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“A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It’s a net for catching days. It’s a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.” -Annie Dillard

A new project, on a large or small scale, marks the beginning of a roller-coaster ride. There’s just so much to consider, from managing expenses to identifying dependencies, meeting deadlines, and adapting to new tools. Without a plan, it would be like walking in the dark leading to anyone losing track of their end goal while working under pressure.

To get everything done smoothly and avoid delays, you need a planned approach.

And nothing could be better than a project schedule to get you started.

A project schedule lays everything out in front of your eyes to analyze, making the allocation of tasks and resources easier and more efficient.

To understand more about project scheduling in project management and its role in the success or failure of a project, let’s dive deeper into the subject.

What Is a Project Schedule?

A project schedule helps track the progress of a project in real time. It gives you access to any changes or modifications that might take place during the project.

A project schedule is a device that is used to schedule, measure, and disseminate task timelines and milestones within a project. The schedule details all requirements of a project like resources, which a project manager may use so that projects can be concluded on time and within the estimated budget.

Project schedules can be of three types:

  • Master project schedule
  • Summary schedule
  • Detailed project schedule

To get a clearer understanding of a project schedule, take a look at the template image below to get a rough idea of what it looks like.

Image showing interface of a software with a project schedule

Just as seen in the image above, a project schedule gives you a comprehensive overview of your project. Essentially, this schedule will contain important elements like-

  • Dates when your project starts and ends
  • Tasks to be assigned to complete the project
  • Team members assigned to the project, along with their list of responsibilities for the project
  • Finances and resources linked to tasks within the project

To build a reliable project schedule it’s important to determine the following-

  • All the work that has to be performed for the project.
  • Who needs to perform the work?- employees, vendor partners, outside contractors, and/or subject matter experts, if they are available for a project
  • The resources, costs, and dependencies associated with each task
  • The timeframe required to complete the project. It’s best to get a subject matter expert to estimate how long it’ll take to complete the project.

In simple words, the more detailed your project schedule is, the lesser the management time, thus giving you and your team more hours to spend on quality work.

Why Is It Important to Create a Project Schedule?

A project schedule is important for project managers for more than one reason which are-

Budget Management

For most projects, the budget depends on the time taken to complete them. With an accurate project schedule, you can manage a project’s budget with ease using analysis and forecasting.

Resource Management

Project scheduling drives efficient resource management, especially when these resources are spread out thin across various tasks. It helps avoid over-allocation as well as under-allocation of tasks to the resources.

Performance Management

A strong and well-developed project schedule can improve a project’s overall performance. With a schedule, everything is laid out systematically making it easy for project managers to manage everything and gauge how everyone and everything is performing.

Crisis Management

Every project may have problems at various stages. The good news is that a well-developed project schedule can help project managers tackle this at every step of the way. A schedule enables project managers to take corrective measures that can put the project back on track.

Top 9 Project Scheduling Techniques

There are a number of scheduling techniques that project managers utilize. However, only some of the techniques are popular, giving project managers access to creating systematic project schedules. These techniques are explained below.

1. Task List Scheduling

This is one of the simplest and most common project scheduling techniques used by project managers. The schedule is built with the help of a spreadsheet or word processor. Project managers use the task list scheduling technique to finalize smaller or simpler jobs that don’t need extensive scheduling or analysis.

Image showing a person going through a task checklist on a tablet device

2. Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)

PERT is a visual representation of a project’s timeline and this technique is used at the start of a project. It’s used to accurately scope out a project to avoid any bottlenecks as the work moves along. The scheduling technique identifies the dependency of each task by displaying these individually so that you can take necessary measures to complete them on time.

With the aid of PERT, project managers can-

  • take necessary preventive measures to reduce possible project delays.
  • estimate the shortest amount of time required to finish a task
  • estimate the shortest timeline to complete a project
  • identify any uncertainties within the project that might create bottlenecks in the future

3. Critical Path Method (CPM)

The CPM project scheduling technique is almost similar to PERT. The only difference is that CPM is activity-oriented while PERT is event-oriented.

