The project schedule consists of the project’s terminal elements and their start and finish dates. The terminals elements are usually the elements which are lowest in a schedule and cannot be further divided. Such items can be estimated in terms of the resource requirements, budget and duration for the tasks. The process of scheduling a project involves proper allocation of resources to different tasks in the project (Neumann et al, 2011). During this process, the project manager should ensure that he/she has a work breakdown structure which will indicate all the schedules and the resources required for each task (Mubarak, 2010).
The critical path is the longest path that a project can take to be completed.
Consider the PERT diagram below
In the above PERT diagram, the critical path is 1 – 2 – 6. It is the longest path. Once the critical path has been identified, project schedule can then be determined. It is very easy to schedule a project after establishing the critical path and the duration for the project is known.
Each activity can then be allocated some resources which should not exceed the ones on the critical path. The critical path helps to determine the overall project duration. This will help during the projects scheduling to allocate resources and ensure that the project is completed on time. Since the task durations depend on the project resources, some tasks can be started before other tasks complete and in some cases the resources can be increased so as to ensure that the project completes promptly.
In situations whereby the calculated project completion does not equal the target completion date, resources can be increased while the duration of other tasks shortened. Some tasks can also overlap – start before the completion of other tasks. This helps to ensure that the limited resources are shared between different tasks. This can be achieved through a process called crushing the schedule or resource leveling (Mubarak, 2010).
Saleh A. Mubarak (2010) Construction Project Scheduling and Control. Wiley Publishers
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Christoph Schwindt & Jürgen Zimmermann (2011) Project Scheduling with
Time Windows and Scarce Resources: Temporal and Resource-Constrained Project
Scheduling with Regular and Nonregular Objective Functions; Springer Publishers