Project planning is broad in scope as it includes all the managerial activities that result in developing a course of action. Project scheduling is more specific by nature. It establishes time and phase goals and is therefore part of the process of goal setting. Since establishing goals is a planning sub-function, project scheduling is viewed as a subphase of overall project planning.
Scheduling is simply the time sequence of activities.
Scheduling is a sub-phase of planning, in that, once an alternative programme of action is identified a course can be established and time sequenced. It is mainly an exercise of integrating time, resources and work elements in the most efficient manner to achieve the specified objective function. Availability of resources and their economic distribution, time duration for individual activities and for the total work, and the estimated costs, all are inter-related through the scheduling exercise.
Project scheduling is the process of listing down step by step in sequential order the jobs involved in the implementation of a project. These steps in scheduling should be well-defined alongwith the required time to complete each step. Project scheduling is used for keeping down the level of resources deployment and making the optimum use of them. For this purpose, time estimates are made for all individual work elements.
Project scheduling may be either forward scheduling or backward scheduling depending upon the scheduling strategy of the project management. Forward scheduling starts as soon as the clearance of working front is available for an activity and is often finished before the required due date. The philosophy followed in this case is finish every activity as early as possible.’ On the other hand, backward scheduling starts backward from the required due date of finishing the activity and arrives at a required starting date. The starting date so arrived at will be the latest starting date.The philosophy here is ‘finish economically when required.’
Project scheduling is an important aspect of project management and control, and ensure timely implementation of a project. When the top management takes a final decision to launch the project, the project manager entrusts the jobs involved to personnel within the project team with assigned responsibility to ensure that the job is completed within the time-frame allotted and within the budgeted cost. Any deviation should be brought to the notice of the relevant functionproject team and the matter should be discussed with a decision on the corrective course of action.Any delay in completion of the project means avoidable extra costs to the project.