Stripping Project Management to Its Core: Time Management Planning Simplified

I want to continue our series on stripping project management to its core, with an article which tries to summarize time management planning in a series of simple questions. Answering them should give you enough information to create a good project schedule. Lets go through these questions and see if they make sense.

What is the best order of things?

Look through the drawings created during scope planning. Take all the elements you agreed to deliver as part of your project scope and start formulating the order of how things will be done. You don’t necessarily need to get this done 100% correct at this stage. It is enough to put all the elements on “paper” and go through the next few questions.

Who will do what?

Once you know what needs to be done and most (if not all) the activities for each item that needs to be delivered, you need to clarify who will deliver what. Having this conversation will reveal additional activities that you were not aware at the beginning and possible a new set of constraints. This is definitely a good conversation to have before starting to execute the project.

How much will it take?

Now that you know what needs to be done and who will do it, you need to get clarity on how much time everything will take. Take each activity, analyze it with your team and discuss its duration. This conversation will also have healthy results: it will help you identify false assumptions, additional constraints and bring further clarity to project team members.

Draw it

Drawing what you need & want to deliver during scope planning is a very good exercise. Drawing your schedule, based on the answers to the previous three questions, is critical. Something not to be missed. Even if you have a simple project to manage, you should at list draw a diagram showing all the activities, in their appropriate order. For any project that has a bit of complexity, having a schedule created is a big helper in tracking what goes on during project execution.

What’s top priority & what is flexible?

The next question should be a familiar one to all project managers with some degree of experience. Being clear on your critical path and your top priority activities, is critical to a good execution of the project. Sharing the priorities with the whole team and making sure people understand them, brings you step closer to success.
Also, knowing the activities where you have some degree of flexibility when it comes to their execution date, can be very helpful in tough situations.

Your feedback!

In this article I did not try to write all the questions that can help you create a great plan.Only the ones which are truly mandatory and good enough to create a schedule for most projects. If you agree or don’t agree with them, don’t hesitate to share your opinion below. For more articles in this series, check out the recommendations below.

Related content:

Stripping Project Management to Its Core: Cost Management Planning in Three Questions
Stripping Project Management to Its Core: Evaluating Project Risk with a Few Questions
Stripping Project Management to Its Core: Planning Happiness

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