How to complete a project on time

If you are thinking about making an application to PMP certificate, you are probably aware of Project Time Management is an important knowledge area. As the name suggests and as it’s defined in PMI certification training, it includes processes required to manage the completion of the project on time.

If you like, you can assess your knowledge about these 7 processes of Project Time Management with sample online PMP exams.

What is the objective of Project Time Management?

In a project, there are many stakeholders, several project team members and also several activities that need to be performed in order to reach the project goals and objectives. It ensures the coordination, sequence and timely completion of project activities to complete the project on time.

What is the output of Project Time Management?

Project Schedule is the major output. The Project Schedule shows the start and end dates of each activity, interrelationship of activities, and overall project start and end dates respectively.

How to complete a project on time

This figure summarizes the scheduling overview. As you see in the right circle, there are lots of project information like WBS, activities, resources, durations, constraints, calendars, milestones, lags, etc. These bulk data provide detailed information on activity level but it needs to be processed to reach a complete project schedule. And to do this, a scheduling method is used. The most popular scheduling method is Critical Path Method which is abbreviated as CPM. CPM method shows the shortest duration to complete all project activities.

In order to use CPM, generally a scheduling tool is used and these are usually computer programs. Most common scheduling tools in the project management world are Microsoft Project and Primavera. These tools help you to enter all project activities one by one, define interrelationship of activities, assign project resources, define calendars etc. and generates the overall project schedule.

How to present the Project Schedule?

Once the project schedule is completed, there are several alternative ways to present. Here, you see 3 common project schedule presentation methods.

How to complete a project on time

Activity list shows a short description of each activity, start and end dates, and assigned resource respectively.

The bar chart shows a short description of each activity and relationships of activities with bars next to each activity.

Network diagram shows each activity as a box and duration of the activity is placed in the box. The interrelationship of activities is shown with arrows.

The 7 Processes of Project Time Management

This knowledge area has 7 processes. Most of the project time management takes place during planning, therefore 6 processes of the knowledge area belong to project planning process group and only one process belongs to Project Monitoring and control process group.

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How to complete a project on time

Processes of Project Time Management Knowledge area are:

  • Plan Schedule Management: Organizing the time planning of the activities of a project.
  • Define Activities: It helps to define the activities that need to be done to perform the project.
  • Sequence Activities: The interrelationship of activities is determined.
  • Estimate Activity Resources: The activity resource estimations are planned.
  • Estimate Activity Durations: The activity resources present their estimations for the activities they are assigned to.
  • Develop Schedule: The information collected during earlier processes are gathered and the overall project schedule is created.
  • Control Schedule: It controls the project schedule against baselines and takes corrective actions and preventive actions to keep the project on track.

Project Time Management is mostly about the relationship of the activities, defining the start and end dates of the activities, creating the project schedule and guaranteeing to end all of the project activities on time.

Time is a major factor in determining the success or failure of a project. Even when you manage to do a wonderful job, deliver high-quality results, and complete the project in half the costs you were assigned, it will all come to naught if the project doesn’t get finished on time.

How to complete a project on time

Project managers are responsible for developing a schedule of work activities. They need to ensure that people are aware of their duties and work is progressing at the right pace to complete and deliver the project objectives on time.

Here are five tips that can be very helpful in organizing work and ensuring that things get done on time.

1. Identify All Relevant Tasks

The manager must identify all the work items, tasks, and processes that are going to be a part of the project. This can be easy to do for repeat or simple projects where activities are straightforward or clear to the manager because they have been performed previously.

For new and complex projects, identifying all the necessary work items can be more difficult. In this case, the project manager must forecast the requirements on the normal and worst-case scenarios so that they can be prepared for environmental risks with contingencies.

How to complete a project on time

Once all the relevant tasks or close approximations for them have been identified, the project manager must answer the following questions.

Q: What is the maximum and minimum length of completion for each task?

Q: Which tasks have the most immediate completion deadline?

Q: Are there any tasks that will have a positive impact on the project, financially or with respect to time, if they are completed early?

