Project Timeline – How To Manage Big Projects
How to develop complex project timelines. Have you ever managed a complicated project with a tight project timeline? If you have, you’ll know the importance of establishing a project timeline from the start and sticking to it. It’s vital for the project’s success. Perhaps, you just started on a new job that entails … Continuedget in touch
Project Timeline – How To Manage Big Projects
How to develop complex project timelines.
Have you ever managed a complicated project with a tight project timeline?
If you have, you’ll know the importance of establishing a project timeline from the start and sticking to it. It’s vital for the project’s success.
Perhaps, you just started on a new job that entails project management and your boss has asked you to compose a timeline for the new project you are taking on board.
Let us assist you with this, in the below article, we will cover the basics of creating a timeline, from an agency’s point of view.
A project timeline is essential for successful project management.
A well-prepared and detailed project timeline the key to success. It allows you to clearly outline milestones in the project and stick to them.
If the client doesn’t have a strict deadline – create one.
Having a timeline will help you keep the project running in an organised manner and avoid scenarios where everything is becoming delayed in an endless state of limbo.
First – determine the final deadline for the whole project to be completed – a hard “drop dead” deadline.
From there, you will start working backwards, allowing a reasonable amount of time for each stage.
Website project example – break your project apart.
Let’s take a website development project as an example. Let’s say today is 21 September and your client needs to launch and go live with their new website by 16 November. This gives you 8 weeks for the whole project.
Start breaking the project a-part.
Make sure you have a detailed brief and you have covered off all the questions in a reversed brief. This will ensure all project aspects will be accounted for and will minimise the need for extra information or further clarification.
First, the project will go to the design studio, if you don’t have the experience with this, talk to the studio. Show them the brief and ask them what is a realistic timeline to produce the finished designs. Make sure to include some rounds of changes, the number of changes will vary depending on the agency.
Once you’ve sent your questions to the design team, do the same with the development team. Find out how long they need to build this site and test it. Creating minor milestones is an excellent way to identify how long each department will need for each phase of development.
Allow time for client testing and feedback as well, as this is an important part of all website projects.
Creating the project timeline
Once you have the answers from all the different departments involved, compose the project timeline starting from the end date.
Start with giving yourself some buffer, instead of giving the real deadline to the developers, give them 3-4 days earlier (just in case – it does often come in handy)
23 September – Hand over all the content and required assets to the studio – begin work
Design stage milestones
These will vary depending on the complexity of the project. We’re basing this on a simple website design and the usual work speed of our designers. Talk this through with your design team and get it approved by them before sharing with your client.
- First proof – 29 Sept (allowing a good 5 days for the first proof) Note – if the design needs concept work, this should be its own stage before the design stage and will require its own revisions.
- Client feedback – 1 Oct
- Second proof – 2 Oct
- Client feedback – 5 Oct
- Final Art – 7 Oct (we suggest you leave a buffer day here, just in case).
7 October – handover from design studio to development
Development stage milestones:
- First look and internal testing – 21 Oct (allow a week for internal testing and communication between web developers and the studio to provide and fix up any internal feedback)
- First look + share with client – 28 Oct
- Client feedback – 3 Nov (Allow another week here for the client to go through the website properly and provide all their feedback)
- Actioning feedback between 3 – 6 Nov
- Soft launch + testing – 6 Nov
- Hard launch + testing – 10 November
11 November – Project complete and tested – deadline with secret buffer included. (Do not share this with the client)
16 November – actual hard deadline. (Do not share this with the developers)
Do you see what I did there?
Sometimes it is a good idea to be a bit sneaky and snuggle in some buffer days in between milestones, or give earlier deadlines to different departments. This helps provides a safety-net in case something goes wrong.
The time you ‘think’ you have to complete a job can often be misleading, especially with big projects. It seems like you have a lot of time, but when you break them apart like this and configure a detailed timeline, you will see that actually you need to make things happen quite quickly.
In this scenario, You would need to send this timeline to the client immediately, and confirm that they are able to provide all the website content to you in two days (by 23 September)
If the client has delayed their milestones, or if any unexpected difficulties emerge, you need to be able to leverage and push back on the deadlines. If you aren’t making the client aware of the delays and why they’re happening – when the job isn’t delivered on time the client will blame you. You have been transparent from the start, and no-one can blame you for not being diligent about your project.
Now all there is left is to follow it through!
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