In the famous words of Benjamin Franklin, the Founder of the United States, “You may delay, but time will not.”
This adage holds value for every field, and the business sector is no exception. When it comes to project-based organizations, managing time becomes even more crucial. It is because poor time management can cause several consequences, including billing losses, unprecedented delivery delays, budget overruns, client dissatisfaction, and more.
So, how can businesses increase the chances of delivering projects on time and within budget?
The key to mastering successful project delivery is effective time management.
It is the process that involves planning, scheduling, and managing projects milestones, tasks, etc., from beginning till the end so that a project is completed within a specific schedule.
This article highlights the importance of project time management and elaborates on the best practices to streamline it.
Why is time management important for project delivery?
Effective time management helps balance the quality, scope, and budget of a project. It also lets you organize and plan the resources time spent on all the project activities.
With a structured schedule, managers can prioritize tasks, manage dependencies and make their team members complete more work in less time. This helps in maximizing the team’s productivity. Most importantly, it increases the likelihood of completing and delivering the project as scheduled.
However, poor time management practices can negatively impact the project, causing missed deadlines, budget overruns, resulting in delays or failure. It can further lead to client dissatisfaction and loss of reputation. Therefore, following a robust time management strategy is crucial to avoid these consequences and ensure timely project delivery.
Given the importance of time management, read on to explore some of the best strategies managers can use to keep projects on track.
Best Practices for Time Management
It is critical to align all project activities in a planned way. Here are a few standard and proven practices that you can follow to better time management:
Create a precise and detailed project plan
An effective project plan marks its successful delivery. It helps the manager regularly monitor and track the project’s progress for timely completion and within budget. Therefore, project managers mustn’t rush through it and take time and effort to create it meticulously.
They should discuss and determine all the constraints, including time, budget, scope, resources, risks, and quality. They should also define milestones, deliverables, and contingency plans at the time of project planning. However, one should also avoid dedicating excessive time to project planning. It is because it will leave little time for the actual project execution, resulting in overlooking critical aspects, delivery delays, and more.
Raise resource requests well in advance
Project managers often raise resource requests at the eleventh hour. These last-minute resource requests leave the concerned resource manager with insufficient lead time to provide the required resources. Thus, it becomes challenging for managers to find the right resources for the project at such short notice, delaying its onset. They may also end up allocating incompetent or over/underqualified resources leading to budget overshoots, sub-optimal deliverable quality, timeline overruns, etc.
So, to combat this, project managers should estimate and initiate resource requisition timely. It will give the resource manager enough lead time to assess skill requirements and assign the best-fit resources to the projects. This will also help them identify resource shortfalls and implement resourcing measures, including upskilling/training programs or hiring a permanent/contingent workforce to fill the gaps. This way, one can eliminate the last-minute firefighting of resources and prevent wrongful hiring and delivery delays.
Ensure timely and competent resource allocation
Allocating best-fit resources to the project at the right time directly contributes to successful project delivery. It also helps the resource manager achieve a 100% fill rate by fulfilling the demand before the start date.
Using a resource management tool, the resource manager can get 360-degree visibility of resources, their schedules, and current and future allocations. They can further expedite their search by filtering the resources by various parameters like cost rate, charge out rate, competency level, location, etc. It, thus, becomes easier to make the best decisions regarding the deployment of resources to projects based on resource demands.
Delegate and outsource excess work to prevent delays
Despite a meticulous project plan, things may not always go as planned. Reasons like sudden absence/unplanned attritions, client’s change requests. etc., can hinder the project’s flow. While project-specific hiring can help accommodate resource absences and attritions, it sometimes can spike the project budget.
In such cases, outsourcing and delegation of non-critical tasks can help. It relieves the experienced resources from the burden of low-priority tasks, freeing up more time to focus on critical and complex tasks. Further, it also saves the cost of hiring resources for one-time demands and prevents unnecessary project delays.
Ensure regular tracking and timely completion of tasks
Once the project plan is ready, its execution follows. Project managers, at times, fail to track the tasks planned in real-time effectively. Consequently, they miss out on identifying risks early on and mitigating them before they become issues. It, in turn, results in delays at various stages of projects.
Therefore, to combat this, project managers can track all the tasks, milestones, etc., if they are going as planned and get complete visibility into potential issues. They can focus more on the timely completion of critical tasks that can directly affect the timeline while allowing some flexibility on slacked tasks.
Given the best time management practices, let’s see how a resource management tool can help with it.
How can resource management software help to perfect time management?
Saviom’s resource management tool provides enterprise-wide visibility of resources. Using that, the manager can identify the resources with matching skillsets for every project. It, thus, prevents the allocation of over/under qualified resources responsible for causing delays or project cost escalations. It also provides various business intelligence reports that assist in informed decision-making.
The capacity-vs-demand report helps predict resources’ excess or shortage ahead of time and use appropriate internal or external channels to fill the gaps. It can help avoid delays caused by the shortage of resources and achieve timely project delivery.
The forecast-vs-actual report provides the variance of the actual time taken to complete tasks from the initial estimates. Thus, ensuring better adherence to delivery deadlines. Utilization reports also provide oversight of the utilization levels of resources, enabling managers to optimize and meet established project deadlines.
Time is a crucial aspect of every project and must be managed judiciously and effectively. While project managers often consider project time management an uphill task, it is always achievable. When leveraged with an appropriate tool, the proven strategies discussed above can help you ensure timely and successful project delivery.