Project Scheduling: Leave Time for the Important Stuff

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Project Prioritization Steps

Before you can truly prioritize a business initiative, you have to know the cost and how it will meet business requirements, among other criteria.

Ensuring that a project schedule is realistic is the first, and most important, step in ensuring that your project does not crash. If the schedule is pie-in-the-sky or is not built to respond to what surely will be numerous unexpected events, you are in for trouble.


Our partners at project management community site collected a few common-sense tips on building realistic timetables in the Normalizing a Project Schedule Presentation, which IT Business Edge members can access for free here in the IT Downloads library.


The four-page PowerPoint offers quick tips about scheduling critical tasks and non-critical tasks, as well as general resource assignment.


A few pearls of wisdom:


After individual assignments are finalized and reviewed by the project team, adjust the schedule to accommodate any other necessary changes. The bottom line is that you have to expect the project team to push back on your estimates-sometimes justifiably so. Be ready to adjust.


Schedule all non-critical tasks at the earliest date possible, thus providing a way to free up resources earlier for other projects or later critical tasks. Get the non-critical stuff - which always seems to be the most predictable, as well - out of the way so as the launch date draws near you will be able to call all hands on deck to meet critical needs.


If one unique resource commands first place in your project, you must make your schedule conform to its availability. No way around that! There are stars in every organization. Be ready to schedule around that reality.


If you are finding yourself facing scheduling and task-assignment headaches, you might also want to check out Project Management Fundamentals, a 17-page PDF from project manager and author Deji Badiru. The helpful guide walks you through the basic five-phase approach to formal project management, as well as the variances between project-level and activity-level planning. The guide also addresses the constant stress between time, quality and cost, which when you get right down to it is what creating a successful schedule is all about.

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