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Developing a Project Schedule, by Corinne Maddox, CCM, CFM

If you ask people what makes a project successful, a "good schedule" usually tops the list. A schedule is simply a work plan set to a calendar. Schedules can be as simple as a milestone task list with dates, or as complex as a manpower-loaded computerized program with hundreds of activities. Common schedule types include: Milestone charts key events of the project with dates Gantt or bar charts project activities, each with an associated horizontal bar tied to a time line, CPM (Critical Path Method) - mathematically calculated based on activity lists, activity durations, assigned predecessors and successors and constraints. The "critical path" is the sequence(s) of activities that takes the longest to complete, which if lengthened or shortened would lengthen or shorten the entire schedule in turn. The larger, the more complex and the more time sensitive the project is, the more detailed the schedule should be. To begin, identify basic project activities. Sequence the activities and assign durations for each. Next, assign start and finish dates for each activity based on the task relationships and durations. Finally, adjust or "smooth" the schedule details to fit the desired completion date and available project resources

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