5 Tips To Creating A Better Project Schedule

I once heard that what gets measured gets done. We can take that farther by adding what gets scheduled gets done…on time. A schedule puts all the steps of your project in order. No matter what the project is, a good schedule makes a clear blueprint for how you allocate time. Here is how we can make those schedules better…

Focus on The Objective

Every project has a purpose. Whether the project is to build a building, develop an oil and gas field, or even cook a meal, each of these projects delivers a result. Every step in the project should focus on moving closer to the objective. Your schedule should be organized to accomplish all the project deliverables. Avoid organizing the schedule by functional groups or resources. Those are the means for completion and can be linked to tasks when appropriate.

Break the Project Down

The best way to stay focused on the objective is to break the project down into manageable steps. Start with major items that are needed to complete the project. Then you can separate each of those into smaller tasks. The smaller supporting tasks become children of the larger tasks. Each child task has the purpose of completing or moving closer to the parent’s objective.

Schedule What Needs to Be Done

This is simple in theory but can be difficult in action. Include all the pieces needed to complete the parent task by assigning correct child tasks. Create a child task for each step of the process that brings the task to completion. Conversely, avoid creating tasks that do not directly support the deliverables of the project. If you can’t measure its completion, it should not be a task.

Create Order with Meaningful Dependencies

The best way to maintain order with a schedule is through clear dependencies. When creating dependencies, identify the key tasks that will control when other tasks can occur. These triggers can be used to assign dependencies. A good dependency has flexibility. Overloading a schedule with rigid dependencies (exactly after or exactly on) will prevent it from adapting. Creating more elastic dependencies (at least, at most, no sooner than) maintains flexibility. Flexibility enables harmony and ensures the pieces all fit.

Assign Responsibility

A schedule can be well-built but fall apart without accountability. Designate an owner for every task on the schedule. The owner of a task should be responsible for updating their tasks on the schedule. If something must be done, someone is responsible for completing it and reporting it. If a task has shared ownership, it should be broken into multiple tasks. Each task should have a single owner to avoid confusion and ensure responsible completion.

With a well-built schedule, you will have a clear view of where your project is and where it is going.