A new work project could be an opportunity for your team to collaborate, communicate, and evolve. In the end, the main question is, what is the team trying to achieve in the long run? Setting goals and objectives might be the first step towards a more organized work environment. If you haven’t been able to create reliable project timelines, it means that you haven’t been able to coordinate your team’s activities. Without the latter, progress is impossible, which is why you should focus on how to improve your organizational skills, no matter your position on the team. Project manager or not, you should know how to create dependable schedules to ensure the advancement of your team.
Today, we will discuss some of the best tactics through which one can create project timelines and set fair schedules. Here is a short guideline on how to do it – and succeed.
Set your goals, frameworks, and dependencies
The first thing you must do is make a plan, so setting goals is the very first step. Don’t forget to find a purpose for your goals and envision the deadline by which the project will be finished. It’s essential to think of the milestones before writing them down to have an accurate estimation of what needs to be accomplished. You might find this list of question handy:
- What are your goals for this project? WHY are these the goals for your project? What benefits will your goals bring? Are there any internal/external goals that should be mentioned?
- Who are the stakeholders of this project? Who’s the part of your internal team and who takes the external role? What is the role of each individual within the team and why?
- What is your project’s timeframe? Does it leave enough time for revision?
- What are the key milestones that must be mentioned?
Here’s a brief example. Let’s say you are responsible for organizing this year’s Christmas party at work. To keep you and your team organized, here’s what you must list out.
- What are your goals for this project? External/internal goals?
The internal goal is to plan a highly effective Christmas party and spend under $10,000. The external goal is to achieve a 60% RSVP rate and a 90% attendance rate. Why are these your goals? Because they are effective at measuring and tracking results and outcomes.
- Who are the stakeholders?
The internal stakeholders are the planning committee members and the marketing team. The external stakeholders are the attendees and vendors.
- What is your project’s timeframe?
Planning for the project starts October 15th and the event is scheduled for December 15th.
Set up a registration page, secure the venue, contact vendors.
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Plan every step to complete the project
Having a successful project timeline is easy once you know the steps that follow. List out any tasks and assignments that you and your team must finish or make a proofreading before the end of the project and set the due dates. Also, constantly check your budget to see if you’re on track. In our example, your steps could look something like this:
▪ Write down the Christmas party event plan
▪ Decide on the budget
▪ Confirm the event venue
▪ Select the vendors
▪ Choose a party theme
▪ Design, craft, paint, decorate, create
▪ Set up a registration webpage
▪ Send all the invites
▪ Advertise my event
▪ Order anything else we might need
▪ Test audio & video
▪ Finish the necessary presentations, if any
▪ Prepare the collateral
▪ Check the to-do list once again and revise, if necessary
Then take each step that must be completed and write down sub-notes on it. For example, for “Advertise my event,” some sub-notes could be, “Specify needs to the Marketing team,” “Choose the platforms on which we advertise,” “Finalize the budget for marketing,” “Compare RSVPs across platforms,” etc. Make sure you make your plan as clear as possible – this will help you not miss out on anything.
Estimate the amount of time it would take to complete each step
Once you know what to do each step of the way, it’s time to think about…. well, time. Allocating a certain amount of time to finishing each segment of the project is crucial, as it will keep your team productive. Without deadlines, people can slack off, and that is never useful for anybody. Once you know how much time each step of the project will take, you can divide your time between tasks more accurately.
Continuing with our Christmas party example, take “Advertise my event” as an example once again. We will be taking each sub-note and estimate the amount of time it would take us to complete it.
Advertise my event (4 weeks):
- Finalize the budget (1 week)
- Specify needs to the marketing team (1-3 days)
- Choose the platform on which we advertise (3-4 days)
- Compare RSVPs across platforms (1 week)
- Focus on one platform (1 week)
List out the dependencies
Some milestones are dependent on others to be completed, so it’s important that you know your dependencies. For example, you cannot specify your needs to the marketing team until you haven’t finalized the budget. This is why having a timeline is crucial when implementing a project. This is also the time you must choose who is responsible for what to avoid future delays. Make sure your expectations are clear and your team is on board 100% of the time.
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Visualize your timeline
The next step is drawing your timeline to visualize the project. This is one of the most practical steps because it will help you track progress and outcomes. While Excel or PowerPoint can be useful, there are other tools that you could look at.
Today, you can find project management tools literally everywhere! And the coolest thing is that they are way more effective than Microsoft when it comes to project management. These platforms usually come with project templates designed for each type of event you could think of, so this is another effective feature. They can include product marketing launch templates, event planning templates, or general project templates. All you have to do is enter the data that you already have and voila! Your timeline can now be visualized.
Share your timeline with the stakeholders
At the beginning of this article, we briefly talked about stakeholders. Now that you’ve built your timeline, it’s time to share it with everyone involved. Having a clear plan, setting clear goals, and considering every step of the way shows strong organizational skills, so your stakeholders will be more than happy to see your accomplishments. Also, the clearer the milestones, the less they’ll contact you throughout the process to ask for advice. That’s because they’ll know exactly what they must do because your timeline will leave no room for confusion.
Manage and adapt schedules after the project’s timeline
If you ever worked on a project, you know that they don’t always go as planned. Therefore, being able to adapt to changing circumstances is a must. Having a clear timeline will allow you to do just that. By using a project management tool, you can change plans, deadlines, and tasks in no time, without affecting the outcome of your project. You can also adjust the schedules and adapt them according to your new plan without disrupting the workflow. Most project management tools will have this option, so make sure you work with it as you might need.
Creating project timelines and schedules will enable your team to work efficiently and communicate better. You don’t have to worry about organizing your team’s tasks anymore; visualizing the timeline you are creating will help everybody involved stay on the right track to success.
Author’s bio for the article:
Tiffany Harper is an experienced freelance writer and editor from New York, USA. Now she works as a blog consultant with the term paper help in the technology area. Please do not hesitate to contact her on Twitter.