What is a Schedule Management Plan?

What is a Schedule Management Plan?

The Schedule Management Plan is a key element of a project’s overall Project Management Plan. It provides guidance to the project manager and project team on how the project schedule will be developed, maintained, and controlled. With a Schedule Management Plan, the project manager can use pre-determined mitigation steps to address deviations from the plan to keep the project on track.

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Introduction to Schedule Management Plan

Referred to by some as the “Schedule Management Plan PMP,” in reference to Project Management Institute (PMI) Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification, this document serves a critical role in the overall management of a project. All projects have a schedule, and all projects will incur some level of change. For the changes that impact the project schedule specifically, the Schedule Management Plan (or Schedule Management Plan PMP) provides the project manager with the needed information to take corrective steps to get the project back on schedule.

A Schedule Management Plan describes how the schedule will be managed throughout the project lifecycle. The plan will address issues such as:

  • who is responsible for maintaining the schedule
  • how often the schedule will be updated
  • what methods will be used to track progress
  • how changes to the schedule will be controlled

With an approved Schedule Management Plan, the project management team can make informed choices and guide the project to a positive result.

It also has a timeline for the project including the duration of the individual tasks and critical milestones. Project Managers use schedule management to monitor progress against the baseline schedule, determine how schedule changes are controlled, and report on progress against planned milestones. The Schedule Management Plan provides guidelines for all things related to scheduling.

What are the Components of a Schedule Management Plan?

Project managers want to deliver quality deliverables within budget and on time. So, completing deliverables days, months, or years after the planned deadline is not a successful result. With a strong Schedule Management Plan created to meet the needs of a specific project, Project Managers are better positioned to address threats to the schedule to ensure desired outcomes, including when the project will be completed.

PMI does not provide a universal Schedule Management Plan template, but for example, most will address:

  • who is responsible for maintaining the schedule
  • how often will the schedule be updated
  • what methods will be used to track progress
  • how will changes to the schedule be controlled
  • what is the process for approving schedule changes
  • how will schedule risks be managed
  • what are the project’s milestones and deadlines

Schedule Management Plan components vary depending on the project’s specific needs. Many companies have a Schedule Management Plan template that aligns with their industry and internal project management standards. Project managers should include project team members, stakeholders, and subject matter experts in the development of the Schedule Management Plan to increase the accuracy of techniques used to create task duration estimates and to confirm responsibilities for the schedule itself.


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How to Create a Schedule Management Plan

Creating a schedule management plan goes beyond planning for how to sequence activities and associated milestones into a schedule. The schedule management plan establishes the management of the schedule throughout the life of the project. The plan should incorporate stakeholder and project team member input to ensure that reporting, monitoring, and controlling processes are established and approved before the project work begins.

To create a Schedule Management Plan, Project Managers should leverage PMI’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition for information, in combination with standards in place at their company. An example schedule management plan creation process would include:

  1. Determine a scheduling methodology (driven by the project methodology in use)
  2. Select a scheduling software (in coordination with the IT department and/or Project Management Office)
  3. Identify who is part of the scheduling management and scheduling process
  4. Determine performance monitoring processes
  5. Develop mitigation plans to address schedule variances
  6. Confirm schedule change control procedures
  7. Define the schedule report frequency, format, and recipients

The Schedule Management Plan should be reviewed and updated as needed throughout the project lifecycle. It should be formally approved by the project sponsor or other relevant decision-makers before work on the project begins as part of the overall Project Management Planning process.

Tips for Creating a Schedule Management Plan

To create a Schedule Management Plan, it is important to tailor the plan to the specific needs of your project. A highly complex project with many interdependent tasks and deliverables will have a more robust Schedule Management Plan than a project with a few tasks leading to a single deliverable. For any project, use these tips to create an effective and appropriately robust Schedule Management Plan:

  • confirm the approach to identifying specific scheduling needs of the project in terms of due dates, deliverables, and budget,
  • understand the complexity of the project in terms of resources, stakeholders, and interdependencies,
  • identify a means to monitor all tasks and interdependencies
  • determine scheduling resources needed and available for the project’s duration

As part of Project Schedule Management Plan development, Project Managers should always confirm and document who:

  • has input into project schedule creation and subsequent updates
  • reviews and approves the initial schedule and subsequent updates
  • requires scheduling reports at what intervals
  • reviews and approves the Schedule Management Plan and subsequent updates

It is important to know not only who could impact the schedule but also who needs to be part of the Schedule Management planning work and communications. A PMI Learning Library conference paper titled, Design and development of a schedule management plan shares: “The PMBOK® Guide notes the use of the RACI Chart, correlating tasks with role and individuals by identifying four links; Responsible, Accountable, Consult, and Inform.” No matter how detailed or thorough a project schedule may be, without the Schedule Management Plan, when project changes have a scheduling impact, the project manager will be at a disadvantage.

Benefits of Having a Schedule Management Plan

When the Schedule Management Plan is customized to the project needs and aligned to the project management methodology, there is increased potential for reaching project goals on time and within budget. Benefits of a well-designed Schedule Management Plan include:

  • effective management of time-related costs
  • accurate schedule projections and estimates
  • effective management of time-related resources

To realize all benefits, the Schedule Management Plan should be developed within the project planning process and be aligned with other plans within the overall Project Management Plan.

Summary

Project managers use schedule management to determine the management guidelines for scheduling responsibilities, resources, and accountability. The Schedule Management Plan feeds into the Project Management Plan. The PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition notes the planning process should include, “a schedule management plan that selects a scheduling methodology, a scheduling tool, and sets the format and establishes criteria for developing and controlling the project schedule.” Like other plans within the overall Project Management Plan, the Schedule Management Plan is tailored to the specific needs of the project. It is a document that guides how to manage scheduling processes and procedures to better ensure positive outcomes.

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Dec 5,6,7,8 8:30am-6:00pm
Burlington, MA
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Jan 30,31,Feb 1,2 8:30am-6:00pm
Burlington, MA
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Dec 12-15 & 19-22 12:00pm-4:30pm
Online - Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)


Author profile
Megan Bell
Megan Bell
Project Manager & Writer at Project Management Academy
Megan Bell