The CPM project scheduling method assists project managers in determining the timeline for the completion of a project. CPM is an activity-oriented technique created on the basis of a project’s activities.

Image showing a page with illustration of the critical path  method with key areas marked using blue highlighter

Elements of the Critical Path Method

  • A Work Breakdown Structure: Of all the assignments needed to complete a project. The tasks are broken down into critical and non-critical sections. This helps in determining the priorities and interdependencies of each task within the project.
  • Identification of task dependencies: To avoid bottlenecks later in the project
  • The duration required to finish each task: This can be estimated on past experience and knowledge, previous project data, and/or industry standards.

4. Gantt Chart

A Gantt chart is used to plan, schedule, and track projects and consists of 8 essential elements that help project managers track the status of tasks as work progresses. Gantt charts are helpful to project managers because they can simplify even the most complex projects.

Image showing a man standing in front of a huge display of a gantt chart to track projects

Elements of a Gantt Chart

  • Task list
  • The timeline of the project
  • Team member or person assigned to do a task
  • Progress of the tasks assigned in percentage value or as a shaded horizontal bar
  • Tasks that are interconnected and need to be completed in a certain order
  • Bars that give a clear representation of duration and progress
  • Milestones depicting major events, decisions, and deliverables
  • A dateline to highlight the current date of the Gantt chart

Project managers use Gantt charts to simplify a complex project schedule. Gantt charts illustrate any critical information like tasks assigned to team members, task timelines, and especially overlapping activities in a project.

5. Fast-tracking

Imagine you have two tasks within a project. However, only one of them is ongoing, while the other is set to start only after the previous one is complete. Fast-tracking for project schedules enables simultaneously moving the second task along with the first one.

However, it’s important to ensure that there are no dependencies between the two tasks. Briefly speaking, fast-tracking helps decrease the timeframe to complete a given project.

Project managers need fast-tracking to:

  • maximize productivity
  • finish any given project within the shortest time possible so that focus can be shifted to other priorities.
  • make up for lost time and/or other shortcomings.

6. Crashing

Crashing, like fast-tracking, aims at finishing a project earlier than its expected date. The technique works by adding more resources for the least cost possible. Most commonly, it’s done by assigning more team members to a project, thus reducing the amount of work for each person.

This, however, does not change the scope of the project. The problem with crashing though is that project costs increase and some activities have to be cut out of the project to balance that.

7. Simulation

This project scheduling technique is best used when there are unknown variables that could affect a project’s deadline. Even though project managers are unaware of all the project details, simulation gives them the flexibility to create detailed timelines.

Also, it can justify the need to remove or add resources at any time in the project if you need to alter the timeline.

8. Resource Leveling

Illustration of the resource leveling system presented via a flowchart

Resource leveling allows project managers to get the most out of resources that are already available while also considering the project’s timeline, cost, and scope constraints.

However, resource leveling can be challenging since it requires project managers to balance the same resources across multiple projects.

Screenshot of software showing resource leveling

9. Calendar Scheduling

As the name suggests, this project scheduling technique uses a calendar to mark all the important tasks and their deadlines. For this, you need to use project calendar templates that incorporate color-coding methods to help identify tasks within the project.

Woman using a calendar scheduling software on her desktop computer

With this technique, scheduling becomes easy to understand and projects are easier to access by both stakeholders and team members.

How to Create a Project Schedule

As a project manager, there might have been many instances where you had to create project schedules. However, every project has its problems. This means that every schedule will appear a bit foreign to you in the beginning.

Though this is normal, you can make onboarding a new project simpler and more comfortable by creating your strategy for project schedule development. Here are seven steps to create a schedule you can rely on, each time:

Step 1: Clarify Your Project Goals

The first step to building a project schedule is to create a WBS that will help you identify meaningful milestones as well as break down the general scope of work. This will also make it easier for you to communicate your project progress to the relevant stakeholders and arrange your timeline into an efficient structure.

