Do You Schedule Time to Stay on Top of Project Plans?

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Categories: Scheduling

Scheduling time to execute your work is one thing. But project managers should also schedule time for scheduling.

Setting aside a block of time each week lets you review your project plan, timelines and pre-requisites. It also lets you gauge whether you're still on track with deliverables and if you must make any necessary tweaks to your plan. I review all of the planned activities at least a week out and make sure everything is aligned to execute those activities.

I recommend creating a two-month view of the project, no matter what the size. With that in place, it's a matter of confirming that you're still on target.

At the end of each day, schedule an additional 15 to 20 minutes to look at the next day's schedule. I make sure all the meetings and activities that my team is managing are well-planned, scheduled and confirmed.

It may seem tedious but spending time on scheduling will help ensure you stay on top of your plan and know that it's on track.

Do you schedule time for your planning? Is it worth it?
Posted by Dmitri Ivanenko PMP ITIL on: April 11, 2011 12:47 PM | Permalink

Comments (8)

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Eduardo Gonzalez Loumiet
Wonderful post. I follow a similar approach. I spend 30 minutes a day to review all projects I am involved in. This then helps me schedule meetings and conference calls for the week. It also helps me remind team members of activities due that week.

Francis Cann
Waiting to the end of the day to update plans leaves us with the excuses of the hurried life and the family needs us.

I believe the plan needs to be updated as we are interfacing with the person providing the status (spend the time then that you would have spent at the end of the day if you had carved it out of your schedule).

The view that you want is the one from the Project Manager's position. What I fear you may be doing is finding yourself moving below the pinnacle to a position of doing versus managing. If that happens you will not have a wide view to see the big picture. If you can't see the big picture, you don't know if you are in the right jungle and that you are making progress.

I know that losing sight can happen to the best of us. You have to keep reminding your self what your primary function is. You are managing the project to keep the project on plan. Your team members are the tools to do the work while you are their leader.

As their leader you should be keeping them on course and adjusting the speed to complete the journey. If you chose to take on a work task that someone else should have done, that is what you need to do at the end of the day. You should do the work with the person who was supposed to do it. This way they can feel your pain of not going home to your family and them to theirs.

You get better at explaining from the beginning what and how you want something done. You get better at making sure they understand what you want. You get better at writing job descriptions because you know what goes into doing the job. You get better at hiring the right person for the job because you don't want to have to do someone else's job. You get better at holding people accountable because if you did everything else correctly, the person responsible to get it done needs to own it. The team needs it done and that person was paid to do it.

I hope this helps you get home to your family on time more often.

Craig Hanson
I would personally recommend that you keep the schedule open *all the time* allowing you to continually 'massage' the project into shape. You'll very quickly get used to the concept of the project scheduling tool being your project management 'friend' rather than your 'master'.

Your schedule will progress through a continual improvement maturity curve, from being a simple work breakdown structure, through to a reliable calculator of delivery dates. The more time you spend on it, the more reliable it becomes.

Breno Barreto Machado
Interesting point about planning time to monitor the project. I usually just lay the milestones for monitoring the project period and meetings with staff or clients.

I set aside time on the agenda, but outside the planning of the project, where I evaluate the progress of the schedule and check the progress. On the day planned for monitoring, then revise the schedule and other project documents.

Maybe one day add to the schedule these times.

Marlon A. Frando
Spending time on scheduling is not an option. Rather it's an indispensable collaborative effort that must be performed by the project team to set the project course on track.

Once the project plan is established, there will be a lot of work during the execution stage. Taking into account the project schedule alone, controlling the project performance — whether the data will be above or below the project baseline at a given time of the project duration — will entail a lot of controlling the schedule in an iterative process as the project progresses.

It's the only way.

Ramon Silva
It's a nice advice. Nowadays, managing four projects, where two of them are very critical, I set aside about 30 minutes everyday to see if we are on schedule or not.

I had the "opportunity" of not doing this, and the result was terrible. Once I had this experience, I check-up the schedule everyday.

Jon Terry
Have you tried Kanban? Let the teams manage their own detailed level tasks via a physical or (better yet) electronic Kanban system. You can focus on higher-level integration schedule, priorities and risk management. And nobody has to suffer through the 'what percent complete are you?' conversion. You just look at the Kanban board.

Mark Topham
Interesting post. I have to admit that I have never thought about it like this, but it is something I never seem to have enough time for.

I think I will make a conscious effort to build time in now rather than it being a retrospective activity, I'll make it more a living breathing thing.

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