In project management, timing is half the battle. Leaders have to keep all the members of the team on track, hitting their deadlines and constantly making progress toward their shared goals. Getting everything done on time and under budget calls for strategy and forethought, and that's why you need to maintain a clear project plan calendar.
There are many different ways to set up a project planning calendar template, and it's important for every leader to find an approach that works for their team's needs. From there, you must make choices that will keep employees moving forward with their individual tasks, even when circumstances get tough. Here are a few key considerations to bear in mind as you establish the schedule for managing a project:
1. Set Realistic Milestones
A leader can only deliver results if he or she has a clear sense of what the team has the resources to accomplish and how long it will take. That's why it matters so much to be thoughtful and realistic when placing milestones and deliverables on the schedule. People have a natural tendency to underestimate how long it will take to get something done. To get around that problem, leaders should do their own homework and be sure they have an accurate estimate for how much time each task will require.
2. Maintain Open Lines of Communication
Setting a schedule and sticking to it takes open and honest dialogue among the people involved. The leader should arrange regular status updates and talk to multiple stakeholders about the team's progress. That way, workers can give advance warning if a deliverable is going to be late and make suggestions for how to finish tasks more efficiently.
3. Choose the Right Tools
The software a team uses to manage its schedule can make a major difference in whether the project is a success. While some leaders may opt for an Excel project plan template, that means they miss out on some major opportunities. Selecting a project management solution that includes the capability to create detailed Gantt charts, like Wrike, provides several major advantages:
- Everyone involved clearly sees their responsibilities and any scheduling conflicts.
- The team becomes aware of how different tasks are related to each other.
- Leaders are able to prepare for busy periods and arrange their project plan calendar accordingly.
By establishing a project tracking template and using software to monitor progress, a leader gives the team the support and information they need to complete the project on time.
4. Be Prepared for Project Plan Calendar Changes
Carefully planning ahead doesn't mean you have to be inflexible. Any good manager knows there will likely be problems and delays with any project, and how you respond to those issues determines the outcome. When you know where all team members stand with their own tasks, it's easier to make adjustments as necessary to avoid taking too long or spending too much.
Laying out a detailed project plan calendar is the beginning of getting a team to its goals. The next steps require close supervision, meaningful communication and the ability to make changes when necessary.