Q: Which tasks depend on the full or partial completion of other project activities before they can be started?

Q: Are there any persons on the project who are necessary for the completion of a task? Is this person only available for certain periods of time?

Q: How dependent is the project on external stakeholders, such as subcontractors or material suppliers, for timely completion?

Q: Are there any tasks will reduce the risks for the project once they are completed?

2. Develop a Work Schedule

The project schedule is the main document that identifies when new activities start and ongoing activities finish. It provides direction to the manager for reviewing work processes. It is also used by team members to understand when they are required to start and stop work on the project.

The work schedule also helps the manager prepare the grounds for upcoming work by gathering the necessary resources. It is critical for dividing complex projects into smaller, manageable parts that can be completed one after another.

The schedule creates a roadmap of critical activities that can delay the project, allowing the manager to focus on them on a priority basis.

3. Get Organized

This is where project managers bring all the resources together to complete projects according to schedule. Project organization involves mustering and allocating resources, delegating authority, setting timelines, and communicating with project members.

Project managers can use digital tools and mobile devices to help them stay organized. Staying accessible to team members is important so that they can report on daily progress or ask for guidance on how to complete tasks.

Project team members come with different personalities and work habits. Some project members may need constant pushing and daily work review to ensure things are progressing according to the timeline. Others may not be happy with micromanagement and prefer a more hands-off style of management.

The project manager’s job is to determine what management style is suitable for each stakeholder and then work according to the strengths and weaknesses of each project participant.

4. Create a Project Completion Process

How to complete a project on time

There should be a robust monitoring process for each project task to ensure work is progressing according to schedule. The review can be carried out on a daily basis for short-term projects or on a specific day each week for tasks that can take months to complete.

Once an activity has been finished, it should be checked for accuracy of completion and quality review before proceeding to the next task.

The project manager should assign some time for reviewing progress on each activity and must not neglect the review process in favor of pursuing other tasks. The continuous review process will ensure that you are on top of the different activities for the project.

5. Budget Adjustments

The project budget helps the manager control various activities and resource allocation. Depending on the project, it may be possible to increase budget spending on a task to get it completed sooner and lower spending on another activity to let it progress at a slower pace.

Two major issues related to budgets can cause projects to get delayed. The first involves delays in funds disbursements from the investor or client. If a critical activity requires timely disbursement of funds and the client fails to provide them, then the project manager must inform them about the possibility of a delay.

The project manager must document how the delay in fund disbursement slowed down the whole project and made timely completion difficult.

The second major issue involves project risks. The project manager must create a contingency fund at the onset of the project. The fund is used to expedite project activities in case of unexpected, adverse changes in the environment.

These are our five tips for completing projects on time that can be very useful for project managers. For more tips, please subscribe or get in touch with us to share your views.

How to complete a project on time

The commercial construction sector is continuously expanding all around the world, as globalization increases. Commercial construction ranges from buildings like shopping malls, banks, bakeries to large projects like hotel buildings, skyscrapers, etc. Each type of project has its own specifications and scope, depending upon its size. No matter the type of commercial construction project, its success depends upon meeting deadlines and timely closures.

One of the most common things in commercial construction is delays. There are several factors that may affect construction projects and result in delays, which leads to expensive construction claims and arbitration. But, with proper planning ahead of time and due diligence, you can easily overcome these delays and deliver a successful project.

Top 5 Tips on Completing Commercial Construction Projects on Time

When it comes to commercial construction projects, contractors might find it hard to keep on schedule and meet deadlines. However, with proper planning and the right set of tools, you can ensure that your project meets the deadlines and is successfully delivered.

Here are the top five tips that can help you complete your commercial construction project on time.

1. Clear Contracts and Design Specifications

The most common cause of delay in commercial construction is unclear contracts and specifications of the project. Before taking on the project and starting work, be clear of what your clients want in terms of building design, specifications, and the scope of the project. Get down to the final details like the plumbing system, flooring material, windows, etc.

If you don’t have clear specifications, you will end up with a project deadline that is impossible to achieve. This will result in a number of change orders, which will further delay your project. Therefore, consider consulting a construction delay expert witness when you see the first signs of delays either from your side or the clients.

