The third article in our mini-series revolves around the ever-crucial element of timing. In the world of project management, timing is everything. Time is one of the factors that makes projects what they are; projects are endeavours bounded by scope, cost, quality, and time. From knowing when planning begins, to evaluating when a project phase should end, to deciding when deliverables can be shipped, time constantly affects and constrains projects. In this day and age, where anyone’s ideas can be realized with technology, time is an ever-present force that helps kick dreams into action.
The project timing break down:
We can break time for a project down into quantifiable time frames: short, medium, and long. By defining a project’s time frame, you can limit the scope and tune the requirements. For example, a project with a short time frame may be a hackathon, which is expected to be completed over the course of a few days. The expectation is that such a project won’t be of a high quality or expansive scope, but it still can have a set of criteria to define completion. Comparatively, a medium time frame would range from months to years, and so tasks or projects falling into this range would be more fully-featured and to a much higher quality. For grand endeavours that are perhaps more easily identifiable as product suites, software updates, or passion projects, a large time frame applies. These endeavours don’t have a foreseeable end, but still are governed by requirements and acceptance criteria. By defining what time frame your project falls into, you can more easily set expectations for the scope, quality, and cost.
What project timing means for your project management
The first aspect of managing time is to be aware of it. Talk to stakeholders and understand their expectations; talk to your team and get a high-level estimate. With these pieces of information, you can work and rework the scope of the project to suss out the requirements that need to be addressed. Generally, your next course of action is to break down the project work into tasks with the team. Time estimates can be applied to these tasks, and from these, you can reassess whether stakeholder expectations need to be adjusted. It helps immensely to have good project management software to track your team’s estimates, any dependencies between tasks, and give insight into the larger picture of project completion. Some software allows you to see the entire timeline of your tasks against the current calendar date, so there are no questions about project’s status. As your team works through these project tasks, you need to be aware of any blockers that come up and may affect your team’s ability to complete work on schedule. Identifying risks as early and as regularly as possible also enables you to mitigate and action on any threats to your estimates.
What we recommend
The best thing you can do to manage time is to track it, and nowadays there are many different tools you can use to do so. By using software like OneDesk, you gain the ability to manage projects of any length; short, medium, long—OneDesk is flexible in handling the time frame of any project. OneDesk also allows you to track project tasks, assign time estimates to them, and log time spent on each one. This visibility is vital for helping you manage deadlines, milestones, and schedules. By tracking where time is spent throughout a project, you give yourself insight and a basis for what to expect when managing future projects.
Photo Credit: Clock / Dineshraj Goomany / CC BY