Keeping a project on time and on budget is a fine art in project management. It can be one of the trickiest tasks and it is the most important in order to keep clients and shareholders happy. Setting a timeline for your project means getting organized and getting serious about what lies ahead. Compare our checklist for setting a timeline with your own and see if you’re already practicing what we’re preaching or if we can help you add new steps to your timeline process:
Step One: Prepare for the basics. When you are initially given a project, sit down with your team and review what resources it will need. Determine which ones are expendable and which are worth spending time and money on. Preparing a rough draft of the basic necessities needed is a great way to try to stay on budget.
Step Two: Record the milestones. Recognizing important phases and documenting when they should be completed throughout your project is important for guiding everyone to stay on track. Once the milestone has been achieved, don’t hesitate to celebrate it! Although some team members will have more significant tasks than others, everyone will appreciate taking a deep breath and acknowledging what has already been completed before moving forward.
Step Three: Anticipate disaster. Always, always plan for hiccups along the way. Rarely do things in life play out exactly as planned. Soften the blow of setbacks by allowing for extra time during each phase from the beginning. Allotting extra time for each phase will create a cushion for you in case disaster strikes. If not, then you may be on target to finish the project or certain phases ahead of schedule which makes everyone happy.
Step Four: Construct the timeline backwards. You will most likely know from the start when the final product is due and if you’ve recorded your milestones and you know what resources are most important now is when you should start creating the timeline. Starting with the final due date and filling in with your milestones is a great way to make sure tasks throughout your timeline are distributed evenly and realistically.
Step Five: Rally the people. Communicate the timeline to your team and make sure everyone is in agreement with the details. When everyone is clear on exactly what resources will be needed, how much time it could take, and the deadlines for their individual roles, you can feel secure in knowing that you have created a stable foundation.
Once you’ve created your timeline what should you do to motivate your team? Read more here!