One of the most difficult aspects of project management is scheduling. Coordinating delivery dates based on accurate (or nearly accurate) estimates is, well, an art perhaps more than a skill.
Most people now use scheduling software to make that once manual task a whole lot easier. Certainly, the benefits far out way trying to schedule your project tasks with your team manually, via Excel. If you haven’t yet tried the simplicity of automated scheduling tools, consider switching to online project management software, if only for these features:
- Interactive Gantt Charts – As you add tasks and dates, the bars of the Gantt are automatically populated and updated whenever changes occur
- Task Dependencies – Automating your dependencies streamlines your project scheduling as downstream task deadlines are instantly adjusted to meet shifting timelines
- Calendar Integration – Why maintain separate programs when they can be integrated all in one place?
- Email Alerts – A lifesaver and time-saver for anyone managing a project. Let the software remind your team for you.
- One-click Reporting – No more wasting time creating reports, when you can run them off at the click of a button.
But there are more tips and tricks that scheduling software offers that you can learn that help make project scheduling more efficient for you and your team. Take a look at scheduling tricks of the trade:
Yes, collaboration a buzzword that’s trending the business world of the moment. It’s true that collaboration is crucial to getting tasks done when working with your resources. That’s what teamwork is. But when it comes to scheduling a project, isn’t that task reserved exclusively for the project leader?
No! You’ve hired a team because of their expertise for the project. Why wouldn’t you get their input in scheduling that project? Yes, you’re still the project leader and the buck stops with you, however, by including the team into the process you’re not only getting new ideas and perspective, but creating buy-in.
You can do this with the scheduling software by sharing access to the project plan itself. In many online tools these days, your team can add files and comments right on the task level so everyone is looped when impacts to the schedule occur. Additionally, if your team is invited into the project schedule, then they’ll be more invested and able to help when issues impact project timeline. You don’t want to be the roadblock on project progress, simply because you insist on controlling the process, do you? Online project scheduling software enables your team to collaborate and troubleshoot together, which is good for the project and good for you.
2. Workload Scheduling
Scheduling is not a one and done activity. Nor does it stop at the Gantt or task list in your project management software. You want to be able to integrate the task scheduling views that the Gantt offers with resource and workload scheduling features, too.
Make sure your PM tools support these different views to help balance the workload of your team members. There are ways to schedule your team’s workload that are deceptively simple, such as via coloring coding, which allows you to see at a glance who is over, under or on task.
Then, you want to be able to re-allocate a resource simply and easily by re-assigning their tasks or shifting their hourly allocation of those tasks right in this view.
3. Project Dashboards
Throughout the project your team will be estimating the duration of their tasks, but these are at best educated guesses, which you use to populate the project schedule or Gantt chart. One of the many reasons you need a dashboard is that it provides a view of the schedule in real-time alongside other vital data points. This allows you to be able to see at-a-glance the overall status of the project quickly and helps you act to avoid blocking team members and cause undue delays in your project.
Your project management software should have an interactive Gantt chart scheduling function, in which you can get a visible horizontal graph of your tasks once they’ve been imported into the program. But if it’s not collaborative, it requires you to do the bulk of the work. Similarly, your PM tool needs a workload scheduling view, so you can drill into resource availability from a different angle than just a project plan can provide. Tying it all together are real-time dashboards that help you contextualize your schedule alongside key data points on task progress and time spent.
If you’re looking to power your project scheduling, try ProjectManager.com. Our online project management software has all the features described above and more. You can try it out free with this 30-day trial or by clicking the banner below.