PMKI Index
the PMKI

Scheduling Good Practice

Location:  PMKI > Project Controls and Scheduling > Scheduling Good Practice. 

This subject focuses on core scheduling practice and looks at what makes a good schedule, what makes a good planner, and what should they do; the ‘good practices’ needed to create and manage an effective schedule.

The PMKI Library

Topics included in Scheduling Good Practice:

- Useful external web-links

Other related sections of the PMKI:




Temporary Subject List - this page is being built:

Core Papers
These are substantial papers focusing on core aspects of our profession.
  • A Guide to Scheduling Good Practice describes the work undertaken by a scheduler to create an effective 'dynamic schedule' and is consistent with the PMBOK Guide and the PMI Practice Standard for Scheduling. [Open the paper]
  • Attributes of a Scheduler considers the personal skills and competencies needed by a person to be an effective scheduler and describes the various 'roles' a scheduler will have during the life cycle of a typical project including the difference between planning and scheduling and the scheduling value proposition. [Open the paper]
  • Dynamic Scheduling describes the benefits derived from developing a 'good schedule' as defined in a 'A Guide to Scheduling Good Practice'. [Open the paper]
  • Links, Lags & Ladders focuses on the issues, problems and challenges of overlapping tasks in a schedule using various link types (F-S, S-S, F-F-, S-F) with or without lead and lag durations, the more sophisticated 'ladder' concept, and the importance of actively managing the 'space' between tasks. [Open the paper 
  • Schedule Float discusses the various calculations and definitions for float in both ADM and PDM networks. [Open the paper]   
  • Schedule Levels provides a guide the 5 levels of schedule typically used on major projects from the 'Master Schedule' to the 'Detailed Short Term Schedule', adapted from Bechtel & Fluor standards. [Open the paper]
  • Schedule Calculations  a guide the Time Analysis and Float calculations used in PDM schedules. [Open the paper]

The need for good scheduling practice:

The disastrous state of schedule practice in the construction industry is detailed in the report Managing the Risk of Delayed Completion in the 21st Century [or download the smaller executive summary]. Between December 2007 and January 2008, The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) conducted a survey of the construction industry’s knowledge and experience of different methods of project control, and time management, record keeping, monitoring and training.  The findings suggested there was a lot of work needed to achieve general 'best practice'.

We definitely expect to see the management of 'time risks' improved from this work and the comparable efforts being lead by Planning Planet and  the publication of  'The Practice Standard for Scheduling' by PMI was only the beginning!

The Practice Standard for Scheduling 2nd Edition

Price: $85.00
(Australia only)

Effective project scheduling is critical to the success of a project. PMI's The Practice Standard for Scheduling is a systematic guide describing the hallmarks of an effective scheduling methodology, as well as providing quantifiable means for assessing the maturity of a schedule model. 
Chapters: 1 - Intro
2 - Schedule Model principles and concepts (methods and techniques)
3 - Good Practices Overview
4 - Scheduling Components 

ie, a listing of items and their characteristics: name, required/optional, calculated/manual, data format, behaviour description, good practices, associated component, definition
5 - Conformance Index and Conformance Scoring in Appx D and E.

Plus a lengthy Glossary
This standard is available from:
Mosaic's book shop
The PMI Bookshop:

Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Time in Major Projects.   Publisher: Wiley Blackwell

Price: $110.oo (Australia only)

Without effective time management there can be no effective resource management, cost management or delay management. The primary purpose of this Guide is to set down the standards necessary to facilitate the effective and competent management of time in complex projects. It defines the standards by which project schedules will be prepared, quality controlled, updated, reviewed and revised in practice and describes the standards of performance which should reasonably be required of a project scheduler. 

The Guide has been developed as a scheduling reference document capable of wide application. It is a practical treatise on the processes to be followed and standards to be achieved in effective management of time. It can be used in any jurisdiction, under any form of contract, with any type of project and should be identified as the required standard for the preparation and updating of contract programs, progress reporting and time management.

The concepts contained in The Guide are implemented by the CIOB Complex Projects Contract; see more on the contract.

GAO Schedule Assessment Guide: Best Practices for Project Schedules - GAO-16-89G: Published: 22nd December 2015.