2. Get Your Budget Approved

After getting all the design specifications and drawings clear, the next thing that needs your attention is the approved budget. After the deadlines, the costs and budget associated with a construction project are one of the most common things that clients and contractors disagree upon. Thus, this whole process is quite time-consuming.

Give your clients a reasonable budget estimate of the project. Include all the costs to make sure they are on board. Work out a general budget and make sure to include room for disruptions that are out of your control like natural disasters, weather, pandemic, etc. Knowing the preliminary budget cost will give your client an idea about what to expect.

3. Hire a Construction Project Manager

After you are done with defining the scope of the project and deciding upon an agreed budget, you need to consult a construction project management company to make sure you stick to your budget and meet all the deadlines. These professionals have skills in planning and coordinating every aspect of your construction project and ensure successful delivery.

In construction, each work is interrelated, and one task can significantly affect the performance of your project. As there are too many tasks to focus on, chances are your project will experience delays. In such cases, a project manager can come in handy as he can keep track of every step of the project and ensure that everything is done on time within the agreed budget.

4. Document Everything

If you want to stay on track and make sure you are meeting all our deadlines, you need to keep track of your daily progress and document everything. Monitoring the daily reports will ensure that you are sticking to your schedule and budget, and also identify any red flags that may cause delays in the future. Proper planning and documentation will help you improve scheduling and identify weak areas where you are falling behind schedule, and that needs your attention right now.

Documentary evidence is essential for defending delay claims successfully. These documents include contracts, pictures, videos, site logs, drawings, etc. So ensure to consult an expert in case of delays to defend your construction claim successfully and minimize the losses.

5. Establish Efficient Communication

Open and efficient communication is the most important factor for staying on track and completing projects successfully on time. Establish procedures and ways for all your team members to alert everyone on the project when and if they are experiencing delays. It will make sure that you have enough time to adjust your overall schedule before these small delays cause hug problems and derail your entire project.

For establishing efficient communication, you need to determine how often you need to conduct meetings with all the parties on-site and clients. This will make sure that you are always updated with your project needs. So you can work early to mitigate the risk of delays in your project. Therefore, make sure you establish good communication. Because it can improve teamwork and lead to higher productivity and collaboration, resulting in a successful project.

Finishing construction projects successfully and on time!

Commercial projects have different needs as compared to residential construction, and it also requires a lot of time and budget. Even a small delay of one day in commercial construction is worth thousands of dollars. Therefore, it is essential to keep track of all things and make sure you hit the deadlines. Construction delays are common in the commercial sector, and they can quickly derail your project delivery. So, follow these simple tips to ensure that you complete your project on time successfully without any setbacks and failures. With proper planning, nothing is impossible!

How to complete a project on time

Project development is an area in which IT managers may use an all lot of tools and services in order to fulfil duties, resolve problems and boost their performance. Rapid Application Development (RAD) is definitely one of them and a choice all IT managers should take under consideration.

We are talking here about a landscape that changes frequently but one thing is, for sure, important to consider in order to achieve success: IT managers must work on minimizing risks and development time while maximizing the progress they make.

Talking about RAD is talking about an iterative and incremental software development process model that emphasizes an extremely short development cycle (between 60 and 90 days). Used for the first time back in 1991, by James Martin, RAD is a method designed for software development, that allows for faster prototyping and iterative delivery of the final product IT managers are working on.

It may be considered as a very good alternative model to the traditional “cascade” model that companies are used to adopt and, in general, focuses on a sequential and not that much flexible development process (see also «Digital Transformation: Low-code Vs Traditional development»).

Rapid Application Development became very popular in the last few years and is already seen as an agile and powerful methodology that really helps IT managers improve their work and, optimize times and get their projects ready on time. Compared to other development models, its most important feature may well be the powerful malleability of process adaptation and the ability to keep evolving.