Remember to jot down every important project milestone or deliverable that could affect the project directly and play a role in its success.

Step 2: Identify All the Parties Concerned

List all the people that need to communicate with the project team irrespective of their role in the project.

Step 3: Know Your Deadline

You must be sure of when the project must be completed. This will give you enough time to deal with any conflicts or changes that might come up during the project.

Step 4: List Your Tasks

Your project schedule must have a list of every task that can make a project successful. Every milestone or deliverable in the project can then be broken down into sub-tasks to make working on them simpler and ensure that all bases are covered.

Step 5: Complete Task Assignments

Each task should have an assigned team member. However, it’s important to be mindful of their other appointments so that they are not overloaded with work. Assigning team members to take care of tasks can decrease your workload and efficiently disperse sub-tasks to other members working under the team members.

Step 6: Keep Track of the Timeline for Each Task

This way you can be sure of how long each task will take to complete. This helps in tackling project delays and completing certain tasks that need to be finished before another can start.

Step 7: Always Manage Your Project Schedule With One Tool

This tool should be shared across your team. Your team should be able to see the project schedule and also work on it. A project scheduling tool that can do both will prove crucial to your success.

What Are the Benefits of Project Scheduling?

Project scheduling cannot be underestimated when dealing with projects. Having said so, here are some important benefits that project managers can reap from project schedules in the long run.

Analysis and Planning

One of the most important benefits project scheduling offers project managers is the power to foresee any probable problems or blockades that a project might have. Project scheduling also allows them to plan by brainstorming the needs, deliverables, and deadlines of a project. This leads to having a thoughtful outcome, rather than guesswork, towards the end.

Improved Management

Project schedules are a roadmap that aims at streamlining a project efficiently. It’s a detailed plan that improves the management of teams, activities, resources, and other crucial elements of a project.

As a result, it also improves communication channels via which project managers can relay their team’s progress and performance to stakeholders based on KPIs.

Prioritization of Tasks & Quality Control

Without a project schedule, it would be difficult to determine which tasks have more priority than others. Since these schedules are transparent about everything in a project and everyone can see what tasks are to be done, it makes prioritization a breeze.

Teams can identify important tasks with the help of dependency management and float them onto people’s to-do lists, ensuring that they are done on time.

Management of Resources

Did you know? You only become aware of your resource requirements when adding details to your project schedule. This happens at the beginning of a project when creating the timeline, and staffing details are added.

Resources are accounted for when tasks are allocated to teams and their requirements, ranging from labor, equipment, materials, and/or facilities, are noted down. Imagine doing all that manually and getting everything done correctly throughout the timeline of a project.


With a project schedule, there can be no confusion about accountability since everyone on board has a clear understanding of their responsibilities, codependency, and task timeline plus that of their colleagues.

Other than that, with a project schedule, many issues and misunderstandings that might crop up during a project get eliminated. Thus project managers can be sure that all work is done in a focused and organized way.

Finance Management

Finance is another important element of a project that cannot be overlooked. Project scheduling ensures that a project does not go over budget, which is especially relevant when a project is under serious time constraints. It does so by ensuring adequate estimation of budgets for a project, hence preventing any unexpected expenses.

Time Management

Imagine working on a project manually, scribbling your tasks and dependencies on every page of your journal. How cumbersome would it be trying to find your notes by flipping the pages back and forth? Project scheduling tools eliminate all the hassles to save your and your team’s time, which you can invest in doing other important activities.

While project scheduling helps in the above mentioned ways, it makes sense to use the right tools to achieve your goals. Let’s explore how these help in the upcoming sections.

What Are Project Scheduling Tools?

Project scheduling tools consist of software that can help project managers easily plan a project, meet its objectives, and complete its deadlines effectively without much effort.

Other than that, project scheduling tools also assist with time management, finances, resource allocation, communication between different team members and stakeholders, as well as reporting of a project.

Project scheduling tools can be found online or can be created offline with the help of spreadsheets and documents. Also, they can be basic organizers like the calendar project schedule, while others are more advanced like Gantt, PERT, and CPM.

