Effective project scheduling is a critical aspect of Project Management Professional (PMP) exam preparation. For project managers, the ability to develop and manage realistic project schedules is a key skill tested in the PMP examination. This article will focus on how to prepare a schedule based on a methodology within the context of the PMP exam.

Table of Contents

1. Understand the Project Management Framework

The first step to schedule development is to understand the Project Management Framework as outlined in the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). This includes understanding the five project management process groups (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Control, and Closing), ten knowledge areas, and the specific processes related to project scheduling within the Project Time Management knowledge area.

2. Review Input, Tools, and Techniques for Schedule Development

As part of your PMP exam study, review the inputs, tools, techniques, and outputs related to the ‘Develop Schedule’ process. This understanding will help you select the appropriate project scheduling method for your exam questions.

  • Inputs: Schedule management plan, activity list, activity attributes, project schedule network diagrams, activity resource requirements, resource calendars, project scope statement, enterprise environmental factors, and organizational process assets.
  • Tools and Techniques: Schedule network analysis, critical path method, critical chain method, resource optimization techniques, modeling techniques, leads and lags, schedule compression, scheduling tool.
  • Outputs: Project schedule, schedule baseline, project calendars, project management plan updates.
    • 3. Study Different Scheduling Methodologies

      There are several project scheduling methodologies used in project management. Among the most common are the Critical Path Method (CPM), Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT), and Gantt Charts. Understanding these methodologies, their strengths, weaknesses, and optimal utilization scenarios, will give you an advantage during the PMP exam.

      4. Use Schedule Data and Analytics

      As part of your preparation for the PMP exam, understand how to calculate crucial schedule-related figures such as float/slack, early start/finish, and late start/finish dates. Comprehend how altering project activities affects the project schedule and how to re-balance or optimize the schedule when necessary.

      5. Apply Scheduling Techniques to Practice Questions

      One of the best ways to understand scheduling methodologies is to apply them in practice questions. This will not only reinforce your understanding but also prepare you for the exam format. Make sure to practice both simple and complex questions to be well-rounded.

      6. Review the Concepts Regularly

      The key to passing the PMP exam is through regular review and practice. Given the volume and complexity of the material, consistent study is necessary for retention. Consider using flashcards, practice exams, and study groups to help reinforce and test your understanding of project scheduling.

      In Conclusion

      Preparing a schedule based on a methodology is a vital skill for any project manager and a significant aspect of the PMP exam. By following these outlined steps, you’ll be well on your way to mastering project scheduling and passing your PMP exam.

Practice Test

True or False: A methodology is an essential aspect for preparing a project schedule.

  • True
  • False

Answer: True

Explanation: A methodology provides the framework for planning, executing, monitoring, and closing a project. It helps in defining the schedule clearly and systematically.

True or False: All projects use a single, universal methodology.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False

Explanation: Not all projects use the same methodology. It depends on the nature, complexity, and requirements of the project.

In Scrum methodology, a schedule is divided into a series of:

  • A. Use cases
  • B. Sprint backlogs
  • C. Sprints
  • D. Gantt charts

Answer: C. Sprints

Explanation: In Scrum, a project is divided into cycles called Sprints, which are timeboxed (usually two to four weeks). This allows for intensive work on specific goals for each sprint, which gets reviewed and adapted as required at the end of each series.

True or False: Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is an element of the Agile methodology to prepare a schedule.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False

Explanation: WBS is a tool used in traditional project management methods like the Waterfall model. It breaks down the project into manageable chunks, but is not commonly used in Agile methodology which focuses on iterations and flexibility.

Critical Path Method (CPM) is a technique used for:

  • A. Risk analysis
  • B. Preparing the schedule
  • C. Cost estimation
  • D. Team communication

Answer: B. Preparing the schedule

Explanation: The Critical Path Method is a scheduling technique that identifies the minimum amount of time a project will require by focusing on a sequence of task activities.

True or False: The Agile methodology requires a very detailed schedule at the start of the project.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False

Explanation: Agile promotes flexibility and responsiveness to changes. While some planning is needed, detailed schedules for the entire project are generally not established upfront in Agile projects.

