Project Management

5 Common Scheduling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Project scheduling is like the heart of a team, constantly pumping life to maintain a team’s survival and activate everyday functions. But scheduling can be a nightmare, especially for project managers who always juggle multiple things at a time. Mistakes are inevitable, and they are costly to the productivity and quality of a project. In a post for A Girl’s Guide to Project Management, Elizabeth Harrin proposes five common scheduling mistakes that project managers often make:

  1. Not having enough milestones
  2. Not considering resource availability
  3. Not using baselines
  4. Not keeping it current
  5. Not scheduling together

Schedule Maker to Schedule Master

The number of project milestones and where they stand on your plan is up to you. Each person determines his or her personal choice of milestones that fit the project and facilitate the monitoring process of the schedule. However, you need to make sure that milestones are spread evenly throughout the project.

It can be ironic when you build an ostensibly great schedule but no one on the team is there to actually follow it with you: People can be going on vacation, have training courses booked, etc. What you need is a solution for managing time off so you can keep track of everyone’s availability and plan your upcoming tasks. Another mistake that managers often fall for is to not have a schedule baseline in order to compare the current landscape with the standard requirement.

Sometimes, the project can be going well but you still do not make time to update the schedule. This is fine as long as the project stays well, but if something goes wrong and you have to measure its magnitude according to an outdated schedule, the problems will be amplified. Update your schedule regularly to see where you are on the schedule—pick a regular time that works for you and stick to it. Don’t create a schedule and leave it moldy.

About the final mistake, Harrin says this:

When you schedule in isolation you don’t have all the facts.

It’s that simple. You are a project manager; you don’t know what order the servers need to be built in or how long it takes. (Even if you do, you won’t know how long it will take that person to do it this time.)

If you don’t involve your team in the planning, your schedule is basically fiction. No one is committed to anything. No one will trust any of your dates and you’ll have trouble delivering against it.

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