PMP Certification Study Notes 6 – Project Schedule Management

PMP Time Management

Already UPDATED for the new PMP® Exam from 26 March 2018 onwards. Happy learning!

This Project Management Knowledge Area is known as  “Project Time Management” as described in the PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition (It is updated in PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition as “Project Schedule Management” which reflects more closely what a Project Manager is required to manage — only the schedule can be managed but not the time).

Introduction: This part of the PMP® exam study notes (updated for new PMP® Exam 2018) is based on Section 6 of new PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition. The study notes have been rewritten to reflect the latest changes in the PMBOK® Guide for the new PMP® Exam. More information on my PMP® certification exam preparation can be found at my PMP® exam and certification journey (with free PMP® study resources and tips) here.

Please note that the study notes below is intended to include only the most important or esaily confused PMP® concepts. It is by no means complete in the sense that one can rely on it to be fully prepared for the PMP® Exam. Aspirants are advised to make use of this piece of study notes for revision purposes. Wish you PMP® success!

Project Schedule Management

Formerly the “Project Time Management” Knowledge Area as in the PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition the “Project Schedule Management” (as updated in PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition) reflects more closely the Project Manager is required to manage — the project schedule (not the time).

  • The project manager is required to create a detailed schedule plan to describe how and when the project/team will deliver the products, services and results as defined in the project scope in the project management plan
  • The project schedule will later be used as a tool for communication (for managing stakeholder expectations) and performance assessment/reporting

Plan Schedule Management

  • Inputs: Project Charter, Project Management Plan, EEF, OPA
  • Tools & Techniques: Expert Judgement, Data Analysis, Meetings
  • Outputs: Schedule Management Plan 

  • defines policies, procedures and documentation for managing and controlling project schedule
    • including scheduling methodology, tools, level of accuracy, control thresholds (limit beyond which preventive/corrective actions needed), rules of performance measurement (e.g. earned value)
  • lead and lags are NOT considered as schedule constraints
  • Data analysis would include:
    • choosing the scheduling methodology (or a combination 9f various methods)c
    • determining the detail level of the schedule and how often the schedule needs to be reviewed and updated
    • the duration of waves for rolling wave planning, etc.

Define Activities

  • Inputs: Project Management Plan, EEF, OPA
  • Tools & Techniques: Expert Judgement, Decomposition, Rolling Wave Planning, Meetings
  • Outputs: Activity List, Activity Attributes, Milestone List, Change Requests, Project Management Plan Updates

  • the scope baseline (as part of the Project Mangement Plan) is used here as it represents the approved (stable) scope
  • further decompose work packages into activities for more detailed and accurate estimations
    • ‘activities’ is the PMI terminology for ‘tasks’ and ‘work efforts’
    • activity is more related to the actual work/process to produce the deliverables
    • activity types: level of efforts (support, measured in time period), discrete efforts or apportioned effort (in direct proportion to another discrete effort)
  • activities have durations while milestones do not (zero duration)
  • changes requests are listed as a possible output because progressive elaboration of deliverables into activities (using rolling wave planning) may allow us to discover work that was not initially included as part of the project baselines — need to update the project baselines

Sequence Activities

  • Inputs: Project Management Plan, Project Documents, EEF, OPA
  • Tools & Techniques: Precedence Diagramming Method, Dependency Determination and Integration, Leads and Lags, Project Management Information System
  • Outputs: Project Schedule Network Diagrams, Project Documents Updates

    • Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM) to diagram dependencies
      • Network Diagramming Tools are software tools that graphically represent activity sequences
      • network diagrams: shows dependencies, duration, workflow, help identifying critical paths
  • precedence relationships (also known as ‘activity on node (AON)‘ approach):
    • finish-to-start (the majority, accounts for about 95% of all precedence relationships)
    • start-to-start
    • finish-to-finish
    • start-to-finish (least)
  • Activity on Arrow (AOA) or Arrow Diagramming Method (ADM) activities are represented as arrows, dashed arrows represent dummy activities (duration: 0) that shows dependencies
  • Graphical Evaluation and Review Technique (GERT) allows for conditional branching and loops
  • Network Dependency Types (to be determined during Sequence Activities Process):
    • Mandatory Dependency (hard logic): A must be completed before B begins/ technical dependencies may not be hard
    • Discretionary Dependency (preferred, soft logic): sequence preferred by the organization, may be removed should fast-tracking is required
    • External Dependency: dependency required by external organization
    • Internal Dependency: precedence relationship usually within the project team’s control
  • Milestones: the completion of a key deliverable/a phase of the project, as checkpoints/summary for progress, often used in funding vendor activities
    • Milestone list is part of i) project plan, ii) project scope statement, iii) WBS dictionary
  • Leads: begin successor activity before end of predecessor, for schedule compression (fast-tracking) (negative lags)
  • Lags: imposed delay to successor activity, e.g. wait 2 weeks for concrete to cure (FS +14 days)
  • Network Diagram Setup: 7-box method, usually using software tools or 5-box method
  • if the ES and LS are identical, the activity is on the critical path
  • The Project Management Information System provides the scheduling software to allow planning the activities with logical relationships, leads, lags, etc.

