Often times, it is easy to take on a job prior to researching the work that is being requested. Making sure you are paying attention to your team, the deadline and the budget are all things to consider when planning your project prior to starting. After all, the typical assumption is that timelines are to help people stay organized. The added benefit to a timeline is to make sure that your project is profitable in the end. Once you have reviewed your scope of work, it’s time to make sure that your timeline and budget will work to achieve everyone’s goals.
Over the years, I have sharpened my project planning skills and have created a process that I use to make sure:
1. That the project is going to be completed and on budget by the given completion date
2. There are not any steps to the project that are not being thought of by both parties
3. Is this achievable with our resource workload
The first step is to dissect the hours to ensure that every step of the project is accounted for. If the project is going to take longer to complete then the current amount of hours allow for, then a discussion needs to take place to properly realign the project.
The second step is to build a timeline. You can see my example below. Many people have a tendency to start with today’s date and fill in the timeline until they hit the completion date. However, Starting with the end date and working backward until you hit the current date helps paint a better picture of the project. By doing it backward, you will have a clearer idea of how many days are needed for each step and how many hours you will have to account for over the course of the project.
Total Hours for Project: XX:XX
Budget for Project: $XXX.XX
Start Date: XX/XX/2019
Due Date: XX/XX/2019 ← This will be the best place to start
The final step is to communicate your findings about the project timeline with your client and address any questions that they may have. Be sure to communicate to your client that the dates are subject to change based on how much time it takes to get their approval or edits back. More often than not, the project needs to be reviewed first internally, then on the client’s end. Getting approval and edits together can take a significant chunk of time, and you want to make sure that is factored into the timeline.
There are many instances where the steps of the project may need to be a bit more elaborate because the project and results may be a bit more in depth. Once these steps have been completed, compare the end result against the original timeline. Will the hours align or will you be spending more hours than scoped? If your project fits the timeline and it seems that the hours will work for you and all parties involved in the project, then it is safe to move forward.
The timeline you start with may not be the timeline you end with. Many times there will be changes made based on client feedback, directional changes, delivery dates, etc., so be sure to send an updated timeline to your clients any time something changes. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page for the remainder of the project.