The role of project controls scheduler can often be overlooked. Ask any project planner or scheduler and they will tell you that scheduling is often undervalued in keeping a project running on time and budget. The project controls scheduler is central to setting out the timelines to complete the tasks as outlined in the project plan. They are a vital resource to control the project and prevent schedule blowout.
The project controls scheduler keeps the project running on track by detailing when to achieve each task, the timelines, and the order things should be completed in. It also highlights what has already been completed. It should be reviewed at the very least once a week, depending on your project.
However, a project control schedule is not an accurate science. It is pretty much an estimation. So, it is fluid and adaptable according to a project’s changing needs. Constant schedule reviews give you early warning about problems and risks so you can implement changes. It also allows you to refine the schedule as work progresses during the project. Schedules transform the project from a static plan to a controlled time-based, predictive plan.
In today’s fast moving technological times, there is software available that simplifies the scheduling process, and:
provides a platform for identifying, monitoring and controlling project tasks and their inter dependencies
assists in determining resource requirements and allocation for best results
helps you to assess project delays that impact the timeline and project costs
shows you where there are excess resources for allocation to other projects
provides a platform to easily track the progress of any project
provides a ‘single source of truth’ by tracking what has actually happened against what will happen moving forward
tracks accomplishments, milestones, regulatory compliance and needs
allows management and the team to see the project’s progress and how they influence outcomes.
Creating a project schedule
For a project schedule to have value it must be detailed and dynamic enough for you to be able to re-forecast requirements when you identify potential problems or risks are realized. A good project controls scheduler will tell you what you need to know, not what you want to hear. To get good information out of a schedule then it needs detailed information input into the system, such as:
Risks to the project. After conducting a project risk analysis input the results into the schedule. It is important to identify potential risks to plan in any extra time or resource requirements.
Project scope description. The project description outlines start and end dates for activities. It will include any assumptions built into the project plan, and list major limitations and restraints. Create milestones from stakeholder requirements.
Resource demands and project tasks. The project controls scheduler should consider what constraints you have when creating a schedule. Factor in staff capabilities and experience, resource and staff availability, and staff holidays. Everything can affect meeting the schedule.
Review the schedule
Once you have a basic schedule, it needs reviewing to ensure the resources and activity timelines line up. A few ways to this is by:
Balancing resources. There will always be a need to balance resources as there will be times they are unavailable or only in limited supply. This needs to be balanced to meet the resource requirements of critical project activities.
What if scenarios. What if scenarios compare different scenarios and measure the different effects for project delivery. Change production rates, staffing, shift arrangements and quantities to see how they instantly affect the schedule. You can use this to measure the results and plan to mitigate future risks.
Now the initial schedule review is complete, get team input. After all they are the ones doing the job. Their insights and predictions are relevant and, usually, accurate.
There are a range of scheduling tools on the market that can help the project controls scheduler to turn your information into an interactive, useful plan to complete your projects on time and on budget every single time.