Process 4: Create the Master Schedule


In this process, the project team uses the master project plan and the detailed schedules to create the master schedule

Figure 6. Create the master schedule

Activities: Create the Master Schedule

The master schedule includes all of the detailed project schedules, including the release date for the solution. Like the master project plan, the master schedule combines and integrates all the schedules from each team lead (bottom-up estimating). The team determines the release date after creating drafts of the functional specification and master project plan. Often, the team will modify parts of the functional specification and master project plan to meet a required release date. A fixed release date causes the team to prioritize features and plan adequately.

Table 7. Activities and Considerations for Creating the Master Schedule



Create the master schedule

Key questions:

  • Does the organization have a standard defined for scheduling?
  • How does the chosen management philosophy impact scheduling?


  • Master project plan
  • Detailed schedules


  • Master schedule

Best practices:

  • Establish fixed schedules. Internal time limits (time-boxing) keeps the project team focused on prioritizing features and activities.
  • Use bottom-up scheduling. Estimates for IT projects should be made by those who will do the work. Bottom-up estimating provides better accuracy, accountability, and team empowerment. The result is a schedule that is fully supported by the entire project team.
  • Prioritize by using risk-driven scheduling. Risk assessment by the team identifies which features are riskiest. Problems requiring major changes to the architecture can be handled earlier in the project, thereby minimizing the impact to schedule and budget.
  • Add buffer time to project schedules to permit the team to accommodate unexpected problems and changes. The amount of buffer to apply depends on the amount of risk. By assessing risks early in the project, the likeliest risks can be evaluated for their impact on the schedule and compensated for by adding buffer time to the project schedule.

This accelerator is part of a larger series of tools and guidance from Solution Accelerators.


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