We are talking here about something that is providing more and more performance each day, for all the users. So, something we should not ignore is that the software developed under this methodology takes real advantage in terms of the ability to adapt and be quickly tested and modified. It is a methodology that facilitates IT managers work, with a high focus on the advantages, such as speed, cost and developer’s satisfaction.

In the era of digitalization and business digital transformation, there are no doubts that RAD has become the main factor of the digital age. But why is this happening?

Customer demands keeps change by the minute and, in order to grant success, business need to create a culture of digital transformation and to take advantage of them and respond adequately, before main competitors do; so, it is why a successful business should be ready to roll out applications and solutions as soon as the opportunity shines out in the market. In order to do so, traditional methods are to slow, so RAD is definitely the answer and the key everybody has been looking for. With RAD is almost as easy for the developer as to pick up some templates and put them together in their app.

It helps to continuously update your applications — responding, this way, to the market demands and factors like legal regulation such as GDPR — with no need to a continuous rewrite of the whole code on the app; on the other hand, RAD improves scalability and mobility, features that are really important these days. Millennials, for instance, want everything available in their phones, no excuses accepted. So, low-code application development makes it simple, for IT managers and developers, just have to build once and let the platform automatically deploy the app across all the devices.

Unlike the traditional methods, developers don’t have to write a different code for each device. All in all, IT managers are working on boosting their business and achieving a better and faster return on investment (see also «4 ways Blue Screen can help you improve ROI with a low-code platform»).

In some European countries like Spain, Denmark, Sweden and UK, Rapid Application Development is already a reality and local organizations — as well as providers and suppliers — are taking advantage of that. For instance, in Madrid, there are a lot of good examples on innovative architectures being applied in order to bring together capabilities — from research, ventures and labs to studios, innovation centres and delivery centres — to develop and deliver disruptive innovations for clients, and to scale them faster.

In this world of Rapid Application Development, OutSystems must be a partner to consider along with Blue Screen. The Portuguese IT company is a reference in this area, but the questions remain: how does OutSystems enable Rapid Application Development?

By being an application platform-as-a-service, or aPaaS, company, their product goes beyond enabling rapid application development by including hosting, dynamic scaling, release automation, performance monitoring, user management, version control, and much more. OutSystems takes the RAD concept even further including out-of-the-box DevOps as part of the platform, elevating RAD concept to Rapid Application Delivery.

But at the core of OutSystems offering lies in a powerful development environment, in which their tool enables everyone from IT-adjacent roles to veteran IT professionals to build enterprise-grade web and mobile applications without code.

OutSystems and Blue Screen are partnering in this area, as Blue Screen’s team uses state-of-the-art technology to create highly professional enterprise apps. Full data and backend integration allow even the most difficult app concepts to be achieved within time and budget.

If you still have doubts, don’t hesitate to learn more about it here or Blue Screen. Our team of specialist will be more than happy to give you a hand and answer to all the questions you may still have.

How to complete a project on time

Organizing teams to consistently meet deadlines is one of the biggest headaches for any project manager. Encouraging a change in approach, along with providing the tools to manage their own time, can help your team boost their productivity and get every project finished on time.

Here are 5 productivity hacks your team can start implementing today:

1. The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro technique is one of the most well-known productivity and time management hacks to teach your team. The method is simple. All you have to do is break down all of your work into short tasks or blocks of time that run for about 20 to 40 minutes, called Pomodoros. After each Pomodoro, you take a short break for a couple of minutes to refresh.

The exact amount of time is up to you. Just make sure it is short enough that you can work with 100% focus for the full Pomodoro. Keeping it to a regular chunk of time like 20 minutes or half an hour also makes it easier to schedule and reschedule your work by moving Pomodoros around.

Breaking work down into these bite-size chunks means you are never more than about half an hour from reaching the next progress milestone. As a result, it is easier to stay focused on the task at hand for the full duration of a Pomodoro, meaning more of the working day is spent working at full capacity, despite also taking more breaks.

2. Shallow Work vs. Deep Work

The level of energy and focus that we have changed throughout the day. Most people get the majority of their work done in the late morning and early afternoon, with their focus starting to wane from that point. Of course, this assumes a regular 9 to 5 schedule, but the same principle applies to any schedule. For many people, the most productive part of the day starts a few hours after they wake up.

