What Is a Project Calendar?
A project management calendar is one of many formats for displaying a project schedule. In this case, the format is one we’re all very familiar with—regardless of our expertise with project management, we’ve all seen a calendar. For this reason, project calendars are an excellent way to share information about the project timeline with everyone on the team.
With that in mind, project planning calendars are a bit more complex than one you use in your everyday life. While their format is familiar, they include a wider array of information.
Why Are Project Management Calendars Important?
There’s a reason we still rely on a traditional calendar. They’re excellent tools for visualizing the passage of time and creating a schedule. Project managers rely on calendar views to illustrate schedules in an easy-to-digest style, often in conjunction with a Gantt chart, to display information as thoroughly as possible. That said, a project planning calendar is an excellent first step to take before mapping out a timeline.
Project calendars put all the information teams need about the project plan timeline in an easy-to-understand format. It takes a trained eye to discern everything a Gantt chart is showing, and, for many, formats like these are a bit overwhelming. A project calendar, on the other hand, is extremely straightforward. Everyone on a team is different, and having a project calendar on hand helps accommodate their various preferences.
What Is on a Project Calendar?
Project calendars must show more than important due dates. These are only one part of the puzzle. If a project calendar only shows this element of the project schedule, team members will be forced to reference other documents, which can lead to confusion and mistakes.
Instead, create a project calendar that puts all the project scheduling information in one place. This information includes tasks, resources, baselines, due dates and more.
How to Create a Project Calendar in ProjectManager
The rules for creating a project calendar aren’t set in stone. The way you approach a calendar depends on the project, the team and personal preference. With that in mind, there are a few steps you’ll need to follow for any project management calendar.
- Create Tasks: Creating tasks is a critical part of making any project schedule, and if you’re creating a project calendar, odds are you already have a task list. Now it’s time to transfer these tasks from the list to the project management calendar. When you do so, it’s important to “flesh out” tasks and provide as much detail as possible. This includes all assignees, links, images, messages, etc. The best project calendars keep all of this information in one place.
- Set Priorities: Being prepared to shuffle tasks is a very important element of creating a project calendar. Even with the best project planning, things don’t always go the way we think they will. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just means we must be prepared for different outcomes. One way to do so is by setting priorities for each task. In setting a high, medium or low priority, you’re able to move tasks around without compromising important deliverables.
- Review with Different Filters: Before locking in your project planning calendar, you’ll want to review it from different angles. This is done by using filters to see only certain aspects of the calendar. For instance, try filtering your calendar by team member to review workloads. Then, filter by task priority to see which high priority items are closest together. All of this information informs decisions about making tweaks to the calendar for better results.
How to Track Projects with a Project Calendar
One way to track projects with a project calendar is by comparing task due dates to progress and estimating whether or not tasks are on track to be completed on time. Another way to do so is by using a calendar to display resources, as well as important dates.
Using a resource calendar like this makes it easy to compare the plan to reality. Simply compare where resources were planned to be to the current status of these resources.
Best Practices for Making a Project Management Calendar
Project calendars are unique to each team. In fact, part of the beauty of a project planning calendar is the potential for customization. That said, there are a few important rules of thumb to follow in order to avoid falling into project calendar pitfalls:
Because project calendars have been used for as long as they have, people have picked up some tricks for making the most of them. One of these is color-coding. Color-coding isn’t just about aesthetics. It’s about making project calendars easy to understand, at a quick glance.
When you’re familiar with which colors represent what on your project management calendar, there’s no need to read the details every time you need information. This greatly improves efficiency. And, for visual learners and workers, color-coding means calendars make even more sense.
Project calendars offer an excellent way to check up on individual workloads and make adjustments, by giving you an option to filter your calendar by task assignee before assigning any new work. This allows you to see how busy or open someone’s schedule might be. Of course, you can also check workload in other ways, but having it on the project calendar streamlines the process. Some project managers even choose to color-code their calendars by team members.
Regardless of how you choose to represent workloads, you don’t want any team member taking up “too much space” on the calendar. This indicates that someone is more than likely drowning in tasks, and this can affect the quality of work or even the project timeline. Luckily, calendars are an excellent way to check in on these details in seconds.
It’s very helpful to set priorities for tasks. Aside from safeguarding you from going over critical due dates, these priorities also create a roadmap for contingency plans. More than likely, things won’t go exactly as they’re marked on the project plan timeline. That’s why the best project managers have plans in place for adapting the entire project calendar to each potential setback.
It isn’t enough to only be ready for one scenario. Instead, project managers must “play around” with calendars in order to map out different routes to the same destination (that destination being the completed project). The good news is, online project management calendars make this experimentation process easy and allow users to try as many contingency plans as they can think of without losing any of their original work.
ProjectManager has the Best Project Calendars
ProjectManager’s Calendar View gives users access to the best online project calendar in the game, and the power to make it 100% unique to you. Getting started is simple. Just create tasks any way you like, whether that’s via Gantt charts, kanban cards, task lists or within the calendar view itself.
Need to ask a team member a question about a certain task? There’s no need to jump to your email. Simply open the task and tag the individual in a comment.
In addition to the project calendar view, ProjectManager offers Gantt charts, Kanban boards and task lists to give you the best project management tools to plan and execute your projects. A Gantt chart allows you to keep your project schedule under control, assign tasks to your team members, define milestones and collaborate with your team in real time.
ProjectManager’s calendar view lets you lay out your work on a traditional calendar, giving your whole team an access point to see the work schedule. Start ProjectManager free for 30 days, and see how access to our work management tools will help bring success to your next project.