Project Schedule vs Project Plan What are the differences ?
If you are new to the project management, you may not know the differences between project schedule and plan because these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. We saw that some PMP aspirants new to project scheduling and planning often do not remember the difference between Project Plan and Project Schedule.
Project Plan and Project Schedule may sound quite similar to a lot of people. Although each concept plays a role in completing a project on time, they are two different concepts. In this article we will clarify the differences between them.
The PMBOK Guide describes the Project Plan as a formal, approved document which is used to guide both project execution and control. Some organizations use work plan instead of project plan.
The project plan is a comprehensive document which involves but not limited to the scope of work, baseline schedule, budget, costs, expenses, planning assumptions and facilitate communication among the stakeholders.
Activities, milestones, resource requirements, major products are detailed and documented in project plans.
The project plan answers general questions related with the project such as;
- Why did the organization undertake the projecyt?
- What benefit will the organization obtain from the project?
- What are the deliverables or the products of the project will be ?
- Which parties will be involved in the project ?
- What is the finish date ?
- What are the major project milestones?
- What are the scope, budget, and schedule of the project?
- What kind of technology will be used to perform the tasks?
As it is seen from the questions, the project plan deals with the “what” question related with the project. It provides a general vision for the project.
Every project needs a project schedule. Without a project schedule, your project will not achieve the goals in a limited time period. It details what work will be performed and when.
Resource allocation plans, mobilization plans, equipment plans and procurement plans rely on the project schedules. From this aspect, the project schedule generates a roadmap for other plans and provides dates for the project deliverables.
According to PMBOK Guide, a Project Schedule shows “the planned dates for performing activities and the planned dates for meeting milestones.”
A project schedule is a graphic presentation of all activities in a project required to produce the output. Gantt Charts, Network Diagrams, Critical Chain Method, Critical Path Method and PERT techniques can be used to create the project schedules.
For better understanding the concept, let’s take a glance at the project scheduling steps.
Project Scheduling Steps
Project Scheduling is the act of of determining which activities need to get done and which resources will be assigned to complete these activities in a specific period.
There are some steps to be taken in order to create a serviceable schedule
- Analyze the project scope and create the WBS (Work Breakdown Structure)
- Determine the activities
- Determine the resources
- Estimate the duration of each activity
- Assign the activity relationships
- Assign the resources
- Detail the schedule and analyze
- Monitor and control the schedule
Difference Between Project Plan and Project Schedule
- A project plan is an extensive document which includes project risks, budget, organization, scope, goals, objectives and also project schedule. On the other hand a project schedules involve planned dates and sequences of the project activities.
- A project plan focuses on the entire project. On the other hand a project schedules focus on the project activities, start and finish dates and dependencies.
- A project schedules alerts the project team about the critical path and potential delays.
- Project schedules are live documents that should be updated and reported regularly.
- A project schedule usually relies on softwares, methods and techniques such as Gantt Charts, Network Diagrams, PERT, CPM etc.
In project management, both Project Plans and Project Schedules are critical documents for a project’s success. Project Plans are comprehensive documents that also include the Project Schedules. It guides project execution and control.
On the other hand, a Project Schedule is a graphic presentation of the project activities and activity details. It can be created by using tools such as Gantt Charts, Network Diagrams, CPM and PERT techniques. You can analyze and check the critical path of the project by using the project schedule.
They are different but interrelated project documents. Therefore, understanding each concept and having knowledge about their use will help the project managers to manage their projects effectively.
In this article we discuss plan and schedule concepts. Note that these are important concepts from a project management point of view.
Are you using project schedules and plans in your projects ? If you want to add or share anything, you can do by using the comments section below.