When you think of a project schedule you might think of something simple. After all, we all create project schedules, right? But they generally don’t have a lot of detail or specificity. They also might look different from one time to the next and they’re usually private. But if you’re talking about creating a true project schedule you want something that your entire team can use and that will help everyone to stay on task.
In order for that to happen, you need a specific project schedule that you use all the time.
That means you need a project schedule that is specific, definitive, collaborative, and organized. You need it to communicate with everyone on the team and everyone responsible for the tasks that they need to do. And you need to make sure that everyone is achieving the goals that you have set. So, what else do you need to know about project schedules and how to use them? What else is there to know about where they come from and how they work? Well, there’s quite a bit that you should know.
We’re going to take a little closer look at project schedules and just what they really entail and mean for you. Your business is going to be much better off for it.
It’s uncertain exactly where project schedules came from because people have been keeping task lists and writing on calendars for a long time. But they’ve definitely started to become more important moving into the commercial sector. Any business needs some form of project scheduling, though you may use a different method than other businesses or even others within your same business. The key is to have some method of keeping track of what is happening in your business at any given time. And from there, you have plenty of options.
There are plenty of different types of project schedules that you can use that range from to-do lists and calendars to Gantt charts and Kanban boards. It’s going to be entirely up to you which of these types of schedules you want to keep dand it’s going to be up to your business which ones work out the best. Your entire team is going to be better off if you have a cohesive structure and a way to make sure everyone is on track at all times.
To-do Lists: These can be good if you don’t have a lot going on at any given time. A to-do list is an easy way to write down each of your tasks that you’re currently working on and make sure that each of them gets done quickly. If you have a lot of tasks or if tasks are in different stages of completion it can be difficult to use these lists, however. Also, if you are not the one responsible for all of the tasks it can be difficult to have a to-do list for different people. They can also be difficult to communicate with others.
Calendars: A calendar seems like a great idea in theory but it can be a little difficult to keep track of. If you have a paper calendar it’s difficult for everyone to see at the same time. They have to keep going back and forth to the calendar. It’s also difficult to update things, it’s hard to communicate with everyone and your calendar is only effective if everyone goes back and forth to look at it daily. Online calendars can clear up many of these problems but they still require a lot of work to keep up on at all times.
Gantt Charts: These charts are a great way to keep track of everything that needs to be done within your project or team. They let you track all of the information that you need like the task that needs completing, when it needs to be started and ended, who is responsible, and more. You can also communicate directly in the chart, which makes it easier to keep everyone in the loop. Not only that but this type of chart is easy for everyone to read and keeps things organized so your projects can stay on track even better.
Kanban Boards: These boards are similar to Gantt charts in that they’re going to let you track all of the same information. You’re going to have an easy time laying out your tasks on each of the cards and then you can easily move them from one area to the next so they are passed from tasks that need to be done to those that are in progress and then those that are completed. You get to assign different start and end dates and you also get to set up categories the way you want them. You’ll still have methods of communication with everyone on your team as well as easy changes throughout the project.
First, a project schedule tells you what needs to be done. It lists out each of the different tasks that need to be accomplished in order for a project to be considered completed and it gives detailed information about the resources needed for that project and when it needs to be completed. The schedule needs to give a great deal of information for it to be useful and for everyone involved in that project to know what they’re supposed to be doing. The more detailed your project schedule is the more efficient and effective it is.
You’ll want to include each task as it’s the point on your project schedule. Alongside each task, you’ll want to include the start date, the end date, the milestones, who is responsible for that task or different components of the task, and anything else that you possibly can. In short, you want as much information as you possibly can be included so that anyone who looks at that task and that project as a whole will understand what’s happening and what still needs to happen. That’s how you make sure everything is getting done properly.
When it comes to project schedules you want to keep in mind that your team is going to be looking at this document and using it as their source of information. They are going to trust that everything on the project schedule is not only accurate but up-to-date and as recent as possible. That means you, as the project manager, need to make sure that you’re monitoring the schedule to make sure that’s actually true. If you don’t you could find that some members of your team are working on things that don’t need to be done because they saw it on an old version of the schedule.
You also need to keep in mind who has access to your project schedule. If you are setting up tasks for individuals in a different department but they don’t have access or don’t know to check the project schedule your project could end up behind. Or, if one member of the team doesn’t understand what the schedule is saying or how to mark tasks within the schedule or in any way how to use it they could hold up the entire project as well simply because they don’t understand what to do.
When it comes to setting up your project schedule you want to start with the basics. That means asking yourself three important questions.
- What needs to be done?
- When does it need to be done?
- Who is going to do it?
Once you have these three questions you can start creating your task list and that task list is going to allow you to create the schedule that you’re looking for and that your team needs in order to be successful.
The first question is about what needs to be done. This is where you’re going to layout the project as a whole and each of the tasks that go into getting it from where it is now to completed. Don’t be afraid to lay out your tasks in as simple of steps as possible and to break things down further and further to get to the tasks your team needs to complete.
You’ll also want to look at what tasks are dependent upon other tasks at this point. For example, you might have one task that needs to be completed before your next task can be started. These dependencies should all be noted because they’ll play an important role in how your tasks are assigned and what type of deadlines you’re going to put on each of those tasks.
Your next question is figuring out when everything needs to be done. Some of your tasks are going to need to be done very quickly and will have short deadlines. These might be rush projects and tasks or they might be basic tasks that need to be completed in order for anything else to be done. But not all of your tasks are going to fit into this quick category. Some will take longer.
Now that you have a list of all of the different tasks that need to be completed it’s time to take a look at when they need to be completed. Don’t be afraid to write out due dates and start dates for each of those tasks. You’re going to do best if you work with the individuals and teams that are responsible for the task to make sure the estimates that you have (since they’re going to be estimated at this stage) are more accurate.
We started with the teams and individuals who are responsible for tasks in the previous question but it deserves its own area as well. You need to make sure that you know who is going to be responsible for each of the different tasks that you’ve assigned. And you need to make sure that no one person or team is responsible for too much. You need to delegate out the tasks that are being worked on so you can get things done on time.
When you’re ready to start creating your project schedule it’s time to look at all of your different options. Look at different programs that are out there to help you get your tasks scheduled outright and consider different formats like Gantt charts and Kanban boards. With either of these, you’re going to have a clear and concise method of tracking all of your projects and making sure that your entire team is on the same page from start to finish. The right project scheduling is going to make all of the difference.
Instagantt is a great way for you to make sure that you’re completing everything that you need when you need it. Whether you decide to use Gantt charts or Kanban boards or even switch between the two, you’ll be able to achieve everything that you need with Instagantt. And even more importantly the software is simple to use and easy to collaborate on. You can bring your entire team on board easily and inexpensively, which makes it easy to implement this process within your business. No matter how many projects you work on in a month or a whole year, you can use Instagantt to keep you on track.