Project management is a skill you need to develop over your career as a small business owner. In this article, Anica Oaks shares four useful scheduling tips to make the project run smoother and meet all milestones.
Creating a sound schedule before the project even kicks off will help to limit cost overrun, change requests, and shortages of resources. The project schedule must be aggregated and compressed in order to stay on budget and on time. Here are four scheduling tips that can help future projects throughout the process.
1. Schedule for Deliverables
Most people intuitively plan around the various tasks involved, but that approach can lead to problems. A scheduler cannot usually work changes into the project if the team is focused entirely on a particular task. Schedulers should build their project to produce defined deliverables that are verifiable and must meet predetermined standards before being considered complete.
In other words, try to schedule your deliverable projects to be completed by preset dates, which are when you must be able to deliver your work, whether that be an intangible deliverable (a particular outcome such as reduction of spending), or a tangible deliverable (a concrete object or product). You can also create milestones for when your teams must complete certain stages of the project so you can track your progress along the way.
2. Available Team Members
Human as well as material resources need to be planned throughout the life of the project. Will there be adequate staffing, or will there be holes where a smaller team is obliged to carry the burden? Especially where budgets or timelines are tight, it is important to review schedules and plan around vacation time, or select alternate workers where situations like childbirth or planned surgeries could leave you short-handed.
3. Develop the Skills
Those leading vital projects must have the background for managing people, materials, and complex schedules all at the same time. There are online courses in project management that teach the requisite understanding at various levels of business function and the inherent challenges in delivering results on schedule.
A master’s in project management can go a long way to preparing natural leaders for a long and rewarding career in many aspects of management. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, IT project managers could expect to make an average of “$131,000 per year in 2015” .
4. Include Milestones
Establish regular milestones that note completion of certain stages in the process and check progress against them as you go. Milestones are a clearer indication of what kind of progress you’re making, so you don’t find out six months into the project that you overlooked deliverables somewhere along the way. Noting the timeline between regular milestones will help you better anticipate in real terms the time it will take to finish a project or how to put you back on schedule if you lag behind.
Even when you have the other elements in place, the schedule is your roadmap that you must return to even if plans go astray. Careful, but often complex scheduling is one of several essential skills to meeting standards and deadlines.
About the author: Anica is a professional content and copywriter from San Francisco, California. You can connect with Anica here.