives (e.g., reduce duration or costs) by adjusting resources and logic.

The schedule can also be a cost control tool for the project team. On nearly all projects, time is money. The schedule allows the project team to optimize resources to produce cost savings and is essential for determining productivity factors using earned value, allowing the project team to make better cost forecasts early in the project.

A resource loaded schedule also allows for accurate forecasting of cash flow requirements on complex projects.

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