Project management is a complex process as it demands a fair share of planning and scheduling to ensure seamless execution. This is particularly the case with big teams with multiple contributors who have to coordinate their activities delicately.
According to the research, less than a third of all projects have been successfully completed on time and on budgetover the past year. It’s a clear signal that timing and scheduling are quintessential aspects of project management.
This is exactly where timelines step in to kickstart a project. In this post, we will show you simple steps on how to create project timelines and schedules right. Let’s take a look!
The Basics of Project Timelines
If you are new to the concept, you should first get to learn the basics of project timelines. By definition, a timeline is a linear representation of important events in the order in which they occurred. In terms of project management, it is simply an order of events and activities that you and your team plan to undertake in the coming period.
What are the elements of a typical timeline? Generally speaking, we can distinguish between four important segments:
- Specific tasks that need to be done during the campaign.
- Precise dates determining the beginning and the end of each task.
- Team members in charge of specific tasks.
- Dependencies between activities.
The vast majority of project managers rely on horizontal timelines that display events in chronological order. The line shows different periods of the project and enables supervisors to visualize events, thus making it easy for employees to understand and follow the workflow.
Jake Gardner, a data visualization expert at the Assignment Geek, says there are many project management tools that allow users to create interactive timelines and modify dashboards on the go: “However, linear timelines remain the most common solution among project managers worldwide.”
8 Ways to Design a Perfect Project Timeline
A brief introduction is over and now it is time to focus on what matters the most here. Without further ado, let’s see eight ways to design a perfect project timeline.
- Create a project scope statement
The first step in the process is to create a clear and concise project scope statement. It is a straightforward description of the project that highlights the deliverables and objectives you plan to complete in a given timeframe.
For example, assignment writing service agents at the write essay for me could plan a project timeline for a new book on graphic design. In this case, they could create the following statement: “Our goal is to write a 300-page book with chapters dedicated to the history of design, logo creation, typography, color schemes, design trends, and the best tools.”
- Make a work breakdown structure
Making a work breakdown structure is the next step in the process. What is the purpose of this step? The idea is to think about the way to analyze the project scope statement and divide key deliverables into smaller segments. These still aren’t concrete activities, but rather chunks of tasks that need to be done along the way.
Going back to the graphic design book example, we can choose to divide chapters into smaller work packages. For instance, a chapter about color schemes can have different segments dedicated to color scheme types and the meaning of each color separately.
- Divide work packages into specific tasks
You probably figured out the next step already. Of course, we are talking about dividing work packages into highly specific tasks for your team members. This is where you need to create detailed to-do lists for your employees and give them a full set of predetermined activities.
We will use the graphic design book example once again. A writer in charge of color scheme types will discuss different options such as monochromatic, achromatic, polychromatic, complementary, analogous, triadic, and other types of color pairings. An author in charge of color meanings will discuss the connotations behind different colors, ranging from white to black.
- Present project dependencies
A project dependency is a logical, constraint-based or preferential relationship between two activities or tasks such that the completion or the initiation of one is reliant on the completion or initiation of the other.
To put it simply, a dependency is a task that you cannot initiate until one of the previous tasks has been finished. For example, you cannot write a conclusion of the book before creating a body part with all of its chapters and major conclusions.
- Determine the time needed for the completion of each task
The fifth step in this process is critical because it forces project managers to think about the time needed to complete each task individually. Projects with hundreds of deliverables are sometimes so difficult to predict that supervisors can miss the deadline for weeks or even months.
This is why you need to be extra careful here and assess the capabilities of your team members correctly. For example, you can estimate that each writer needs two weeks to write a full chapter of the book. A simple calculation will show you the schedule and the period needed to complete the entire book.
- Think about resource availability
A lot of projects experience delays because there aren’t enough resources to get the job done in a timely manner. These can be financial resources, but project managers have to deal with the lack of human resources in most situations.
“Sometimes your employees cannot focus on a given project exclusively because they have other things to do as well. Sometimes you are going to work with freelancers who are not fully dedicated to your project. This is why you should think about possible delays and think about the time it will add to your timeline”, says Merilyn Kings, who works with online assignment help australia from grabmyessay.
- Add milestones to the timeline
Important milestones are the key moments that you can use to track the evolution of your project and determine whether you can get it done on time or not. Most managers consider work packages to be project milestones, but you can also use some other performance indicators to measure the results of your team and predict the time of completion.
- Create the timeline
With everything you’ve done so far, creating a full project timeline should not be too difficult. It is the last stage of the process where you should add each task to the graphic and determine the optimal schedule.
Creating an accurate timeline is the basic precondition of successful project management. Although it may seem simple at first, the truth is that project scheduling is extremely demanding because you have to take into account a wide range of deliverables and multiple participants.
In this post, we discussed eight simple steps on how to create project timelines and schedules right. The steps we mentioned could slightly differ from project to project, but they should help project managers in all industries to get their jobs done faster and more efficiently.
Have you ever used a similar project timeline strategy? Do you have other important ideas to add to our list? Make sure to leave a comment – we would be glad to see your experiences with the project scheduling!
Tiffany Harper is a talented writer from New York, an extremely active woman, and a real leader. She began her career as a journalist and later proceeded as an educational writer and editor. Now she works as the subject matter expert with Easyessay.org, the assignment help and dissertations services, mostly in technology, business and education area. Please do not hesitate to contact her on Twitter.