Group Theory

Tips for Creating an Effective Project Schedule


  1. Determine the Project

Pretty much self-explanatory, the type of event or task you are scheduling determines how you will create the schedule. For example, if you are relocating a business into a new location, you will want a top-down breakdown of all parts in the move, including tasks scheduled in the old and new building. If it is a simple schedule for a project such as a paper, the plan will be less detailed, with merely fundamental concepts to keep in mind and the due dates of the initial topic decision, outline, rough draft, and final paper.

  1. Brainstorming Meetings

One of my favorite tools to use in any project is holding a brainstorming meeting. In these meetings, the free-flow of ideas can offer a rare insight on what steps need to be added, what risks that need to be considered, what dates and times seem reasonable for all, and who might want to lead each segment of the task on the schedule. Allowing your team members to participate in the early stages of a project enables them to adapt and perform significantly better throughout the entire mission.

  1. Avoid Setting Too Many Deadlines/Tasks

Whenever I create a schedule, I always end up with an enormous number of tasks and have to spend time breaking them down to an acceptable and less-stressful number. It is important to remember that setting numerous deadlines before the work is defined only makes the entire process more difficult; just schedule essential tasks that can be adequately described using a work breakdown structure.

  1. Dates Can Be Tricky

While setting dates is a project schedule’s bread and butter, avoid too many specific time constraints. More often than not, as the schedule begins, the project and the plan will both evolve into something entirely different; problems happen, changes are made, and focusing too much on dates can create unnecessary chaos for those who are relying on the schedule to turn a large number of challenging tasks into something more manageable.

  1. Communication is Vital

Before finalizing any schedule, ensure that you discuss each task and date with the whole team. Many jobs are dependent on other team members’ ability to finish a separate task.

  1. Accountability

Although I previously mentioned how dates could change as the schedule starts, it is critical to know who is responsible for what and maintain the enforcement that each task must be completed on time. If a team member does not believe they will meet a specific deadline, then he/she must inform the project leader of the problem so that the schedule can be edited; if this does not occur, then the failure to meet the deadline should have an adverse action towards that team member. Again, communication is vital.

  1. Check for Errors

Before, during, and after creating your project schedule, continuously check for errors. Some typical problems people run into are:

  • Not including public or team member’s holidays
  • Building continuous blocks of work without milestones
  • Dividing tasks between multiple people (this can be done, but ensure that there is a leader for that specific task)
  • Not adding contingency time for when a problem arises
  • Not adding times where all leaders can discuss how each task is going
  • Dates and times falling on a weekend or coinciding with a busy work day (for example, don’t let the day before a deadline fall on a day with a company-wide 3-hour HR meeting)
  1. Follow the Schedule, Be the Schedule

As the individual who created the plan, you need to know it by heart and use it entirely. Failure to take the program seriously can negatively impact the rest of your team members; if they see you miss one of your deadlines without you first acknowledging that a change must be made, they will most likely follow your lead. By using these suggestions, you should be well on your way to designing and creating an effective project schedule.

I hope this information helps you turn your seemingly endless amount of work into segmented and detailed individual tasks and milestones.

Pro Tip

Creating an outstanding project schedule, enforcing its deadlines, and completing the tasks on-time are the building blocks of any supervisory position. So, if you are looking for a promotion, here is a method to show you deserve it.

Categories: Group Theory

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  1. Pingback: IT Move Schedule

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