If you are working in a team that needs to deliver a service or a product at a specific time in the future, you probably started wondering how to plan all the activities so that you meet the deadline.
Working in a team comes with benefits. Some people are more productive and efficient knowing that there is someone ready to support them with information or to help them. Even though every team member has his tasks, if the team is cohesive enough, team colleagues will help each other face project challenges.
And this is valid for team leaders too. They need to help their teams, plan the project timeline, and create a schedule that gives team members the time and resources necessary to accomplish their tasks. But when you are the team leader or project manager and you need to plan the project development accordingly to your resources, how do you know where to start? How do you know what needs to be included and if, in the end, your project timeline and schedule are right?
Being a leader comes with challenges, but it is a nice opportunity that helps you develop some skills and improve them. Those challenges, such as the one of creating the right schedule for your team, help you discover more tools, use and plan the use of resources more efficiently, and create project timelines that help team members accomplish their tasks.
When it is not done appropriately, it can have devastating effects on your team. Missing deadlines, not having the resources necessary to accomplish your tasks, productivity and motivation going lower and lower, and not having a clear plan can seriously harm the efficiency of the team and the delivery of the product.
But when planned right, project timelines and schedules can give the development team the overview they need. They will know what tasks are assigned to them and which is the deadline to finish them. The entire team will know details about their progress and will have the same perspective on the project. What’s more, a project timeline and schedule help you prioritize tasks, delegate others, and set team objectives that can be accomplished within a given period.
The process of creating project timelines and schedules right might seem challenging at the beginning and a lot of questions can go through your head. Where should you start creating them? Which are the details that need to be taken into consideration from the beginning? How do you exactly build a project timeline and schedule? Do you need specific tools or an Excel or Google Sheet is just enough? How do you set the time frame?
We will answer all these questions in the following lines, so let’s dive together in some project planning tips that will help you create the right project timeline and schedule.
- Define Your Goals
Every project begins with the final destination in mind. You know where you want to go and be, but you still have to work your way towards those goals. Clearly defining your goals helps you plan them accordingly, break them into smaller goals, and plan the entire activity of the team.
The process of finding and defining your goals might seem challenging, especially if your team is a newly established one, and the product or service you need to deliver is not clearly understood. This process needs to be done together with the team. This will help them understand better the project requirements and clarify unclear parts.
And to start the process of creating a project timeline right, you need to involve all the team in the activity of defining the team’s goals. All team members need to agree on the team’s goals because they will be the ones that will work towards achieving those goals. Everyone needs to be on the same page, to understand the final scope of the team and the product or service they need to build, say experts from assignment help.
This will keep away misunderstandings and your job to create project timelines and schedules right will be easier.
- Determine Your Collaborators
If you have defined your team’s goals, the next step is to determine your collaborators. This means that you should identify every person that needs to be included in the project schedule. Every person involved in the project will have a task, some of which will be more complex or more simplified.
For example, if your final goal is to deliver a top-notch eLearning app, some team members will write the code, others will test and review it, and others will just have to sign some papers that ensure your client that the app is developed according to his requirements.
Identifying your stakeholders is a key process in creating project timelines and schedules right, as some of your internal processes might depend on others. Knowing what you need to deliver, when, to whom and who will be part of the process will help you define a clear project timeline that takes into account all the activities that need to be done to achieve your goals.
- Identify the Tasks and Plan Their Order and Timeframe
At this stage of the process of creating a project timeline and schedule, you need to involve all team members. You have your final goal and the list of all the people involved in the process. You probably already know which their skills and responsibilities are, so the next step would be to identify the tasks and plan their order.
When you begin working at this project, you will become so involved in the process that you might overlook some details. And you might end up with a tight deadline and realizing that nobody did those things. Neither did they think about them. So, to be sure that the timeline planning is done right, meet with your team and identify all the tasks that need to be done to slowly progress towards the team’s goals.
Their order is also very important, as to develop some functionalities or develop some parts of the project, you depend on others to be done. Correctly identifying and planning tasks order is essential, as you ensure the workflow will be smooth and all details will be taken care of. Like this, you are sure that you will not miss anything and you will meet your project deadline.
There are a lot of online tools that help you plan a team’s activity right. Using them will ease this process and every team member will have access to it so that they will know how to manage their time and handle delays.
Gantt charts are visual representations, usually in the form of complex tables, that help you list all the stakeholders involved in the project, assign tasks, and plan their order. They are useful and key tools that project managers use to plan the team’s activity and follow their progress.
When planning the order of the tasks, it is useful to take into consideration and add buffer time. This is a prevention method that will help you and your team stay on track while unexpected delays appear. The timeframe of tasks is very important because some tasks depend on others to be completed. And you would not want to lose time while waiting for a specific task to be completed because you have not identified correctly the time needed.
Plan the tasks according to the milestones and be sure you rightly decide upon the time needed to complete the tasks by involving the team in this planning process.
- Assign Tasks to Team Members
After you have identified your goals, set milestones, and planned the order of tasks and their timeframe, you need to assign them to team members. This part is essential, as you need to pay great care to not overcrowding some team members and having others with no tasks at the same time.
When you assign tasks to team members, you need to take into consideration their skills and what they are good at. Check their workload so that to be sure that they do not have too many, either too few tasks. Keep in mind that team members need to be productive and efficient, and this depends on the office atmosphere, but also on task complexity and the skills needed to solve some issues.
If you notice that you have team members that do not have tasks, you can modify the time frame and solve some tasks earlier than planned. But this should be done only if your project goals and planning allow it and if you have the resources necessary. Otherwise, you can make the whole process harder and more difficult, and delays and conflicts might appear.
- Review the Project Timeline and Schedule
Now that you have finished with all the steps above, you should review the project timeline and schedule with all stakeholders. Thus being said, you need to consult the team members, the client, and any other stakeholder involved in this project. Getting feedback on project planning and schedule is important, as you might overlook some things in the process of creating it. It is a complex analysis you need to make and being sure that everything is planned there will make the work more relaxed and smoother.
You do not need to share all the details with your clients for example, as they might be more interested in the project milestones. Either way, be sure that everyone involved in the project gets and has access to the project timeline and schedule. And if you need to modify some dates or reassign some tasks, do it wisely.
And after all these, all you need is get work done within the timeframe allocated.
Creating project timelines and schedules right might seem like a daunting task. You need to consider and think about so many details that you might fear you will get lost in the process. But all you need is follow these easy steps to make sure you do not miss something.
Define your team’s goals and determine the collaborators involved in the project. Every team member will have a role and will come with a specific skill set, so make sure you correctly assign tasks for their experience level. Involving the team in the process of listing tasks and planning the timeframe is important, as everyone will become more aware of the project steps. Review the final schedule and timeline and start working.