Estimate Activity Durations

  • Inputs: Project Management Plan, Project Documents, EEF, OPA
  • Tools & Techniques: Expert Judgement, Analogous Estimating, Parametric Estimating, Three-point Estimating, Bottom-up Estimating, Data Analysis, Decision Making, Meetings
  • Outputs: Duration Estimates, Basis of Estimates, Project Documents Updates

  • consults SME (subject matter experts, i.e. the one carrying out the actual work) to come with the estimation, not on the PM’s own
  • Different Estimating Tools and Techniques:
    • Analogous Estimating: based on previous activity of similar nature (a form of expert judgement), used when little is known or very similar scope, works well when project is small, NOT ACCURATE
    • Parametric Estimating: based on some parameters, e.g. the time for producing 1000 component based on that for 1 component * 1000, use an algorithm based on historical data, accuracy depends on the parameters selected, can be used on [a portion of / the entire] project
    • One-Point Estimating: based on expert judgement, but highly unreliable
    • Three-Point Estimating: best (optimistic), most likely (realistic), worst (pessimistic) cases, Triangular Distribution vs PERT (Project Evaluation and Review Techniques, Beta Distribution, weighted average using statistical methods [most likely * 4 – 95% confidence level with 2 sigma]), triangular distribution (non-weighted average of three data points), uncertainties are accounted for
    • In real-world applications, the PERT estimate is processed using Monte Carlo analysis, tie specific confidence factors to the PERT estimate
    • Bottom-Up Estimating: a detailed estimate by decomposing the tasks (lower-level components of the WBS) and aggregating the estimates based on reliable historical values, most accurate but time-consuming
    • Heuristics: use rule of thumb for estimating
  • standard deviation (sigma value, deviation from mean, to specify the precision of measurement): 1 sigma: 68%, 2 sigma 95%, 3 sigma 99.7%, 6 sigma 99.99%
  • accuracy is the conformance to the target value
  • contingency reserve: for known unknowns, owned by PM, may be updated, part of schedule baseline
  • management reserve: for unknown unknowns, owned by management, included in overall schedule requirements
  • update to documents: the basis of estimates, assumptions and contingencies
  • activity duration estimate may be in a range, don’t include lags
  • Data Analysis tools and technique may include:
    • Alternatives analysis
    • Reserve analysis
  • Duration Estimates are the quantitative assessments of the likely durations that are required to complete the activities, phases or a project (maybe in the form of a range).
  • Basis of Estimates provide the detail to support duration estimate process (e.g. the basis of the estimate, assumptions, constraints, ranges of possible estimates, confidence levels of the final estimate, individual project risks influencing this estimate, etc.)

Develop Schedule

  • Inputs: Project Management Plan, Project Documents, Agreements, EEF, OPA
  • Tools & Techniques: Schedule Network Analysis, Critical Path Method, Resource Optimization, Data Analysis, Lead and Lags, Schedule Compression, Project Management Information System, Agile Release Planning
  • Outputs: Schedule Baseline, Project Schedule, Schedule Data, Project Calendars, Change Requests, Project Managment Plan Updates, Project Documents Updates

