Project Management Tips: Timeline

By: Jett Winders, Program Manager, Charity Dynamics

In our first post on project management, we identified seven characteristics of a winning project team. Today, we’ll outline building a successful timeline.

In any project, the timeline is both your best friend and biggest enemy as everyone tries to execute against deadlines that always come more quickly than one would like.

5 Tips for Keeping Time on Your Side

  1. Initial Review: Carefully review the project schedule when it is first presented to you. This is your timeline so assertively ask questions and challenge assumptions. Make sure to communicate if you need more time for activities such as approvals or content development. Getting the timeline right at the beginning will save everyone headaches later.
  2. Honest Expectations: Many project managers underestimate how much of their time is needed to help coordinate the project. Be realistic about how much time you can devote to the project and how much you are being expected to commit. You may still have a full-time job in addition to the project you are working on. Being honest about your availability with both your vendor and your boss will set the right expectations at the beginning.
  3. Meet your deadline: It sounds simple, but taking ownership of deadlines and making a commitment to meet them is key to the success of your project. Expect yourself to meet your deadlines and expect the same of your team throughout the project.
  4. Tracking: Identify and stick to a form of deadline and progress tracking that works for your organization. Tools like Basecamp work for many teams but simple spreadsheets can do the trick too.
  5. Scope Check: Make sure you and your project team know exactly what the scope of the project you are trying to complete is. Review the scope of work if you are working with a vendor carefully – this document should define exactly what the final product will and won’t include. Sticking to a defined set of deliverables will help make your project a success.

In our final post we’ll share tips for communicating effectively from the start through the completion of the project.