July 12, 2018
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Step by Step Guide for Creating and Managing Team Deadlines
We all know the struggle of time management, but the more people you are keeping track of, the more difficult the task becomes. Project management is all about making sure your team is on task and on time. To help you plan your next project, here’s a step by step guide to creating and managing team deadlines.
- Start big and work backwards.
When you’re first thinking through everything you need for a project, it’s tempting to start at the very beginning so you don’t miss any steps. Here’s the thing though: while that can work fine for some, it’s best to start at the end and then work your way backwards. Focus on deciding your main goal. What does your finish line look like? If it’s the total completion of a website or app, that’s a big finish line! You don’t need to have a deadline just yet, but keep this end goal in mind throughout planning. Knowing exactly where you want to end up, measured as a specific and attainable objective, is necessary to plan out each step. Without knowing exactly what you want to accomplish, how can you plan out all the little details to get there?
- Decide on milestones.
These are going to be points in your project that mark the completion of a large portion of work, but aren’t the end of the line. If you’re building a website for example, completing your homepage will be a separate milestone from completing your pricing or company information pages. Again, you’re starting very big, and then slowly narrowing down sections of the project.
- Create the steps for each milestone.
Do you need someone to design a page and then code it? Do you have specific widgets you want or perhaps an interactive section where users can choose between several tabs? It’s now time to get to the nitty-gritty! This stage of planning will take the longest, but don’t get discouraged. Use the milestones you’ve chosen to help keep you on track, and plan out the detailed tasks for each milestone one at a time.
- It’s time for time estimates!
Now start estimating time for each task, milestone, and then the final project as whole. Don’t forget to add extra buffer time in as well – every project has surprises that take longer than expected. Adding a little more time to complete each milestone will mean that you have accounted for any issues or surprises, and can still remain on track for your deadline. Don’t add in the extra time all at the end; space it out to make the best use of it!
- Lastly, make a full timeline.
This should be an outline for the entire project with as much detail as possible: estimated deadlines, milestones, and all specific tasks that need to be accomplished. This should be given to all team members and then reviewed together so everyone is on the same page. This is also a great time to check out task management software for your team, that way you can easily create and check off tasks as they’re completed. If you’re not able to use any software, at least create a spreadsheet on Google Drive or a similar cloud platform. With a large project it’s easy to end up with duplicate spreadsheets of notes and timelines as different people update their own. Keep it simple by using one document that your team can all edit together.
While planning out the steps of your project can seem daunting, starting with a strong foundation actually gives you more flexibility later on. You’ll know exactly where you’re headed, and will have already planned time for any surprises along the way.
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