Planning or Scheduling?

Planning or Scheduling? There is a subtle difference between ‘Planning’ and ‘Scheduling’, and unfortunately we often use the words interchangeably, or use ‘Planning’ where we actually mean ‘Scheduling’.

However, by considering the Why, What, How, Who, Where, and When of project management we can actually define what we mean by planning and scheduling. As you can see from the table below, planning is at a  higher level than scheduling, which relates to task level activities.

Planning and Scheduling Compared

Planning Scheduling
Why This involves understanding the business case for the project and the business benefits that it will bring us
What An overall aim for the project in one or two sentences A description of the project at task level
How  The methods to be used in general to achieve the aim of the project, including how it will be communicated, and how risks will be managed
Who The resources that will be used in general for the project, internal, contractors, departments etc. including an analysis of these stakeholders Who, by name, is assigned to each of the tasks, and ensuring that these resources are neither over, nor under-worked
Where  The general location of activities on the project
When In overall terms such as Q1, 2017 When each task is being started and completed by actual date














Whilst the output of a schedule may look like a Gantt chart with resource names, a project plan (‘Planning’) consists of far more, including the project purpose, business case, contract strategy, risk management, communication management, stakeholder management etc.

Planning should refer to the overall project management process, leaving Scheduling for specific resource assignments against dates.

If you’ve enjoyed this blog post, then please share it using the icons below. Thank you!

Posted On: 19th July 2016

Join the conversation