written by
Sthomas

Scheduling and Planning: The Two Keys You Need for Success

Agile Project Management 5 min read

Many managers face a fleeting feeling of doing a lot in a day, yet failing to accomplish anything significant. Due to the sheer number of meetings, frequent interruptions, and urgent tasks, this is extremely common for project managers.

Scheduling allows you to plan all important activities, helping you achieve goals and prioritize urgent tasks. It helps you estimate what you can realistically achieve in a given time. Dedicate time for important tasks and events, develop contingencies, and leave things that you must avoid.

Doing planning and scheduling properly can help you steer away from meaningless work and make consistent progress. In this article, we will discuss 5 things you should consider while planning and scheduling your tasks.

Give Attention to People Management

Project managers already have too much on their plate. They not only have to finalize on the project scope and set deadlines but also manage costs and deliverables. As a result, they might overlook things that create an environment for other pitfalls for the project.

When you are managing a project, you must always give priority to the people who are actually working on the project. With proper team management, it will be easier to communicate the requirements within a project.

If you limit your engagement with the project team, you will not be able to assign project roles accurately. As a result, you will either miss deadlines or fail to deliver what the client expects.

Being Unclear about the Project Scope

Another mistake some project managers make is that they don’t clearly define project scope in the initial phase. Ideally, project managers should waste no time in defining the project scope and consult stakeholders to confirm what they have in mind.

Photographer: Jo Szczepanska | Source: Unsplash

To make sure that everyone is on the same page, you must write down the project scope statement and include the objectives and requirements of the project. Until the stakeholders approve the scope of the project, you cannot start working on it.

Use Accurate Estimates

One of the greatest mistakes you can make as a project manager is making wrong estimates about a project. Many project managers rely on the estimates made at the beginning of the project and don’t realize that their initial estimates might be unreliable as the project progresses.

Such mistakes in the early phases of the project can waste time and resources, which eventually hurts the project completion in the end. In worse cases, these delays can become the direct cause of project failure.

This is why it’s important for project managers to keep an eye on factors that may overrule their initial assumptions. Finding these issues immediately and rethinking your estimates can help you optimize your planning for better results.

Identify Your Limitations

For a project manager, identifying things that can’t be done is as important as the things that are critical for the project’s success. Unless you convey your expectations with your team and take their input, it would be difficult to know their limitations. Consequently, you will agree on things that cannot be achieved and fail to deliver critical project goals.

I work in a software company designed and structured an app for field staff. That day we made a tour of our flow and could not miss a shot of our work :)
Photographer: Alvaro Reyes | Source: Unsplash

Therefore, it’s important to evaluate your expectations of your team before you begin a project. You may think highly of your team, but it is not always possible for them to meet your expectations. Failing to identify these limitations will cause to plan things that are not possible, which will hurt the project in the end.

Invest in Understanding Project Requirements

Needless to say, each project has different requirements and carries a unique set of challenges for the manager. Therefore, you need to carefully study these requirements in advance to plan the critical aspects of the project effectively.

However, some project managers rush through the requirement gathering process and misinterpret what the client wants. As a result, they are not able to address the client’s needs in their planning and ultimately fail to deliver what the client wants.

This is why it’s essential to always go through the requirements of every project, even if the requirements sound familiar. Furthermore, it’s also important to get feedback from colleagues and superiors before you begin assigning tasks to your team.

Set Realistic Deadlines

Sometimes, project managers underestimate the complexities of a given project and set unrealistic deadlines as a result.  This practice is far too common and is one of the major reasons why some projects fail to bear fruit.

If your team does not have ample time to deal with problems at hand, they can leave room for unexpected issues and delays. Furthermore, many team members fear to admit that they need more time because of peer pressure. As a result, these gaps widen as the project progresses and ultimately causes the project to deviate from the original requirements.

As a project manager, it’s your responsibility to assign your team ample time to resolve issues comprehensively. Unless you give them the time they need, you cannot expect them to fulfill the requirements of the clients effectively.

Furthermore, if you develop the practice of setting fake deadlines and then resetting them with real ones, your team will start to doubt the credibility of your deadlines. Therefore, it’s best to stay honest with your team and set realistic deadlines.

Conclusion

It’s true that project planning is vital to your project’s success. However, you must make sure that you plan the project while keeping all critical factors that can disrupt your planning.

You must ask questions such as what you will include in your plan, why do you include it, who is responsible for that task, and when the task will be completed. If something goes against your plan, you must adapt to changes while staying inside the project scope.

With that said, it isn’t easy to get everything right, and even the best of us can err sometimes. However, you must learn from your previous projects and use your experience to improve your project plans and their implementation.

Project Management