Meeting project deadlines can be challenging for any company and IT team. Whether it’s scope creep, poorly estimated timelines, or illnesses within your staff, there are plenty of things that can go wrong with a project. Missing project timelines can be expensive and potentially damaging to the reputation of your company. This is why we put together the following tips to help you meet your project timelines.
What is Expected of You?
The most important first step to ensuring that your team reaches deadline for a project is to clearly define the scope of work and requirements at the beginning stage. Before you can estimate how long a project will take, you need to have a firm understanding of what is expected. Don’t be afraid ask questions and get all of the details. The details can be critical for understanding the volume and depth of the steps that are required to complete the project.
Get it in Writing
Once you have this information, make sure you write it down. This will allow all team members, as well as overseeing managers, a chance to review the scope of work and make changes before the start of the project. It is good to have an agreement where all parties understand exactly what is expected of each team member involved in the project.
Break it Down
Once you have a clear understanding of what is expected, you can then break down the project to its milestones and individual tasks. Once you have the individual tasks, estimate how long each one will take. Tip: make sure you give yourself some extra time and pad each milestone a little. Changes and unforeseen complications are bound to occur, especially in technology development, but IT projects affect other departments and these other departments will need to be told a deadline date so that they can plan their own projects accordingly. By padding each milestone you will increase the likelihood of meeting expectations.
When is it Due?
Once you have identified how long each milestone will take your team, estimate a final due deadline date. This date is important for other departments, who are depending on the completion of the project, a solid timeframe to look forward to. It will also give your team a goal to work towards and you will be able to communicate on a daily bases if your project is on schedule or running behind.
Focus, Focus, Focus (on the Task)
Once the project work is started, make sure you track each task individually and monitor when it has been completed. This will allow you to know when certain pieces of the project are taking longer than expected. By focusing on individual tasks, you will keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed by the overall complexity of the project.
During each milestone of the project, communication is key. You can establish a communication plan at the beginning of your project so that everyone knows when you will be communicating with them. By keeping them in the loop you can greatly increase your chances of success.
Don’t Over Commit Your Resources
Make sure you don’t over commit your resources whether it be employees or outsourced freelancers. In the case of freelancers, keep in mind that many work for other companies and will need some flexibility in their scheduling. Keep this in mind when you are developing the overall timeframe of the projects deliverable deadline.
Overtime – As a Last Resort
If for some reason your project misses a, deadline because of poor planning or other factors out of your control, it may be necessary to for participants to work overtime. This could lead to additional costs, and even burnout of team members which can then lead to mistakes in development…which means more work overall and the risk of not making the final deliverable deadline.
Staying on timeline during a project is critical. IT project deadlines affect other departments and the company as a whole. Most of the time, missing deadlines can be avoided with the tips listed above. It is important to properly document projects so that you can learn which tasks took longer than expected, and what type of unforeseen obstacles occurred. This way you can plan the next project better and increase efficiency within the IT department.