A target schedule is a project management tool that is used as a supplement to the approved baseline schedule. It takes into account the fact that variations in resource availability and other circumstances may sometimes affect the completion timeline of various activities. The baseline specifies the planned start and finish dates and the duration of each activity based on information gleaned from initial schedule network analysis. Target dates typically focus on the completion of individual tasks and may deviate from the baseline dates as needed to provide additional flexibility in project management. However, the original baseline data is still retained for historical reference regardless of any changes that occur during the lifecycle of the project.
In order to develop and use a target schedule effectively, it is necessary to have a performance management strategy in place. This includes measuring the variances between the target start/finish dates and how quickly the project work is actually advancing. The targets can be adjusted to take early and late start or finish dates into account based on how interrelated schedule activities are progressing. This is helpful in determining best and worst case scenarios and the impact they have on the overall schedule.
The same types of project management graphs used for baseline schedule reporting may be created for a target schedule as well. A hammock activity graph that shows the overlap of various activities over the same time period is particularly useful for this purpose. It offers a visual overview of the network of activities that require resources during the same period. If a particular resource is temporarily limited, target dates for non-critical activities may be extended for later completion to prevent delays in more critical schedule components. A hammock style graph may also highlight areas where resources are being underutilized – permitting some targets to be achieved ahead of schedule.
This term is defined in the 3rd edition of the PMBOK, but not in the 4th.