If you could work as a team of one, you wouldn’t need to coordinate other people’s efforts and phase deadlines; instead you could plan, control, and achieve the entire task on your own. In fact, that’s how singular functions are executed.
When you are working with a team, however, you need to plan your schedule with an awareness of the networking requirements of that team. For example, your team members may agree to the schedule you devise and proceed with phase 1. But it takes only one delay to throw the entire schedule off, and without your continual supervision, that delay may very well take place
A small delay within a phase would not be a big problem if it could be isolated. But that delay is likely to affect all of the remaining phases as well as the ability of the rest of the team to succeed. So remember these points concerning delays:
Every delay affects scheduling for the remainder of the project
Some projects start out with chronic delays. If you don’t begin phase 1 on the scheduled date, you will probably encounter problems all the way through. Be sure to schedule realistically; then follow it carefully. Your ability to keep the project on schedule is the real test of your project management skills.
To meet your deadline, the delay will have to be absorbed in a later phase
It’s always desirable to build a little insurance into your schedule by allowing more time than you’ll really need to complete the project. However, when a deadline is imposed, you don’t always have that luxury. Chances are, you will have a difficult enough time meeting the imposed deadline, and there will be little, if any, opportunity to let a phase deadline slide. If the delays occur in an early phase, your team will have to execute later phases in a shorter amount of time than you planned.
It’s usually desirable to meet the final project deadline
It’s desirable always to meet the final project deadline, unless that means that the outcome will be incomplete, inaccurate, or short of the desired result. To make up for a delay, you may need to work your team at a faster pace, look for shortcuts in the original plan, or put in more hours than you originally planned. Thus, the delay could translate into a budget overrun on your project. Your goal should be to meet the deadline you have promised, unless that means having to cut quality corners.
Your project should end with an accurate and high-quality report, implemented procedures, or other results - even if that means you have to ask for an extension.
Staying on schedule and meeting the deadline is the project manager’s job
If you miss your deadline, you may be asked for an explanation. If that occurs, remember that delays are your responsibility, regardless of the cause. Project managers are expected to monitor progress, anticipate problems before they create delays, and take action to prevent missing the final deadline.
Your initial schedule can be expressed on a chart, which is a visual expression of the project’s goal – like your project plan or schedule. Using project scheduling tools such as Seavus Project Planner and ScheduleReader tools can help keep you and your project team on the same page. Reducing the project schedule to visual form improves your team’s understanding of how the project will progress and gives you the monitoring tool you need. The chart should report both the planned and actual outcomes of each phase, and serves a number of purposes:
- It is your primary tracking tool throughout the project.
- It provides every team member with schedule guidance and goals.
- It gives you and your team an ongoing means for spotting and overcoming emerging problems.
The project schedule also helps you to monitor your project methodically - a task that, without some form of management and planning aid, is formidable. The overall scope of a project may be overwhelming, but the project schedule enables you to isolate immediate problems and to solve them, while keeping the overall schedule. The final deadline is met when you are able to meet a series of smaller phase deadlines - or to absorb scheduling problems in one phase by making them up in another.