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
|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. inculding 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.
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