8 Project Timeline Mistakes that Project Managers Must be Aware of

Project Timeline mistakes

A well-thought-out project planning and scheduling are crucial for the success of the project. A project schedule is similar to the heart that constantly pumps life into the project team to complete everyday tasks. All the project managers are well-versed with this fact, and they devote considerable time and effort in preparing the project timeline. But despite a well-framed timeline, projects get derailed or delayed drastically many times. Do you also have a similar story?

As a project head or manager, you must be very considerate while making a project timeline because even a single blunder may mislead your team, creating a big disaster.

Here are a few errors that you must stop making to ensure the successful and timely delivery of the project.

1. Not Evaluating the Requirements

If you don’t establish requirements before setting the schedule, the chances are high that your timeline will be impractical, and you will have to work more than 80 hours per week to make up for your project scheduling mistake.

So, avoid starting projects immediately. First, get the statement of requirements from the client to understand what exactly you have to deliver. Prepare your timeline according to this statement and get it approved by the client.

2. Inadequacy of Resources

Creating a schedule without considering the available resources can pose a huge challenge and impact the overall project performance. Without adequate resources, it is difficult to complete the project on time and deliver the expected scope. In addition, the project team will experience added work pressure to accomplish the set goals.

3. Missing Dependencies

No task or activity exists independently in a project; they are related in one or the other way. The task dependencies are critical for sequencing the workflow, calculating the critical path, and identifying the opportunities to fast-track the schedule. If these dependencies are not appropriately defined in the timeline, it may result in miscalculation of how long tasks will take to complete; thus, delaying the project delivery.

You can use Gantt Charts to illustrate the interrelationship between various tasks and activities of the project in an understandable manner.

4. Lack of Contingency

While creating a timeline, many project managers don’t take into account the future risks, unforeseen problems, and contingencies related to approach, cost, and time that may imperil the delivery target date.

Applying contingency to the project timeline will allow you to create a buffer for the unpredicted risks and provide you the flexibility to take required actions when things go wrong, to achieve the project goals within the estimated time.

5. Lack of Milestones

An accurate timeline comprises not only kickoff and delivery dates but also deliverables and milestones with strict deadlines tied to them. Milestones are the marked progress points that divide the timeline into phases to keep the team on track and provide visibility into the changes required in the schedule.

By not including milestones in your timeline, you leave your teammates in limbo, wondering how to complete such a big and complex project within the deadline. Assuming that the deadline is far, they will focus on less important tasks first. And, when the deadline will approach, you (as a project manager) will have to push your team hard, compromising the quality.

Useful Template: Project Milestone

6. Not Updating the Timeline Regularly

If the key member gets sick, test results show that more work needs to be done in certain areas, or there is any change in the risk management; all these can impact the scope and schedule of your project to a great extent. In such a scenario, you need to regularly update your project timeline to reflect these changes and keep it realistic. Based on the size and complexity of the project, you can update it daily, weekly, or monthly.

7. Not Including the Team while Preparing the Schedule

It will be difficult to meet the project deadline if you prepare the timeline without understanding the capabilities and capacity of the team to take up the project. You can generate past productivity reports from the project management software, and based on these metrics; you can estimate the capabilities of the team in the future.

8. Giving Inexact Timeline Due to Managerial Pressure

Sometimes, due to stakeholders’ pressure, you commit to delivering the project on a specific deadline, even though you know it is not feasible. You must avoid making this mistake; otherwise, you will end up disappointing and stressing your team to meet the deadline. So, be candor while assessing what can be done and what can’t be done in the given timeframe, and convey it clearly to the stakeholders involved.

The Bottom Line

Project teams rely on an accurate timeline to plan and complete their tasks accordingly. So, you must communicate the schedule to the team clearly and comprehensively. You can use pre-designed Project Timeline Templates to convey your message in a visually engaging manner. Last but not least, don’t be too rigid; consider all the aspects painstakingly to create a pragmatic timeline.

What can be other potential mistakes in Project Timelines? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below. And, if you like the blog post, do share it on your social media handles.

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