Hybrid Scheduling: Naming the Elephant

Mark Romanelli is a full-time lecturer in the Sports, Culture and Events Management program at the University of Applied Science Kufstein Tirol (FH Kufstien Tirol) in Kufstein, Austria. His curriculum includes courses in Project Management and Strategic Project Development. He is a member of the Project Management Institute and a Certified Associate in Project Management.

Project scheduling has long been formally defined in binary terms. Projects can be forward scheduled or backward scheduled. Project managers know that the reality often lies someplace in between—and the number of projects occupying that space is growing. It’s time to recognize and name the third form of project scheduling that combines the two: hybrid scheduling.

Forward scheduling is the scheduling technique used when a project has a fixed start date. All of the project activities are scheduled chronologically forward from that date. The project end comes when all of the project activities have been completed.

An example of this type of scheduling is a construction project with a fixed start date. The project manager schedules all of the building tasks and activities forward from the start date. In forward scheduling, it’s the start date that drives the project schedule. Forward scheduling is also the default method of scheduling for most project management and scheduling software, including Microsoft Project.

Reverse, or backward, scheduling works in the opposite direction. A project has a fixed end date and activities are scheduled chronologically backward from that date, with the objective of scheduling all tasks and elements in a way that delivers everything by the predetermined completion date.

An example of a reverse-scheduled project is a …

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'Human existence must be a kind of error. It may be said of it: "It is bad today and every day it will get worse, until the worst of all happens."'

- Arthur Schopenhauer

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