Price:  Free

This schedule guide is a companion to the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide. The Schedule Assessment Guide and Cost Guide, together offer a consistent methodology for developing, managing, and evaluating capital program cost estimates includes the concept of scheduling the necessary work to a timeline. Simply put, schedule variances are usually followed by cost variances. Because some program costs such as labor, supervision, rented equipment, and facilities cost more if the program takes longer, a reliable schedule can contribute to an understanding of the cost impact if the program does not finish on time. In addition, management tends to respond to schedule delays by adding more resources or authorizing overtime. Further, a schedule risk analysis allows for program management to account for the cost effects of schedule slippage when developing the life-cycle cost estimate. A cost estimate cannot be considered credible if it does not account for the cost effects of schedule slippage.

Download the 
GAO Schedule Assessment Guide from:  
Download the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide from:  

Mosaic's Published Papers

  • 5-STEPS, Five Steps To Ensure Project Success - The ‘5 Steps To Ensure Project Success’ methodology is a proven process designed to focus the thinking of the key Stakeholders onto the parameters required to achieve a successful project outcome. [View Abstract]
  • A Brief History of Scheduling - The first paper is a brief history of scheduling from the late 18th century to the present, including the first 60 years of 'Critical Path' Scheduling; and arguably the evolution of modern project management. The suggestion is that the growth of modern project management is a direct consequence of the need to make effective use of the data generated by the schedulers in an attempt to manage the 'project' and control the 'critical path'.  The second paper, The Origins of Bar Charting looks at the emerging concepts that allowed bar charts to be developed in 1760. This paper starts with the Ancient Greeks and traces the underlying principles through to the 18th century. [View Abstract]
  • Avoiding the 'Tipping Point to Failure'   - A performing organisation can manage a level of complexity in its projects based on prior experience, maturity, supporting systems and the capability of the people managing the work.  As long as this ‘complexity quotient’ is within the management capability of the organisation and the people it deploys, reasonably predictable outcomes can be expected and normal risk management practices are likely to be effective.  Change any of these parameters to the point where the overall tipping point is reached and there is a sudden breakdown that causes a significant negative change in the likely project outcomes. Recovery is no longer a simple process of marginally increasing the resources deployed, what’s needed is a massive change in the capability of resources. Whilst it is impossible to predict where a tipping point may occur until after it has been reached, effective project control systems can provide early warnings. [View Abstract]

