Accurate scheduling is the key success factor in project management, but too many organizations take it for granted and fail to achieve the desired results.
A report revealed that less than a third of all projects were successfully completed on time and on budget over the past year. At the same time, it turns out that only 23% of organizations use standardized project management practices across the entire organization.
Companies that fail to create sustainable project timelines will almost always end up losing time and money, so you definitely need to think about improving this aspect of your work. But how exactly do you design project timelines and schedules right?
We can give you a lot of useful tips, so keep reading to learn more about it!
Things to Know Before You Begin
Every project timeline should be based on a set of highly specific parameters, but there are a few other details to think about before you start planning the schedule.
The first thing is to purchase a reliable project management platform for your organization. It has to be a customizable tool that suits the needs and skills of your team members. Luckily enough, you can find many interesting solutions these days, including platforms such as Trello, Zoho Projects, Teamwork Projects, or Basecamp.
Jake Gardner, a project manager at the Essay writing service UK, adds that the second important detail is to think about every stakeholder involved in the project: “That way, you can prepare all tasks on time and probably even predict possible shortcomings and obstacles.”
Thirdly, it is critical to gather a team of skilled professionals who have enough knowledge and experience to implement the project. If you cannot rely on your coworkers, even the most accurate project schedule will not help you to get things done as expected.
10 Steps to Make the Best Project Schedule
We tried and experimented with dozens of project scheduling tricks and learned that 10 techniques apply to almost every organization out there. This is exactly why we are going to focus on these project timeline only, so let’s dive straight into the topic:
- Determine project objectives
Business objectives are by far the most important aspect of project scheduling. After all, if you don’t know exactly where you are going, how can you end up getting there? In such circumstances, it is necessary to determine the following:
- All project deliverables, including even the smallest achievements
- Key performance indicators
- Quantifiable results based on your project objectives
If you define your objectives clearly, it will be much easier to assess the time needed for project completion.
- Create a work breakdown structure
A work breakdown structure (WBS) is a deliverable-oriented breakdown of a project into smaller components. Since you already know the goal of the project, you can easily divide the process into minor units.
For example, let’s say you are writing professional essay papers. In this case, you know that a typical essay consists of the introduction, a body part, and a conclusion. You can adjust the structure based on the nature of your topic, but this is how you create the simplest WBS.
- Make to-do lists for each task
Now is the time to make a unique to-do list for each segment of the project in particular. The idea is to create a step-by-step guide on how to finish every stage of every task. |
Going back to our essay writing example, you can say the main part of it – the body – must have a clear research question, a brief history of popular findings in the field, your analysis, and the answer to the key thesis.
Larger projects are seldom as simple as that, but this is essentially how you should treat to-do lists.
- Define project dependencies
If you are not familiar with the concept of project dependencies, you should definitely learn about the phenomenon because it has the potential to slow down every project. How come?
The reason is simple – dependencies are certain aspects of work that you cannot begin with in case you haven’t completed some other task before that.
For instance, members of the online assignment help agency can hardly write a logical conclusion without the instruction and the body part. Some tasks depend on others and you have to take it into account while planning the project timeline.
- Evaluate the time needed for each task
Now that you have a clear overview of all activities and deliverables, you are free to evaluate individual tasks and predict the time needed for the completion of each unit.
We suggest adding some 5% to tasks that require a lot of work and coordination among team members because it often makes the timeline more accurate and realistic. Of course, you can forget this tip if you are in a rush and want everything to be done as soon as possible.
- Reconsider your resources
Do you have enough resources to complete the project in a timely manner? We encourage you to evaluate your resources once again because it has a profound effect on project scheduling. Here’s what you need to be aware of:
- Human resources: Can you count all team members without interruptions?
- Outsourcing: Choose your external partners carefully in case you need to outsource certain elements of the work.
- Budgeting: Do you have enough money to execute all activities on time?
- Miscellanea: Think about any other resource that can impact the execution.
- Determine project milestones
Project milestones represent major segments of your plan and they can help you to keep an eye on the pace of work from the very beginning. Once the milestone is completed, there is no need to return to it and change anything, which is exactly what makes the whole concept so important timeline-wise.
- Create the timeline
You’ve done a lot of planning by now, so it is finally time to put things together and organize the timeline of your project. All tasks should follow a logical line of work and flow naturally into one another.
When you connect all these dots, you can see the whole timeline and figure out how long it takes to execute the project from start to finish. Of course, you should review the timeline and make corrections if you notice something strange that doesn’t fit your demands or expectations.
- Share it with the team
Although you are in charge of project scheduling, you cannot keep it to yourself and leave out other members of the team. On the contrary, you should share the timeline with coworkers and explain what needs to be done within this timeframe. You can also discuss the timeline together to see if there is room for improvement.
- Analyze and adjust the schedule on the go
Project timelines should be accurate, but you could still be facing unpredicted events, problems, and delays. In this case, it is important to analyze and adjust the schedule on the go because it enables simpler coordination of your team.
The Bottom Line
If you want to complete a project on time, you have to prepare for it and design a sustainable schedule of activities. Although it takes a lot of planning and strategic thinking, project timelines always pay off because they reduce costs and the total time spent working.
The tips we explained above will help you set your project timelines right and improve the overall efficiency of your team. Do you think you can improve our guidelines with additional suggestions? Let us know in the comments!