Gantt charts are mainly used in:

  • A. Lean methodology
  • B. Waterfall methodology
  • C. Agile methodology
  • D. Six Sigma methodology

Answer: B. Waterfall methodology

Explanation: Gantt charts are primarily used in Waterfall methodology to graphically depict the project schedule, showing all the tasks and their dependencies over time.

True or False: The time required for a task in the project schedule is estimated during the risk management process.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False

Explanation: Estimation of task duration is part of the schedule management process, not risk management.

Which of the following is not a part of preparing a schedule?

  • A. Cost estimation
  • B. Identification of project tasks
  • C. Sequencing of tasks
  • D. Estimation of task durations

Answer: A. Cost estimation

Explanation: While cost estimation is a critical part of project management, it is not directly involved in the process of preparing a project schedule.

True or False: The Critical Chain Method is a project scheduling technique that identifies the shortest project duration.

  • True
  • False

Answer: True

Explanation: The Critical Chain Method is a scheduling technique that considers both task interdependencies and resource constraints to determine the shortest possible project duration.

Which of the following methodologies advocates frequent revisiting and revision of project schedules?

  • A. Waterfall
  • B. Agile
  • C. Six Sigma
  • D. PRINCE2

Answer: B. Agile

Explanation: Agile methodology promotes flexibility and adaptability, thus it advocates frequent revisiting and revision of project schedules based on learning and change in requirements.

Interview Questions

What role does the project management methodology play in schedule preparation?

The project management methodology guides the sequencing and allocation of tasks, resources, and time periods during schedule preparation. It provides a structured framework for ensuring the project is completed within the defined time limit.

Which vital project management tool is used while preparing a schedule based on methodology?

A Gantt chart is one of the primary tools used for preparing a schedule as it visually illustrates the start and finish dates of each task, facilitating better project planning and coordination.

How does the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) facilitate schedule creation in project management?

The WBS breaks down the project into smaller, manageable pieces, which can then be scheduled with specific start and end dates. It aids in the identification of dependencies between tasks and helps in prioritizing activities.

In which PMP process group is the project schedule predominantly created?

The project schedule is predominantly prepared during the planning process group which explores the methodology, activities and resources to best achieve the project goal.

What is the primary output of the Define Activities process in Project Schedule Management?

The primary output of the Define Activities process is an activity list, which includes all scheduled activities required to complete the project’s work.

What is Critical Path Method (CPM) in terms of preparing a schedule?

CPM is a technique used to predict project duration by analyzing which sequence of activities (path) has the least amount of scheduling flexibility (or float). The longest path is thus termed as the critical path.

How is Resource smoothing related to preparing a project schedule?

Resource smoothing is a technique used in project management to adjust the project schedule and balance the demand for project resources to available supply, without extending the project schedule beyond its imposed date.

What role does ‘Sequence Activities’ process play in schedule management?

‘Sequence Activities’ involves identifying and documenting the relationships among project activities. It helps in defining the logical sequence of work to obtain the greatest efficiency given all project constraints.

What is the importance of schedule baselines in project management?

A schedule baseline is the original approved plan, with the start and finish dates, against which the actual schedule can be compared. It provides a measure for performance and control throughout the life of the project.

How does the PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) assist in schedule preparation in project management?

PERT is a statistical tool used in project management, which allows you to weight estimated durations for each activity to develop a more realistic project schedule.

Explain the term “Fast Tracking” used in schedule development.

Fast Tracking is a scheduling technique where activities that are originally planned to be performed sequentially are executed in parallel for project schedule compression.

Which methodological tool helps to visualize dependencies in project schedule?

Network diagrams are methodological tools that help to visualize dependencies and sequence of project activities during project schedule planning.

What is the purpose of using a milestone chart in preparing a project schedule?

A milestone chart is used to depict key events in a project timeline. It helps keep the team focused on achieving set objectives within the project schedule.

How does “Resource Leveling” contribute to developing a project schedule?

Resource Leveling is a technique used to resolve resource conflicts by altering the project schedule. It aims to balance the demand for resources with the available supply and ensures efficient use of resources throughout the project.

What is lag in project scheduling and how does it influence the schedule?

Lag is a delay between tasks that have a dependency. For instance, if you must wait for a task to start or finish before you can move on to the next task, the waiting time is called the lag time. In project scheduling, it influences the total duration of the project and the start and finish dates of subsequent tasks.

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