Control Schedule Process – using The PMBOK® Guide
To control schedule process helps your project:
- capture the current schedule status
- determine the variance from the schedule baseline
- understand the nature of the variance and its causes
- respond by taking appropriate action.
If changes are required to the schedule then they must go through the change control process, the change should be re-evaluated and planned then used to update the schedule baseline.
Root causes that may give rise to variances include resources, scope creep and productivity. All of these need to be managed by the control schedule process.
The control schedule process is part of the monitoring and controlling process group, and the key principle here is that changes should not just by reacted to, but that the schedule should be controlled proactively by the project manager by influencing changes before they affect the project.
The control schedule process is keeping managing stakeholder expectations by advising when work should be performed, the type of work, which team members will be carrying it out, and how long the work should take.
The control schedule advises stakeholders when project deliverables can be reviewed and when the authorized product will be complete. The control schedule process is carried out throughout the project after the schedule has been developed and continues until all schedule activities have been completed.
There are four inputs to the control schedule process:
Project management plan.
There are two essential components of the project management plan that relates to the control schedule process:
Schedule baseline. This contains the latest approved version of the project schedule and is used to compare your planned progress with your actual progress.
Schedule management plan. This is a ‘How to’ document defining how the control schedule will be managed and changed. The control schedule process, is used to process and manage such changes.
The schedule management plan articulates be acceptable variances for schedule performance, and will define the circumstances when schedule reserves may be used, variances to tasks both on and off the critical path, and any particular processes or procedures that should be used to update the plan.
This is an obvious and major input to the control schedule process as it contains the day-to-day schedule which is being used to track and monitor project work, hence providing resource against which such results are managed and controlled.
Work performance information.
As the name suggests this gives information on how the work is being performed, which tasks have been started, which have finished, and progress on tasks currently being worked on.
The work performance information provides valuable data against which schedule comparisons can be made and also to help spot trends and react appropriately.
Organizational process assets.
The main goal here is to use any assets that helps the control schedule process to be effective and may include aspects such as templates, policies and procedures that aid managing the project schedule.
There are five outputs from the control schedule process:
Work performance measurements.
Such measurements are normally the earned value data that show both schedule variance and schedule performance.
To this end, the updated schedule performance index (SPI) enter the schedule variance (SV) are the major outputs although other schedule related calculations may also be included. The use of earned value is an import part of the control schedule process.
Organizational process assets updates.
This will include any lessons learned while using the control schedule process and will be based on causes of schedule variances
These refer to preventative and corrective actions, either to realign schedule performance with the baseline, or for change requests to the schedule itself within the control schedule process.
Project management plan updates.
Because of the interactive nature of the component parts of this plan, any changes to the schedule while you are using control schedule, will likely impact the project scope and budget and hence will be no need to be used to update the project management plan.
Such updates would be to the schedule baseline, the schedule management plan, and the cost baseline, and are key outputs from the control schedule process.
Project document updates.
This includes any other documents (other than the project management plan) that relate to the project schedule.
There are eight tools and techniques used within control schedule (and the reader is assumed to have knowledge of aspects such as critical path analysis):
Put simply, this is to determine and understand the difference between what was scheduled and what was executed, then use that day to determine if any corrective action is needed, and hence control schedule
Variance analysis must determine the root cause of such variance as an aid to determine whether corrective or preventative actions are needed or are possible.
Examples of root causes may include scope creep, inaccurate estimating, work efficiency and resource availability. The information gleaned from variance analysis may be used and presented at performance reviews.
Control schedule using Project management software.
This is normally used as a productivity aid as it simplifies the analysis as described above, as these days, most projects use some form of project management software.
The project schedule contains the plan start and finish dates for each task, and these are compared to the actual start and finish dates to determine what the variance is (if any). Often, earned value information is presented at such reviews as evidence of how the project is progressing against the schedule.
As the project progresses, and as a result of actual performance, is quite normal for the project manager to reallocate resources or add them to existing or new tasks. The root cause of this may be the result of requests for change to the schedule and hence control schedule.
The above will normally cause the resources to be leveled in order to control schedule.
Many of the scheduling techniques may need to be used here as part of resource leveling including schedule compression, crashing, or fast-tracking.
What if scenario analysis.
This technique thinks through different scenarios that could affect the project and determining what might happen to the schedule based on such scenarios. This technique is normally used in parallel with resource leveling (particularly when using some form of project management software) to determine the effect of moving or adding resources.
As mentioned above this will include techniques such as crashing and fast-tracking. The objective here is to determine an approach either to reduce the plans duration or to accommodate resource limitations for example.
This may be exactly the same tool that was mentioned under the heading of project management software, and is used to identify options in order to determine the preferred schedule and hence perform control schedule.
For more information on passing your PMP® Exam go to my PMP Masterclass!
“PMI” and “PMP” are registered marks of Project Management Institute, Inc. – Hope you enjoyed learning about the control schedule process!