  • the schedule baseline is the approved and signed version of project schedule that is incorporated into the PM plan
  • the project schedule is calendar-based taking into accounts holidays/resource availability/vacations
    • vs the time estimate (work effort/level of effort) just describes the man hours/man days
  • the Schedule Data includes schedule milestones, schedule activities, activities attributes, and documentation of all assumptions and constraints, alternative schedules and scheduling of contingency reserves
  • Slack/Float
    • Slack/Float: activities that can be delayed without impacting the schedule
    • Free slack/float: time an activity can be delayed without delaying the Early Start of the successor
    • Total slack/float: time an activity can be delayed from early start without delaying the project end date (scheduling flexibility), can be negative, 0 (on the critical path) or positive
    • Project Float: without affecting another project
    • Negative float: problem with schedule, need schedule rework
    • Project slack/float: time the project can be delayed without delaying another project
      • Early Start (ES) – earliest time to start the activity
      • Late Start (LS) – latest time to start without impacting the late finish
      • Early Finish (EF) – earliest time to end the activity
      • Late Finish (LF) – latest time to finish without impacting successor activity
      • Slack/Float = LS – ES or LF – EF
      • The float is the highest single value along the critical path, NOT the sum of them
  • Critical Path: the longest path that amount to shortest possible completion time (usually zero floats, activities with mandatory dependency with finish-to-start relationship), can have more than 1 critical paths (more risks), critical paths may change (keep an eye on near-critical paths)
    • activities on the critical path are called critical activities
    • Path with negative float = behind schedule, need compression to eliminate negative float
  • Forward Pass: compute the early start
  • Backward Pass: compute the late start
  • Fast Tracking: allow overlapping of activities or activities in parallel, included risks/resource overloading
  • Crashing: shorten the activities by adding resources, may result in team burnout
  • Agreements are added as an input (in PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition) as these contain details of how the sellers/vendors will perform the project work to meet contractual commitments. Works from external parties will have a direct impact on the project schedule.
  • Agile Release Planning, also added as an input, provides a high-level summary timeline of the release schedule (typically within 3-6 months) based on the product roadmap and the product vision for the product releases (based on business goals, dependencies, etc.)
    • determines the number of iterations or sprints required in a release
    • allows the product owner and team to decide how much time needed
  • Scheduling Techniques
    • Critical Path Method (CPM) – compute the forward and backward pass to determine the critical path and float
    • Critical Chain Method (CCM) – deal with scarce resources and uncertainties, keep the resources levelly loaded by chaining all activities and grouping the contingency and put at the end as project buffer, for activities running in parallel, the contingency is called feeding buffer (expect 50% of activities to overrun)
    • The buffer is determined by assessing the number of uncertainties, human factors, etc.
  • Parkinson’s Law: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
  • Resource Optimization Techniques
    • Resource leveling is used to adjust the variation in resource loading to stabilize the number of resources working each time and to avoid burnout, may need to extend the schedule in CPM
    • Resource smoothing is to adjust resource requirements so as not to exceed predetermined resource limits, but only optimized within the float boundaries
  • Data Analysis Tools
    • What if analysis: to address feasibility/possibility of meeting project schedule, useful in creating contingency plan
    • Monte Carlo: run thousands of times to obtain the distribution using a set of random variables (stochastic variables), use a combination of PERT estimate and triangular distributions as endpoint estimates to create the model to eliminate schedule risks, the graph is an ‘S’ curve
  • Network Diagram: bar charts with logical connections
  • Hammock activities: higher-level summary activities between milestones
  • Milestone Charts: show only major deliverables/events on the timeline
  • data date (status date, as-of date): the date on which the data is recorded
  • the Project Calendars identify working days

Control Schedule

  • Inputs: Project Management Plan, Project Documents, Work Performance Data, OPA
  • Tools & Techniques: Data Analysis, Critical Path Method, Project Management Information System, Resource Optimization, Lead and Lags, Schedule Compression
  • Outputs: Work Performance Information, Schedule Forecasts, Change Requests, Project Managment Plan Updates, Project Documents Updates

  • measure result, make adjustments to the project work plan (if needed) through resource optimization, lead and lags or schedule compression, and adjust metrics
  • Data analysis includes:
    • Earned value analysis
    • Iteration burndown chart
    • Performance reviews
    • Trend analysis
    • Variance analysis
    • What-if scenario analysis
  • Change requests generated are to be assessed in the Perform Integrated Control Process


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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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5 Responses

  1. Abir says:

    Hi Edward, Do you think a question for standard deviation of the total path can come ?

    • Edward Chung says:

      Though everything is possible, I don’t think PMP Aspirants are required to calculate in such details. After all, the PMP Exam is a test of you understanding of the concepts rather than mathematical skills.

      Wish you PMP success!

  2. Abir says:

    Hi Edward, Could you please explain how lead time works for FF and SS relationship ? I encountered a question online where activity 1 (20 days) activity 2 (10 days) activity 3( 5 days FF with activity 2 and lead -2) activity 4 (6 days with lag 3) [all are FS except 2 ->3 which FF] ? What is the total duration with the path ?
    I am finding difficulty to understand how it is 37 days ?

    • Edward Chung says:

      Note the following:
      FF – the predecessor activity must be finished for this activity to finish;
      SS – the predecessor activity must start for this activity to start;
      FS – the successor activity cannot start until a predecessor activity has finished.

      If you are clear about these definitions, you will be able to get the correct answer.

      Wish you PMP success!

  3. Siva says:

    Dear Sir – Could you please send me the mind map diagram that could help remember/pass exam.
    Regards – Siva