Time is a major factor in determining the success or failure of a project. Even when you manage to do a wonderful job, deliver high-quality results, and complete the project in half the costs you were assigned, it will all come to naught if the project doesn’t get finished on time.
Project managers are responsible for developing a schedule of work activities. They need to ensure that people are aware of their duties and work is progressing at the right pace to complete and deliver the project objectives on time.
Here are five tips that can be very helpful in organizing work and ensuring that things get done on time.
1. Identify All Relevant Tasks
The manager must identify all the work items, tasks, and processes that are going to be a part of the project. This can be easy to do for repeat or simple projects where activities are straightforward or clear to the manager because they have been performed previously.
For new and complex projects, identifying all the necessary work items can be more difficult. In this case, the project manager must forecast the requirements on the normal and worst-case scenarios so that they can be prepared for environmental risks with contingencies.
Once all the relevant tasks or close approximations for them have been identified, the project manager must answer the following questions.
Q: What is the maximum and minimum length of completion for each task?
Q: Which tasks have the most immediate completion deadline?
Q: Are there any tasks that will have a positive impact on the project, financially or with respect to time, if they are completed early?
Q: Which tasks depend on the full or partial completion of other project activities before they can be started?
Q: Are there any persons on the project who are necessary for the completion of a task? Is this person only available for certain periods of time?
Q: How dependent is the project on external stakeholders, such as subcontractors or material suppliers, for timely completion?
Q: Are there any tasks will reduce the risks for the project once they are completed?
2. Develop a Work Schedule
The project schedule is the main document that identifies when new activities start and ongoing activities finish. It provides direction to the manager for reviewing work processes. It is also used by team members to understand when they are required to start and stop work on the project.
The work schedule also helps the manager prepare the grounds for upcoming work by gathering the necessary resources. It is critical for dividing complex projects into smaller, manageable parts that can be completed one after another.
The schedule creates a roadmap of critical activities that can delay the project, allowing the manager to focus on them on a priority basis.
3. Get Organized
This is where project managers bring all the resources together to complete projects according to schedule. Project organization involves mustering and allocating resources, delegating authority, setting timelines, and communicating with project members.
Project managers can use digital tools and mobile devices to help them stay organized. Staying accessible to team members is important so that they can report on daily progress or ask for guidance on how to complete tasks.
Project team members come with different personalities and work habits. Some project members may need constant pushing and daily work review to ensure things are progressing according to the timeline. Others may not be happy with micromanagement and prefer a more hands-off style of management.
The project manager’s job is to determine what management style is suitable for each stakeholder and then work according to the strengths and weaknesses of each project participant.
4. Create a Project Completion Process
There should be a robust monitoring process for each project task to ensure work is progressing according to schedule. The review can be carried out on a daily basis for short-term projects or on a specific day each week for tasks that can take months to complete.
Once an activity has been finished, it should be checked for accuracy of completion and quality review before proceeding to the next task.
The project manager should assign some time for reviewing progress on each activity and must not neglect the review process in favor of pursuing other tasks. The continuous review process will ensure that you are on top of the different activities for the project.
5. Budget Adjustments
The project budget helps the manager control various activities and resource allocation. Depending on the project, it may be possible to increase budget spending on a task to get it completed sooner and lower spending on another activity to let it progress at a slower pace.
Two major issues related to budgets can cause projects to get delayed. The first involves delays in funds disbursements from the investor or client. If a critical activity requires timely disbursement of funds and the client fails to provide them, then the project manager must inform them about the possibility of a delay.
The project manager must document how the delay in fund disbursement slowed down the whole project and made timely completion difficult.
The second major issue involves project risks. The project manager must create a contingency fund at the onset of the project. The fund is used to expedite project activities in case of unexpected, adverse changes in the environment.
These are our five tips for completing projects on time that can be very useful for project managers. For more tips, please subscribe or get in touch with us to share your views.