  • Beyond Reporting - The Communication Strategy - Communication is a science and an art. Communicating effectively with the project’s important stakeholders, so that their expectations can be both managed and met, is central to achieving a successful outcome. Reports are not enough! Communication is a complex two way process within the overall relationship between the project and the stakeholder. This paper identifies the key processes involved in developing and implementing an effective communication strategy. [View Abstract]
  • Calculating and Using Float  This paper argues that the lack of defined calculations for most of the float values in a PDM schedule must reduce the overall value of the schedule model compared to more rigorous approaches but also recognises that if scheduling is a modelling process designed to affect the future behaviours of people working on the project other factors may be more important. [View Abstract]
  • CIOB’s Contribution to the Effective Management of Time in Construction Projects - This paper outlines the major advances in the practice of project planning and scheduling introduced by the Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Time in Complex Projects (see more on The Guide) and gives an up-to-date report on current developments in the effective management of time being led by CIOB. [View Abstract]
  • Communication in organisations: making the schedule effective - There is no point working hard to develop a schedule that is not used! Once the schedule has been created or updated, it is its role as a communication medium that can have the most powerful influence on the successful delivery of a project and the skills outlined in this presentation become critical to realising the value embedded in the scheduling tool. [View Abstract]
  • (The) Cost of Time - or who's duration is it anyway? - Probably the most common action undertaken by schedulers everywhere is assigning a duration to a task. This paper outlines the factors influencing the choice of an optimum duration. Considers the factors that can cause the duration to be modified during the planning phase and then outlines some of the likely costs associated with accelerating the project. [View Abstract]
  • (The) Effective Management of Time in the 21st century  This paper overviews a range of ideas to assist in the effective management of time including:
        * The need for effective planning ahead of scheduling and the different objective of these two processes.
        * The concept of ‘schedule density’ and the need to schedule at an appropriate level of detail based on the contemporary knowledge available to the project team.
        * The need for on-going dynamic scheduling to manage time.
        * The need to contemporaneously assess the impact of delaying events in real time based on accurate and current schedules to allow effective mitigation.
        * The need for effective training and credentialling of planners and schedulers
    . [View Abstract]
  • (The) Effective Management of Time in Complex Projects - an ICT perspective  The IT industry’s inability to effectively manage time has been widely documented, other industries fare no better! In response to this challenge, the CIOB assembled an international team of project planning and scheduling experts to develop a Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Time in Complex Projects (the Guide). This paper will identify the key elements within the Guide that proactively contribute to the successful delivery of complex projects and offer a way forward to improve time management. [View Abstract]
  • (The) Effective Management of Time on Mega Projects - Why there are so many problems and how to solve them? - The construction industry’s ability to effectively manage time is getting worse. In response to this challenge, the CIOB assembled an international team of project planning and scheduling experts to develop a Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Time in Complex Projects (the Guide). This paper will identify the key elements within the Guide that proactively contribute to the successful delivery of mega projects, relate these ideas to practical examples of their use on mega-projects and offer a way forward to improve time management. [View Abstract]
  • Establish the project schedule - The steps needed to develop and validate an effective project schedule.. [Download the presentation]
  • Estimating Fallacies - excessive detail does not help - Estimating costs and durations can be done in great detail, however, detailed is not synonymous with accurate! This paper sets out a pragmatic framework for estimating that offers realistic levels of accuracy to generate sensible expectations for a reasonable investment of estimating effort. [View Abstract]
  • Float - Is It Real? - The existence of a ‘critical path’ and non-critical activities (with their associated ‘float’) grew out of the science of ‘scheduling’ as defined by Critical Path Analysis (CPA) and are barely 50 years old! This paper analyses the factors creating the ‘critical path’ and ‘float’ within a schedule and then look at ways of resolving the conflicting views of float encountered in the literature. Potential solutions include the UK ‘Delay and Disruption Protocol’, client led integrated teams and the use of alternative planning methods such as location based scheduling, trend analysis and earned schedule. [View Abstract] 
  • Henry L. Gantt - A Retrospective view of his work This paper describes the important contributions made by Henry Gantt to modern management and defines what a 'Gantt Chart' really is. What the modern worked calls a 'Gantt Charts' pre-dates Gantt by more than a century. A second paper looks at the potential source of the misuse of term Gantt Chart. [View Abstract].

