Project Planning Vs Project Scheduling: Key Difference, Benefits And Stages

This article will focus on explaining project planning Vs project scheduling. It will begin by defining both terms and then will proceed with providing some of the suggested steps toward proper project planning and scheduling. The article will then demonstrate the benefits of both project scheduling and project planning and will also attempt to show some of the main differences between these concepts.

What are Project Scheduling and Project Planning?

Scheduling in project management is the process that involves the listing of activities, deliverables and milestones of a project. The schedule for the project also involves a well-planned start and finish date, duration and resources dedicated for each activity. Basically, project scheduling is helpful because it helps you as project manager to carefully list the tasks to be completed so you can easily know what comes next.

According to the official PMBOK guide, project planning is a “formal, approved document which is used to guide both project execution and control”. Some organizations prefer to use the term work plan instead of project plan. Furthermore, a project plan represents a rather comprehensive document which includes project risks, organization, budget, scope, objectives, goals and project schedule itself. A project plan defines the basics of a project and thus helps turn an intangible idea into reality.

Project Planning Vs Project Scheduling

Steps of Project Planning and Project Scheduling

Project planning steps

Before listing the main steps, it must be emphasized that a project plan represents a living document which is always subject to change. The following represent the steps toward project plan creation.

  1. Define the project stakeholders
  2. Define stakeholders’ roles in the project
  3. Introduce stakeholders to one another
  4. Set project goals and deliverables
  5. List the main tasks according to set priorities
  6. Create a schedule
  7. Identify and assess project risks
  8. Share the plan with stakeholders
  9. Perform necessary revisions
  10.  Make a performance evaluation

Project scheduling steps

Project scheduling process involves the following steps:

  1. Analyze project scope and create the Work Breakdown Structure
  2. Determine the activities
  3. Determine the resources
  4. Calculate the duration of activities
  5. Determine the activity relationships and resources
  6. Create a detailed schedule and analyze
  7. Monitor and control the schedule

Benefits of Project Planning and Project Scheduling

Project Planning Benefits

Project planning provides the following benefits:

  • Assists the process of project scheduling
  • It is useful in ensuring that the project will actually be implemented
  • Ensures that progress is tracked and milestones are hit
  • Ensures that clear priorities have been set
  • Useful in assessing the necessary risks to help take action
  • Useful in proper resource allocation
  • Useful in the process of communication and responsibility sharing

Project Scheduling Benefits

Project scheduling provides the following benefits:

  • Assists the processes of reporting, tracking and monitoring progress
  • Ensures that everyone is following  tasks, deadlines and dependencies
  • Demonstrates main concerns and issues such as the lack of resources
  • Identifies the relationships among different tasks
  • Useful in monitoring progress and identifying possible issues early

Project Planning vs Project Scheduling

While there is a tendency to perceive project planning and project scheduling as a rather similar process, there are clear differences among both. In fact, project scheduling can be considered to be part of the larger and more comprehensive process of project planning. More specifically, project planning as a general document encompasses all the relevant aspects of a project such as budget, goals, organisation and project schedule itself. On the other hand, project scheduling generally tends to be more focused on the proper handling of project activities.

Furthermore, a project plan is considered as the “master blueprint” of a project while project scheduling represents the specific details of particular activities. Project scheduling happens only after there is a clear understanding of the project plan. In addition to this, while the project plan is perceived as rather stable, the project scheduling process is much more fluid. This means that changes in the project plan are rather rare, but the schedule can be rescheduled as many times as necessary. Project planning can be put in a rather simple word process document, but project scheduling tends to be completed using much more complicated software.

Project Planning and Project Scheduling Examples

Project Scheduling Example

Project Scheduling
A work breakdown structure (WBS) is used to bring the project schedule to life (Source: Asana)

Project Planning Example

Project Planning 1
Project Plan Template (Source: Nuclino)

Which comes first planning or scheduling?

Project scheduling generally comes after there has been a general agreement over the project plan.

What are the basic principles of project scheduling?

The basic principles of scheduling involve: define the scope, develop milestones and dependencies between tasks, assign resources for task completion and then follow up with regular reporting for progress monitoring and to ensure that the plan is on track.

How do you create a project plan?

The project plan is completed by listing the following elements: Executive Summary, Policy and Procedures. Schedules, Timeline plans and Budgets.

How do you create a project schedule?

The following are included in the project schedule: Deliverables; Tasks; Task start and end dates; Task dependencies; Project Calendar; Work Packages; Task duration and project timeline; Budgets; Resource availability; Schedule risk analysis.

How important are project planning and scheduling?

Project planning sets the main goals for the entire project completion while project scheduling ensures the right implementation of project activities.

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