Download the Free Project Schedule Template

Looking for an organized timetable that displays the start and end dates of all project tasks and provides visibility into your project’s progress? Then, this customizable project schedule template from Replicon is exactly what you need.

The template has columns for task name, start date, end date, and number of days spent on that particular task. As you’ll input the task name in each row along with its start and end dates-

  • The number of days spent on that task will be automatically displayed
  • The cells for the entire duration of the task will get highlighted in green

This template can be easily downloaded in multiple formats, including XLXS, PDF, and Google Sheets.

Free Project Schedule Template

Top 5 Benefits of Using Project Scheduling Tools

There are many benefits attributed to the use of project scheduling tools. A wise business investment, project scheduling tools, centralize all your communication and make it easy to assign tasks and define priorities. It becomes easy to keep track of your team’s work and ensure that projects are progressing as planned.

Some of the benefits of using project scheduling tools are as follows-

  • Project Planning becomes easier with the use of a project scheduling tool. In the present day, project scheduling tools are more advanced. They can give more accurate predictions about a project’s timeline, the costs involved, and the resources needed throughout.
    With the assistance of such tools, project managers can establish a more solid foundation for their projects while also keeping any plans or progress up to date.
  • Resource management is a crucial component of project planning, especially when handling multiple projects. With the aid of project scheduling tools, project managers can easily manage their resources, avoid extra workloads on teams, and avoid bottlenecks.
  • Project managers can work with ease on multiple projects with project schedule tools. These tools offer a bird’s eye view of finished, running, and planned projects. This can prevent all types of bottlenecks that can lead to problems later in the project.
  • Project schedule tools are created with the intent to enhance collaboration among teams. Project scheduling tools offer employees a mode to unite while working on projects by consulting each other regarding things like timelines, tasks, and/or any outstanding work.
  • Customer satisfaction is another benefit that project managers reap from using project scheduling tools. These tools guarantee the prompt completion of a project within the estimated budget, which keeps customers happy and increases their trust in you.

Work Smarter With Project Schedules

There’s no doubt that project schedules are extremely valuable when it comes to project management and it’s an art that project managers must master at this age. Without a roadmap, reaching the final destination can be a bumpy ride. In the case of projects, it can mean missed deadlines and unsatisfactory outcomes.

Luckily, today there are many powerful project scheduling tools available for project managers to use and leverage the benefits. All you need to do is choose the right one based on your requirements to successfully deliver projects every time.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a project schedule?

A project schedule helps project managers track the progress of a project in real time. It’s a device that can be used for scheduling, measuring, and disseminating task timelines and milestones within a project.

It gives you access to any changes or modifications that might take place during the project. It consists of all requirements of a project so that projects can be completed on time and within the estimated budget. There are 3 types of project schedules, namely:

  • Master project schedule
  • Summary schedule
  • Detailed project schedule

2. How to write a project schedule?

Here are the steps to follow for the creation of a project schedule:

Step 1: Clarify Your Project Goals

Step 2: Identify All the Parties Concerned

Step 3: Know Your Deadline

Step 4: List Your Tasks

Step 5: Complete Task Assignments

Step 6: Keep Track of the Timeline for Each Task

Step 7: Always Manage Your Project Schedule With One Too

3. How is a project schedule used?

In project management, a project schedule can be used in a variety of ways to make sure that things are on track starting from defining the project scope right till the stage of completion. It contributes to the process of budget management, resource management, performance management and crisis management. This is achieved as all your communication becomes centralized and it becomes easier to assign tasks, define priorities and keep track of the work as per the plans.

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Namrata Diengdoh


Namrata Diengdoh

Namrata is a freelance writer with Deltek | Replicon. With 12 years of experience in the content industry, she has never settled for just "good enough". She believes in content that can engage and attract readers, whether the niche is fitness, food, or tech. When she is not typing on her laptop, Namrata is crafting or painting. Other than that, she loves spending time with her family and pets.

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