  • Improving Schedule Management - This paper describes the changing role of scheduling within the complex dynamic environment of modern projects and programs. PMI’s contributions including the SEI, standards and credentials are identified. The attributes needed for an effective schedule and the skills needed by an effective scheduler are described and linked to the emerging paradigms of complexity theory. [View Abstract]
  • Managing for Success - The power of regular updates - Critical path scheduling techniques, supported by efficient scheduling software have long been recognised as a standard component in the overall project management process. This paper looks at the interaction between the analytical and psychological processes involved in schedule development and control systems to identify ways to deliver major enhancements in the planning / scheduling process. [View Abstract]
  • Practical project controls – the art of getting to ‘Done’! - Getting to ‘done’ is the objective of any project, done on time, done on budget and done to the satisfaction of stakeholders.  Most projects fail to achieve this. This presentation looks at the reasons for this failure and suggest a practical framework for successfully getting your projects to ‘done’. [View Abstract]
  • Project Controls in the C21 – What works / What’s fiction - This paper takes a controversial look at the relevance of project control systems and suggests the changes in skills, attitudes and practices needed to keep scheduling, cost control and EV relevant in the coming years. Updated to include a presentation to the AIPM PC-SIG on Trends in Project Controls [View Abstract] 
  • Project management vs Project scheduling - This presentation focuses on the differences between successful schedulers and successful project managers and how together they can create successful project outcomes. [View Abstract] 
  • Resource optimisation - a new paradigm for project scheduling A resource optimisation approach would involve changing the underlying philosophical approach embedded in CPM from a belief that the pre-determined duration and sequencing of activities takes precedence, to one that recognises the real objective of scheduling is to keep the resources working effectively. This paper looks at two alternative approaches to achieving this objective. [View Abstract]
  • Scheduling in a Defence Environment - The primary purpose of any schedule should be to help the project manager and project team optimise the overall strategy for the delivery of the project, coordinate work flows and assist in the decision making processes needed to resolve dilemmas and issues on a day-to-day basis. This paper identifies some of the symptoms of scheduling failure and then addresses three topics; a discussion of the real purpose and usefulness of scheduling. the current ‘state of play’ in the development of scheduling and some emerging trends that may re-focus scheduling. [View Abstract]
  • Scheduling Complexity - This paper précis the work of the CIOB focused on the management of complex projects and offer practical suggestions for the improvement of time management within the Australian context, including the professionalisation of the scheduling discipline. [View Abstract]
  • Scheduling in the Age of Complexity - This paper suggests that a radically different approach is needed to make scheduling relevant and useful in the 21st Century.  Starting with the ideas derived from Complexity Theory, Complex Responsive Processes of Relating (CRPR) and the concept of the project team as a ‘Temporary Knowledge Organization (TKO) one can see the delivery of the project being crafted by thousands of individual decisions and actions taken by people who are ‘actors’ within the social network of the project team and its immediate surrounds.  The role of ‘project management’ is to motivate, coordinate and lead the team towards the common objective of a successful project outcome. The project scheduler has a key role in this complex environment provided the right attitudes, skills and scheduling techniques are used in the optimum way. [View Abstract]
  • Seeing the Road Ahead - the challenge of communicating schedule data - The successful delivery of projects requires a broad understanding of what is required to be achieved, by whom and when. However, one of the key challenges facing schedulers has been to convert the rich data contained in their schedules into useful information that the project team can actually use. This paper outlines the evolution of the graphical presentation of time related data from 1765 through to the current time. [View Abstract]
  • Should your schedulers be certified? - This paper focuses on initiatives to revitalise our industry by creating a career path for planners and schedulers as well as clearly identifying the benefits of certification for organisations that employ planners and schedulers. New initiatives by the CIOB and Planning Planet are designed to deliver a career framework for professional ‘Time Managers’, taking people from novice, to a practitioner skilled in the art of planning and scheduling. [View Abstract].  See also: The problem with CPM.    
  • Standardising Quality in Project Scheduling - The publication by PMI of its Practice Standard for Scheduling in May 2007 followed by the CIOB Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Time in Complex Projects go a long way towards defining ‘good scheduling practice’and providing tools that for the first time allows the unambiguous assessment of the technical competence of any schedule. The definition of planning and scheduling and the certification of schedulers has also been the subject of much attention. This paper provides an overview of the Practice Standard, The Guide and the emerging credential framework for schedulers. [View Abstract]

  • Time IS NOT Money - “Time is not money; with money you can put it on the table and you can see it, and if you leave it, it may even accumulate - whereas with time, you can’t see it or touch it. It expires at a regular and consistent rate whether you use it or not.”
      -  Read the interview 'Time is NOT money', a conversation with Keith Pickavance' for some background on Keith's assertion the 21st Century will be 'The Age of Time'. [View PDF] 
  • Time management -v- Contract administration This paper defines the standards by which project schedules should be prepared, quality controlled, updated, reviewed and revised in practice to effectively manage time. And then describes the standards of performance which should reasonably be required of a project scheduler. [View Abstract]

  • Why Critical Path Scheduling (CPM) is Wildly Optimistic  - CPM tends towards an optimistic representation of the project’s completion date. Used appropriately, this can be a performance motivator. However, prudent management also requires an accurate prediction of the completion date. This paper will describe how both processes can be used in combination for the effective management of time. [View Abstract]

5-STEPS, Five Steps To Ensure Project Success (Planning & Scheduling)

The ‘5 Steps To Ensure Project Success’ methodology is a proven process designed to focus the thinking of key Stakeholders onto the parameters required to achieve a successful project outcome. It uses the development of the schedule as a central plank in its approach to developing an effective project team and fostering positive stakeholder involvement.

The process is designed as a logical sequence of activities (and importantly, agreements) but recognises iterative passes through some of the key steps may be required to achieve agreement.

The five sequential steps are:

  • Organise the Project (Scope and Stakeholders)

  • Plan the Work Flow

  • Set Reasonable Objectives

  • Gain Commitment

  • Manage for Success

The 5–STEPS methodology requires each step to be completed, validated and "signed off" before moving onto the next.

5-STEPS is supportive of, and recognises the overall structure of the PMBOK, but focuses on activities in the key Planning and Controlling ‘process groups’ to develop a realistic schedule and then managing it through to a successful conclusion.

  • Useful external web-links

    Self-paced PMI-SP Training