Project scheduling is the process of identifying the various tasks in a project and organizing it in a sequential order in order to ensure timely completion of the particular project. Thus scheduling should be done with an aim to achieve the objective of the project. Since the scheduling helps to arrange the task in a sequential order, it is also an interlinking process. Through Project scheduling a project manager can identify the risk points, inter linking of events and thus ensure resource planning as per the objective.
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Project scheduling is done by business area manager, project manager, functional managers etc. Business area manager is the person who declares the project activities. As per the project objective, the project manager organizes the team, prepare the schedule. Later functional managers will review the project schedule and agrees to do the activities as per the schedule. (Introduction to project scheduling, 2009).
Here the company is going to conduct a tradeshow and want to which tool is best for project scheduling. There are several tools like Microsoft Excel, MS-Project, Primavera and newly emerged open source project scheduling software are available. Tradeshow is a duration driven scheduling in which the task are done as per the dates or duration of the task and thus not much affected the quantity of the work done in each task. Whatever the resources we are using and whichever may be the quantity of effort, there will be no change in the duration of the project or task. For the tradeshow MS-project is much common and thus it have described elaborately. (6 factors that affect how project calculates time, 2009).
Project Scheduling tools
Microsoft excel was the first consideration of every project manager for the project scheduling in the earlier days. In excel, the bar chart was taken to interpret the result. And the industry doesn’t have that much developed to use high tech software and the industries found difficulties to train the people. Microsoft Excel spreadsheet is common in the project scheduling and resource management and it is mainly used by the small organization for the small type of projects. Limitations: Since it is designed for general application, it cannot do the activities of typical project management software. Especially in the case of graphical displays and database access. For e.g., Excel, doesn’t have a built in Gantt chart. Thus we have to make it through the bar chart. Due to the changes takes place in the industrial world, there is need to find out more information about the project such as the progress of the project, specific details about particular task etc. And for the purpose excel was not sufficient. (Gheorghiu, 2007).
Microsoft project is the industry benchmark in the project scheduling software. Even though it is not exclusive project management software, it is highly sophisticated in order to handle big projects. It is mainly useful in the time scheduling.
Project Scheduling through Microsoft project
Project scheduling can be done by entering the overall project, the individual activity(task), and the resources available. “Project calculates the duration of tasks based on the definitions of the duration units on the Calendar tab of the Options dialog box (Tools menu). Just like a normal monthly calendar, the year begins in January and each week begins on Sunday or Monday. By default, when Project calculates duration units, one day equals 8 hours, one week equals 40 hours, and one month equals 20 working days. If you enter start and finish dates for tasks and don’t enter start and finish times, Project uses 8:00 A.M. as the default start time and 5:00 P.M. as the default end time.” (Hoe scheduling works in project, 2009).
Task in the project schedule
If we are entering starting date for a project the software, it will calculate the finish time on the basis of last task. When we are adding more information, like task duration, task dependency, constraints etc. the finish date will change as per it.
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If we are not sure that when the project should start, we will schedule the work as per the finish date; ie we are scheduling the task to complete within the last date. MS project have the convenience to do the project scheduling as per it.
Affect of Constraints in the project schedule
Using the constraints, the project schedule can be adjusted and control as per our need and requirements. There are flexible constraints, Moderate flexible constraints, and Inflexible constraints. Flexible constraints such as, ‘As soon As possible’ constraints (ASAP) and, As Late As Possible (ALAP) constraints. Flexible constraints works when a task will occur as soon as or as late as per the task dependency. Moderate flexible constraints such as ‘Start No Earlier Than’ constraint will help to restrict a task to start or finish before or after a chosen date. Inflexible constraints helps in the following conditions; If a task is scheduled to start from June 25 after its predecessor task is completed, and if we are applying an inflexible constraints such as Must Start On (MSO) constraint for June 25, then the particular task will start in June 25 itself even if its former activity finish it or not.
Resources in project schedule
While entering resource, we can assign the task to each resource and they will be responsible for completing the task. It will help to assess the requirements in each department. For example, we can calculate the number of machine needed, or the quantity of material needed. Thus we can ensure the project staffing and efficient use of resources.
Deadline: Generally deadline doesn’t affect the schedule to an extent. It only indicating a target date which have some specific importance. When task finishes after the deadline, it indicate that project missed the deadline. (How scheduling works in project, 2009).
But due to its high license rate ($599) many small level organizations cannot afford it. And this help to boost the popularity of open source project software(eg, Gantt project and Open Workbench). Primavera is software which is more helpful in resource allocation and risk management. (Maker, 2009).
Tips to the trade show
- Establishing starting and finishing dates.
- Use the correct scheduling techniques as per the need of the project and the most common method
- Monitoring in order to avoid any errors
- Learning from the past experience
- Prepare the program as per the needs of the target audience.
- Keep all the required document (Maakestad, & Sheffrey, 2008).
Since MS-project is designed to cater the needs of the project scheduling, it will be easier tool for conducting project management for the tradeshow. Ms-project have competed enough to handle those kind of project efficiently and effectively.
Gheorghiu, Florin. (2007). Regional report Romania: Project scheduling tools and their public perceptions. PMWorldToday. Web.
How scheduling works in project: What are the default setting for calculating the schedule. (2009). Microsoft Office Online. Web.
How scheduling works in project. (2009). Microsoft Office Online. Web.
Introduction to project scheduling. (2009). Visitask. Web.
Maker, Andy. (2009). What’s your schedule like. Project Management Tips. Web.
Maakestad, Heidi., & Sheffrey, Tom. (2008). Best practices for project scheduling. Aaceinternational Alaska Section. Web.
6 factors that affect how project calculates time. (2009). Microsoft Office Online. Web.