Why does this matter?

Not all work requires the same amount of focus. Scheduling work according to the level of attention and mental effort it takes uses your finite daily productivity more efficiently instead of wasting your best work hours on menial tasks.

A great place to start is by dividing tasks into shallow work and deep work. Shallow work is all the tasks that need to be done, but don’t necessarily challenge your skillset or take a lot of focus. Things like data entry or checking routine emails fall into this category. Since they don’t take a lot of energy, these should be handled towards the end of the working day, or scheduled as a short break from more demanding tasks.

Deep work is the opposite. These tasks might take hours of dedicated focus, and the amount of care and attention you put in will have a big impact on the final result. This could be something like creating the content and planning processes to host a webinar. The average person can work at their full focus for 2 to 4 hours a day, usually starting mid to late morning. All of this time should be spent on uninterrupted deep work.

3. Go Offline

How to complete a project on time

Uninterrupted work is central to making the best use of your deep work time. Keeping your team online and available via chat apps and email at all times means they can never fully focus on their tasks.

Video conferencing tools are invaluable in the right situation, such as when working on a collaborative task, or holding a meeting or group planning session. Staying on the call all day can be a distraction and a big productivity killer here when used incorrectly, at least for some.

This does not mean you will be in the dark about what your team is up to, however. Be strict about using status and availability indicators within your team apps so team members always know if they can get a quick response from someone. Daily scheduled availability for contact should be part of every team member’s profile so anyone, even from other teams, can tell at a glance when to expect a reply.

Adopting these practices gives your team more freedom to work in the way they know works best for them while reducing the need for micromanagement. It does introduce a few new concerns, however.

Namely, if your team member is offline and you have an urgent message or an upcoming meeting they can’t afford to forget, how do you reach them? Using internal SMS to send important alerts and reminders can get around this problem. Keep it for urgent alerts and important reminders, however, as using SMS to communicate constantly would defeat the point of enabling offline time.

4. Time Batching

Time batching is easy when it comes to deep work. Since these tasks already often take at least several hours, simply dedicate all of your 2 to 4 hours of deep work on a given day to a single task. If working on the same thing every day saps your motivation, alternate between deep work tasks every day or every other day.

Shallow work is a bit more complicated since it consists of short tasks, which is where time batching becomes useful. It is easy to fall into a habit of handling each bit of shallow work as soon as it pops up, or whenever you can fit it in.

This is not the best approach. It takes time to get up to speed on a task. Switching between work constantly will reduce your productivity and the quality of output on both tasks. This is especially true if you switching between two very different types of work.

Instead, incorporate all of these small tasks into your schedule by grouping them into related batches that can then be scheduled as Pomodoros. This means that instead of stopping and starting with lots of little jobs all day, you can build momentum by turning them into bigger tasks that need the same kind of skills. For example, instead of keeping your email open to quickly fire off replies, try handling all of your communication within a few Pomodoros at the middle and end of the day.

5. Project Planning

How to complete a project on time

Setting clear milestones and progress tracking at the beginning of a project makes it easier to handle a delay as soon as the first signs start to show. This includes not just setting milestones and deadlines for each task, but also clearly mapping out task dependencies where each part of the project is dependent on the progress of other tasks. Creating visual project timelines is a great way to communicate these relationships between tasks to your team in a way that lets them understand their priorities at a glance.

When a delay or scope change occurs, this will enable you to make better decisions about reallocating time and resources. As a result, it will reduce the amount of ‘dead time’ where team members have nothing to do because they are waiting on other milestones.

Conclusion

The right tools and approaches can have a big impact on your team’s productivity. Scheduling a routine that works with the natural ebb and flow of your team’s ability to focus ensures that their finite productivity is spent where it is needed most. Enabling your team to manage their own time in this way takes smart use of project management tools to stay organized, however.

