Projects are often notorious for poor project time management resulting in the exceeding of budget and deadlines, often with unhappy clients too! Project time management is essential for achieving anticipated and negotiated results.
Clarify expectations, budget and deadlines
When it comes to project time management it is crucial to clarify project deliverables and expectations with all the key stakeholders. Unless you do this you may find yourself reworking phases of the project. This could lead to unnecessary delays or failing to meet the deadline.
Preparation and planning
The next step to facilitate efficient project time management is to focus on preparation and planning. Flesh out the various stages of the project, allocate time lines, identify the people who will be involved and determine what additional resources will be required. We often short-cut this preparation phase only to find at a later stage that we are forced to stop and do further planning. The more time you take to plan, the more effective and efficient you will be with the project implementation.
There are amazing software systems for scheduling all the detailed activities of each phase. Software will help you determine the sequence of activities. You can also allocate the relevant people to each stage. Software eases the burden of updating the plan when there are changes. It enables you to have an overview of the project, resources that have been allocated and time lines.
In addition, it allows you to drop down into the detail of each stage making it much easier to see what is planned and to monitor deliveries of each phase. An automated system will certainly make your project time management easier.
Project management meetings
Effective project managers ensure that they have weekly project management meetings where progress is monitored with the project team. Where there are sub-projects regular meetings need to be scheduled too. It is often easier to have a set day and time for these meetings as then it becomes part of the routine to meet.
A format for reporting enables you to have effective feedback meetings and to focus on the crucial aspects of the project. This will reduce the time required to meet.
Managing a change in requirements
Often clients do not really know what they want! Or they change their requirements along the way. It is important to clarify at the start of the project how you will manage changes in specifications.
Some changes may need to be addressed once the core project is complete. Alternatively clients need to sacrifice an existing step. Be clear that the time lines and budget will be affected and need to be renegotiated should the client make significant changes to their list of requirements. As a project manager you need to be assertive in your project time management approach.
On-going monitoring forms a crucial part of effective project time management. Check at regular intervals that progress is being made. Take time to talk through potential derailing factors with each team member or sub-group. In this way preventative action can be taken or contingency plans put in place.
Project managers carry an enormous amount of responsibility. It is your role to manage and co-ordinate all activities to ensure that you have a happy client at the end.
Remember to focus on your own emotional well-being so that you are able to manage the pressures that come with this role!