Published on Thursday, May 31, 2018
Time’s a currency we often forget to count. If you think about it, it pays dividends, much like money
does. So to speak, a project’s success is only absolute when it is well within predetermined
deadlines, in addition to being profitable. The path to meet timelines, then, is directly associated with
making the smaller chunks and tasks of the project, deadline compliant. After all, the sum of the
parts is at times, greater than the whole!
The project schedule as it is called is the act of juggling resources such that they match the time and
cost requirements. This schedule though suffers from being at the epicentre of the project’s mayhem,
with everyone making edits, different opinions reflecting in different ways and the confusion that
follows. All that can end though, when transparency, effective skill matches, scientific task cebreakdown and tracking take place.
Let’s find out more with the following points.
Once you've landed the perfect project, planning the course it takes could be a fulfilling or frightening
ride, all based on the route you take. In this regard, the work breakdown structure or WBS as it is
popularly called is one of the most widely accepted formats of breaking down complex projects and
their activities into smaller, digestible units. It is a user-friendly methodology beneficial for building
real, tangible action plans for projects.
Essentially, a project gets broken down into tasks, further into subtasks, and then into smaller
activities. This way, ownership, allocation and accountability all get a starting point.
The WBS proves to be a great solution because:
Sequentially, you can dice the mountain that your project is, into smaller, seemingly possible chunks
and then decide its owners and outcomes in the next few steps.
Based on the WBS, the next step is then to spread out the tasks and make owners for the most
important items. This includes understanding task dependencies, the logical course they must take
and the effort hours that they each require.
For example, with a website development project, while the UX Design side of things can be
decided through the WBS itself, the smaller milestones in terms of the pages to be designed or the
physical attributes of the page can be tackled in this step. This helps plan your scheduled with
centralized structure and prioritize tasks systematically. In addition, if your team subscribes to
the agile culture, you can throw open the tasklist with the freedom to have individual owners.
However, if you happen to have a traditional hierarchy, you can then opt to entrust respective team
leaders with the WBS breakdown and expectperiodic updates, thereafter.
The key point to be aware of is how WBS and milestone stage differ from each other. While the
former is also the birthplace of the project’s strategic goals, the latter is a purely operational one.
The milestone stage lets everyone understand what they need to do and how.
The next step addresses skill and task requirement matches. The task breakdown has to be
matched with the bookings that you need to complete the project, in accordance with the chosen
timeline. This is the crux of the project scheduling process. This process reaches its optimal best
when you have a skill inventory that is constantly updated and reflects the current requirements you
It is particularly useful to have a visually communicative schedule such as a Gantt Chart. Such a
schedule helps understand information and maintain transparency all at once. The project schedule,
in addition, should let you accommodate all activities that can keep an employee’s schedule
occupied. This includes projects, non-project activities, vacation and others. This way, the schedule
will not lead to confusions or worse, a project timeline variance. In short, when done right, your
project schedule will be the only version of the truth you have for resource and task timelines. And to
make things easier, project managers are beginning to invest in tools that plug in all these
components at one go.
Finally, as you begin to close the planning stage, you’ll have the execution and tracking phase taking
over. This step is crucial to not only access the success of your plan but also to accommodate the
unforeseen delays and roadblocks that execution is likely to encounter. This way, you begin to get
closer to perfecting your time estimates.
In order to track time estimates, you’ll need to plugin a robust time sheet that functions hand in hand
with the schedule. With the access to edit and fill out this timesheet, users can go ahead and
checklist task dependencies, one after the other. This way, there is both the proof of task completion
as well as a detailed comparison of how the planning phase and execution phase differ. Such
metrics help sharpen your planning process by giving you an absolute picture of your project
What’s been your most successful mantra for getting accurate project schedules?
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