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Project Scheduling Tips (#3 in the series Project Management Mistake – We Didn’t Have The Right Schedule)
By Lonnie Pacelli

Get real with the schedule, and fast – Don’t delay; get the schedule in shape quickly making sure that you’ve defined all the right tasks, durations, dependencies, and resources to get it done. More importantly, don’t go into a cave for days on end to do; make sure you are getting input on the schedule frequently to avoid an unrealistic schedule.

Do focused reviews with team members – On some projects, I have developed supplemental documentation which explains key tasks that might be confusing and even gone so far as to produce a template of what the deliverable out of the task needed to look like. I prefer to do mini reviews as the plan is being developed to ensure that the team is putting their thumbprint on the plan and that any confusion points can be addressed early.

Keep dependencies simple – While it’s great to clearly understand dependencies between tasks, I’ve also seen plans that are overly complicated because the project manager built in serial dependencies between tasks that could actually be performed in parallel. This could be due to an assumed dependency between the tasks or because the project manager is anticipating that one person will be doing both tasks. Before defining a dependency, put rigor into making sure that the tasks are truly reliant on being performed serially.

Highlight tasks which are due in the next 1-2 weeks – I’ve learned through experience that solely relying on the project schedule as the communication vehicle for a project team is not always the most effective way of ensuring tasks get done on time. Depending on the experience of your team, they may not understand how to read the schedule and may miss some key tasks that need to get done. I’ve learned to use either status reports or e-mail reminders to individual team members reminding them of what they need to do and when it needs to be done. It puts a bit more work on the project manager, but it better ensures the team member knows what needs to be done by when.

Lonnie Pacelli is an internationally recognized project management and leadership author and consultant with over 20 years experience at Microsoft, Accenture and his own company, Leading on the Edge International. Read more about Lonnie, subscribe to his newsletter, see his books and articles, and get lots of free self-study seminars, webcasts and resources.

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