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7 Strategies for Setting Realistic Project Timelines

Here we will go over seven strategies for setting realistic project timelines.

In the business world, one of the worst dilemmas you can come across is missing an important deadline, especially when it involves a third party. Creating projects with realistic timelines is essential to ensuring that a dilemma doesn’t arise.

Let’s jump right in!

1) Define Your Project Goal

Defining your project goal is a structured process that entails pinpointing the exact outcome you wish to achieve. Your project may aim to meet many goals, however, there should be one main objective, such as obtaining a new client, cost reduction, market share growth, or product development. Use the SMART method to create your goal.

2) Break Down the Project

When taking on a large project, it’s best to break it down into smaller, more manageable objectives or goals. This makes it easier to focus your efforts on the project’s fine details and components. Prioritize your goals by importance, deadlines, and dependencies. It can be helpful to delegate specific goal tasks to individuals or teams.

Continuously monitor the progress of these micro-goals and make adjustments as needed. With this strategy, staying on track and within your timeline is more manageable.

3) Factor in Dependencies

Not all tasks can be completed on their own or at random. Some must come before another or simultaneously. Factoring in dependencies will help you develop a realistic and effective timeline.

For example, If you know that you must contact your distributor about product changes before creating new labeling, you know that you should not start your project with label design.

If certain goals must be completed simultaneously, you can use that knowledge to coordinate teams accordingly, that way each team member’s time is being fully utilized.

4) Consider Past Experiences

One of the best teachers is past experience. Spend some time reviewing past projects and use the information to estimate a realistic timeline for your next project.

Some information to review includes:

How long similar projects took- If you have completed similar projects in the past, you can use their timeline as a reference point.

Where previous projects were delayed- Look at previous challenges that caused a delay within your project timeline. Keep those challenges in mind and create a plan to circumvent similar issues.

When goals have been achieved ahead of time- If previous micro-goals have continuously been met ahead of time, you can use that information to determine whether you can afford to take time away from the goal and use it elsewhere. This ensures time and energy are dedicated to the parts of the project that need it most.

5) Talk to Your Team

Your team will be the ones putting most of the project plans into action so it’s important to include them in the timeline creation.

Your team members will have a better understanding of their current workload and how long it will take them to complete additional tasks. Your team members will also have insight into who is best for each role and can give input on the best ways to implement project ideas.

Adding collaboration to your project provides a sense of ownership which will increase your chances of meeting deadlines.

6) Use Task Management Software

A great way to ensure you meet your deadline is by using CRM task management software. These tools are like personal assistants, letting you create tasks, assign them to team members, set deadlines, and monitor progress. Some CRM systems have additional features like reminders, notifications, and a shared dashboard that allows everyone the ability to see project task details.

Task management software makes it easy for management to see the status of each task and ensure they are on track for a timely completion. Accelo offers a CRM system with excellent task management software.

7) Give Yourself Extra Time

No matter how sure you are that your timeline will work, it’s important to add buffer time to account for unforeseen issues.

Sometimes you can work tirelessly on a project, perfect every step of the process, and be on track to complete it on time but something comes up and wrecks your plans. Whether the dilemma is in or out of your control, there may not be much you can do to bring your project back to its original timeline.

Therefore, you should always expect the unexpected. Give your team a buffer time of a few days or even weeks if possible. If your project does not run into any hiccups, then you will be glad to have the extra time to review and fine-tune.


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