5 September 2019
How to Setup a Project Timeline
Even the most experienced project managers need ideas and suggestions on setting up a project plan timeline. Well-planned projects rely on a simplified process that applies to any upcoming project plans. Failing to account for all actionable items in your plan can have a significant impact on your project schedule.
A project timeline captures all the tasks with their duration. It is put in chronological order identifying the dependencies and the key milestones necessary to keep the project on track. The project management plan gives the team direction, helps to keep them aligned and where to focus their efforts to achieve success.
How do you setup a simple project plan? This process will help you build a solid foundation for your project timeline.
Defining the Scope
Your scope will determine the boundaries which will transcend to your timeline task management. It will help identify tasks, dependencies, risks, constraints, and cost. Some assumptions will need to be made. You will also need to include high-level deliverables, functionality, data, and technical structure.
Break Down Actionable Items into Small Tasks
The goal is to get the big task into its simplest form. Break the big tasks of the project into the smallest actionable items. Involve your team in this activity. They are the experts in their work and can ensure you are not missing anything. They are the best ones to help fill in any missing gaps and can ask the right questions.
If any of the tasks still feel big, try and break them down further. Review the tasks with the team to ensure they are in their simplest form, and then sequence them. A project timeline tracker can help capture this information, and there are some excellent timeline templates available in Kanbanchi.
List Tasks Sequentially
Once the tasks are in the simplest form, group tasks together that make sense. For example, all tasks related to the web user interface can be grouped or the backend configuration for an application.
Review the timeline with your team. They can pinpoint any gaps or if you are missing any tasks. They can also validate the order of the tasks since they will be performing the work.
Some tasks need to be executed in a particular order. This will identify your critical path. Slipping out of this critical path may create project delays.
Include the customer’s tasks and deliverables in your timeline. Delays on their end will impact your schedule. The customer is accountable for ensuring their deliverables are on time. You can share with the customer a high-level schedule with their deliverables, so they can see the impact they have on the overall plan.
After completing the listing and grouping of the tasks sequentially, identify the milestones for your project. A milestone can be after a major deliverable. It helps you see the progress of the work, such as delivering a release candidate to a customer. This can be considered one of your major milestones.
Another example of a project timeline sample with milestones deliverables, due date, and the responsible party is the following:
|ID||Milestone Deliverables||Due Date||Owner|
|1||Statement of Work Signatures||March 31||Company/Client|
|2||Pricing Model||April 30||Client|
|3||Website Mockups||May 31||Company|
What is the Effort of Each Task
As you build your timeline, you can use the effort identified in previous projects, a resource manager, or rely on your resources to provide an estimate of the tasks.
Use a time tracking system to capture the effort the team puts into the tasks. This is valuable data for estimating future projects and determining the number of required resources.
What are the Dependencies
As you work through listing and grouping the tasks, you will be able to spot the dependencies in your project. Capture them in your project charter.
As the best project management practice, re-iterate throughout the project, the importance of delivering a task and the consequences when a due date is missed. If you are late delivering the pricing, the website cannot go live on Tuesday.
If you do create the project timeline online, it is easier to share with stakeholders outside your team and customer. They can also be part of the review process, and you can easily add their feedback.
Having a solid understanding of the scope will determine the skillsets of the resources required to execute on your project. Ideally, you have resources assigned early, so you can involve them in breaking down the tasks, putting the tasks in sequential order, and providing the effort.
What Kind of Project Scheduling Tools Should You Use?
There is numerous project timeline software on the market. You want a tool that is flexible and creates awareness and visibility. You want to be able to share information with your team to keep on track with a step-by-step actionable plan.
Projects are dynamic. As a seasoned professional, be prepared for anything that may come your way. Involve your team and get their buy-in on the effort, duration, and schedule. They are executing the work, and their buy-in secures their commitment to the project.
Kanbanchi offers one of the best project management templates on the market. It can support an Agile project management timeline and offer a Gantt chart maker providing visuals for stakeholders and templates to help you quickly get started. Kanbanchi can be your tool of choice to maximize team performance.