Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Vital Steps to Keeping Your Project on Schedule

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When it comes to problems that plague projects, PMs almost universally point to time being their biggest enemy. Specifically, project failure is often tied to going over schedule, falling behind on task and milestone completion. That doesn’t have to be your fate, though. Here are some vital steps to keep your project on schedule.

Know Your Tasks
The breakdown of your work structure is a vital consideration for staying on track throughout your project. It’s important that you break down tasks and milestones into a graphic representation (in chronological order) so that you can see what needs to be completed and when. Not only this, but breaking down your work structure in this way will show you how each individual element of the project relates to others, and how the completion of later elements hinges on the completion of earlier ones.
What Depends on What?
As mentioned, each task and milestone in your project will build on previous ones. Without successful completion of specific tasks, you cannot complete dependent ones. You must ensure that you know what depends on what during the course of your project. Obviously, you cannot complete all tasks at the same time, and knowing your dependencies will help you determine task priority. There are four types of dependency:

  • Start to finish
  • Finish to start
  • Finish to finish
  • Start to start

Know the Critical Path
While Agile has become very popular today in terms of project management methods, the critical path method is still the most frequently used. It also ties in nicely with Agile, particularly when the latter is used for smaller projects within a larger framework. Know your critical path (the one, true path that will lead from project inception to completion with the desired outcome). Specific tasks make up this critical path, and it’s essential that you focus on these, rather than peripheral tasks.
Effective Planning Is Key
All project managers should know the value and necessity of accurate planning before the launch of a project. It’s vital that you plan effectively. In order for this to happen, you need to involve your stakeholders and management (essentially, anyone who has a stake in the project’s outcome, whether they’re part of your company, part of the client company or involved in some other way). Your stakeholders must also be clear in their expectations as far as deliverables, value, budget, time and scope are concerned. Without adequate planning during the project inception stage, there’s no way possible to stay on target in terms of schedule. If you do not receive the support you require from your managers and stakeholders during this period, do not proceed with the project until the situation has been rectified.
Staying on schedule requires that you have a clearly delineated path to follow moving forward and that you are proactive about ensuring tasks are completed in their specified order of importance. With these tips and steps, you can ensure that your project is finished on time.

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