Project Schedule, Master Schedule, and Milestone Schedule
Project Schedule, Master Schedule, and Milestone Schedule

Project Schedule, Master Schedule, and Milestone Schedule: What Are The Differences?


Be part of our exclusive Construction Professional list and get exclusive discounts and monthly executive summary

* indicates required
( ) - (###) ###-####
Subscription to Newsletter


* indicates required
Subscription to Newsletter *
* indicates required
Subscription to Newletter *

It is evident that a construction project cannot commence without a proper work schedule in place since scheduling establishes a system to manage construction projects and their activities, deliverables, resources, milestones, and goals in a timeline.

Construction teams build a work schedule in order to sequence what work will be completed in specific phases or periods in a project. For that purpose, various types of schedules serve various purposes.

In project management, project schedule, master schedule, and milestone schedule are three common types of schedules implemented to coordinate and track different components of a construction project. Even though every kind of schedule plays a critical role in finishing a project on time and budget, they also have differences that contractors must be aware of.

Why Are Construction Schedules Important?


Before we jump into the different versions of a construction schedule, it’s critical to understand why you should create one first. Benefits include:

  • Better Project Stability

A well-planned construction project is unlikely to encounter unexpected events down the road. There is better control over the project outcome. Additionally, all the low-level details reduce last-minute changes.

  • Greater Quality Control

Client satisfaction and quality management improve with a well-planned project. It guarantees that the correct construction resources are available in the right quantity throughout.

  • Better Resource Planning 

Early scheduling helps plan resources like labor, equipment, materials, and tools. 

  • Easier Task Management

Everyone involved in the project can communicate to better plan their activities. This includes architects, general contractors, subcontractors, laborers, and vendors.

1. Schedule

A schedule refers to the planned dates for tasks management and for meeting the deliverables. It is a standard communication tool that outlines what work needs to be done and when it should be done. Schedules are typically established at the beginning of a construction project and regularly updated and reported to the stakeholder.

2. Milestone

Milestones often refer to the essential tasks or events in a construction project. According to the Project Management Institute, a milestone is “a significant event in the project which is usually the completion of a major deliverable.” Milestones have a fixed timeline without duration.

Below are some examples of milestones in a construction project:

  • Kick-Off Meeting
  • Sign of Contract Between Stakeholders
  • Project Start and End Date
  • Start and Completion of Each Phase
  • Site Turnover or Handover

3. Work Breakdown Structure 

The purpose of WBS is to create a framework for the proper scheduling of a project. The development of the WBS is one of the most critical steps in project scheduling. 

4. Work Packages

Generally, work packages are the lowest level of detail within the WBS. Activities are listed and grouped under the work packages category.

5. Activities

Activities are actions that have a determined start date, duration, and end date. The logical ties between these activities are called relationships- they establish which activity will start or finish first in a particular type of logic.

6. Resources

Resources consist of the materials, tools, machinery, equipment, and labor required to perform project activities. Once their costs are estimated, they are assigned to the activities.

What is Project Scheduling?


A Project Schedule represents the planned dates for performing tasks and activities and the planned dates for meeting the project milestones.

The project schedule shows what work needs to be done paired up with the assigned resources in order to perform the tasks in a specific time period. Planning, Procurement, Engineering, and Construction turnover parts are detailed in Project Schedules. The project schedule should be regularly updated in order to monitor the project’s performance.

An executable construction schedule should be created by following the steps given below;

• Creating a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

  • Determining work packages and major project deliverables
  • Building a the tasks and activities list
  • • Assigning relationships and sequencing to the tasks
  • Assigning resources and dependencies
  • Analyzing the critical path on the whole timeline of the project

What Is A Master Schedule?


In managing construction, a project manager’s primary responsibility is to finish the project within the original budget and timeline and meet the client’s requirements. Therefore, properly scheduling the resources and activities efficiently plays a crucial role in any construction project’s success. The master schedule is one of the most effective and proven tools that help the project manager perform his business efficiently.

Master Schedule is a summary-level schedule that includes the major project deliverables, key project milestones, work breakdown structure components that we discussed in the definition above.

The Master Schedule depends on the adequate creation of the master project plan and the detailed work schedules to determine the time each milestone will be completed accurately and when each deliverable will be produced. 

The Master Project Plan


Creating an accurate and reliable Master Schedule cannot start until a master project plan is in place. The project master plan is typically intended for the project team and involves the following:

  • Project scope and work breakdown
  • Project organization, training requirements, and resources
  • Technical details of every project activity. This is included in the work breakdown structure (WBS), vital for formulating the detailed work schedules required in the project master schedule.

Once the master plan for the project is in place, it forms one of the two fundamental bases for creating the master schedule.

The Detailed Work Schedules


Building a master project schedule is a process that is formulated from the bottom up. It means that the work schedules from each team member must be defined before they can be integrated into the master schedule. Additionally, it means that those assigned to the work should be involved in determining the schedule for each task. This enhances the accuracy of the master schedule overall, but it helps to ensure the support of every team member is always present from the planning to the execution phase.

After the master project plan and detailed work schedule are completed, the master schedule for a construction project starts to take shape. Its final form should consist of a listing of all activities at every level, together with the interrelationships of activities and all of the milestones and deliverables of the project.

What Is An Integrated Master Schedule?


An Integrated Master Schedule (IMS) is a detailed schedule that integrates every sub-schedules from a program. It can also contain the key milestones of the sub-projects. Incorporating an Integrated Master Schedule provides many benefits to a company forming a common language among the project stakeholders, vendors, and suppliers. It can also include the project data to be used for the Earned Value Management (EVM).

Like the other schedules, The Integrated Master Schedule is a collaboration tool that can be applied for quantitative performance reports. Stakeholders at all levels can have access to viewing the reports and information that the IMS provides.

Lastly, the Integrated Master schedule is a scheduling management tool often derived from the sub-schedules. In IMS, you can track the performance of sub-schedules at the WBS level.

What Is A Milestone Schedule?


As the name implies, A Milestone Schedule is a summary level schedule that identifies the significant milestones of a construction project.

Milestone Planning highlights milestones more instead of activities. Major deliverables, contractual obligations, the company’s strategic goals, and other significant events are demonstrated in milestone schedules.

This type of schedule is one of the most essential schedules that must be constantly updated and referred throughout the project life cycle. In a nutshell, a milestone schedule is a summary level type that helps the project team review and tracks all the major milestones that may occur during the execution of the project.

Comparing a milestone schedule to a master schedule- a milestone schedule includes significant project milestones. In contrast, a master schedule is a summary-level schedule that provides for milestones, major deliverables, and work breakdown schedule components. The detail level of a master schedule is significantly higher than that of a milestone schedule.

Key Takeaway

In order to keep on top of the different components of a construction project, project teams establish a number of various schedules in different detail levels. Milestone Schedules and Master Schedules are some of the summary-level schedules prepared for early collaboration among stakeholders. These schedules are implemented in projects to demonstrate the primary strategy and the goals for successful project completion. Lastly, a Project Schedule is a detailed schedule prepared to show the detailed tasks and activities required to finish the project that must be updated regularly to monitor the overall project’s performance.

Are you using work schedules in your project? Which construction scheduling software are you integrating into your company while developing a schedule? You may start with Pro Crew Schedule to help you with your crew management, tracking timelines, assigning tasks, monitoring daily operations- all in one place. Whether you are using the Project Schedule, Master Schedule, or Milestone Schedule in your construction projects- we got you covered.

Start with your 30-days free trial today.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top