One of the trickiest yet crucial points to effective project management is scheduling. Every project is all about timing. Some projects operate on tighter schedules than others, but when it comes down to laying out and scheduling tasks, timing is of the utmost importance.
Estimating. Experienced project managers know that it can take a great deal of skill to estimate and schedule tasks accordingly, particularly for projects or clients that are brand new. However, scheduling can’t be done properly without first estimating a project’s scope, costs, and deliverables. During the gathering requirements phase of a project, a project manager should be working a customer as well as industry and department experts to estimate:
- What is needed
- Required resources
- Duration of activities
- Cost of activities and resources
- Earned value
Multitasking. While multitasking in itself isn’t really an official project management work flow process or methodology, most project managers would agree that multitasking is almost necessary when managing projects—especially those organizations that require project managers to take on more than one project, which essentially means managing juggling tasks.
Organizing. Organizational skills are crucial to scheduling. Each task that contributes to the overall project needs to be scoped out, organized, budgeted, and scheduled accordingly. Therefore, project managers must be extremely detailed and organized in order to properly schedule out each task. Additionally, scheduling also involves looking ahead in the overall project. How does each task milestone impact the overall project deadline?
Then, there is the actual physical action of scheduling. Many project managers will use a calendar or project management software to schedule milestones and deadlines for each task and project. In fact, most project management software come with an interactive calendar that can be built, shared, and managed with teams and other users.
Planning. Similar to organizing, scheduling also involves planning. Planning can involve looking other areas of a project which might have an impact on a project’s schedule. This could include any known risk factors and critical path challenges. Therefore, when planning and scheduling a project, project managers should schedule a little loosely in order to plan for any delays that may occur.
Finally, project managers know that there are often a lot of moving parts to managing a project and seeing through all the stages of a project life cycle to successful completion. This is just one reason why estimating, multitasking, organizing, and planning are only some of the skills needed for project managers to effectively and efficiently schedule out a project and all tasks associated with all deliverables.