Alexa Lemzy

Alexa Lemzy is a customer support specialist and content manager at TextMagic. She loves to test innovative customer retention techniques and business growth tips. Alexa shares her advice on text messaging and customer service in her articles and tweets @Alexa_Lemzy.

All projects start out with a plan and a budget. But sticking to either is usually one of the biggest challenges and the cause of most failed projects. But, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We just have to go about it the right way. Here are the key items that you need to keep a close eye on to be able to detect problems early.

Keep in Mind:
A project has a beginning and an end

That means month end processing could be a project, but sales wouldn’t be one. Another example is marketing campaigns, they are often seen as projects, but selling the products is not.

Use Earned Value Analysis to Monitor Overall Project Health

Earned Value Analysis (EVA) is a “technique for measuring project performance and progress in an objective manner”, as defined by Wikipedia. What this means is that through EVA, you can integrate the project scope, schedule and cost into your evaluation of the project performance, and accurately forecast project performance issues so that they can be dealt with in a timely manner.

EVA deals with a project’s estimated cost, estimated time of completion, as well as the actualized cost and completion rate as the project progresses.

Learn how to calculate EVA:

Now as a busy project manager, you might not have the time to manually go through these lengthy and involved calculations (especially when you consider the fact that you will have to do these for not only each project but potentially for each task as well). This is not only a time-intensive process, but also one that is prone to calculation errors due to the sheer number of figures involved. This is where Easy Projects’ automated EVA suite may come in handy.

Since Easy Projects calculates SPI and CPI at the task level, it can show you the EVA figures for each individual task, as well as each project. You do not need to lift a finger to be always on top of the performance of your projects. As long as you estimate your hours at the beginning of a project and stay on top of updating your actual time spent, you will have an accurate measure of the health of your projects.

How to complete a project on time

Monitor Tasks on the Critical Path Closely

Every delay in a project is unfortunate and also has a cost attached to it. However, not every delay is created equal. Some delays are more equal than others. This is where critical path planning comes into play.

Critical path is a concept in project management and planning where the sequence of project activities add up to the longest overall duration. This path determines the shortest time possible to complete the project, as all of the activities on this path are necessary for successful completion. Any delay of an activity on the critical path directly impacts the planned project completion date, and therefore costs the project previous resources. This is why the tasks in the critical path need to be monitored very closely for any signs of a problem.

How do you know which activities are part of this all-important group? Despite its power as a project management tool, the critical path is relatively simple to calculate: as a rule of thumb, if a delay in a task is going to cause the whole project to be delayed, it is said to be on the critical path of the project. This is determined by the established dependencies in a project, namely, the relationships that exist between task that affect whether a task can be started (or completed) before the previous task is done.

Easy Projects incorporates the critical path methodology to its project management toolset and allows you to set any task as critical within its Interactive Gantt Chart. This way, you will easily visualize which tasks are critical for your all-important deadline, and never be caught off-guard with unexpected delays due to forgotten dependencies.

Keep Track of Hours

Everything we have discussed in the previous section, and everything we will discuss in the coming paragraphs, will center around one key rule: you have to keep track of your hours accurately, and in a timely manner. We mean “your hours” in the broadest possible sense: if you are a team member, this means the hours you personally work. If you are a project manager, it means the aggregate hours of your project, which involves making sure your team members accurately input their hours as well. If you are an executive, this encompasses your time (if it factors into cost calculations), the time of your project managers, and each and every project they have under them. Time is the one unifying metric in project management, and if you slack off in tracking it, or if there are some small errors along the way, it can compound into a large problem that derails your whole budget.

The best thing you can do for your time tracking efforts is to enforce a strict “daily submission” rule for time logs. This not only helps your time tracking to be up to date, but it also increases accuracy, as team members will be filling in the timesheets when the hours worked, are still fresh in mind, rather than on Friday afternoon when the details of Monday might be fading away to mist.

Once you have the accurate time logs under your belt, your first reaction should be to compare it to the estimated hours for that time frame (be it the day, week, or month) and see how much you have deviated from it (and trust me, you will have deviation, either over or under-budgeted hours, because no one gets estimation 100% right, especially for lengthier projects). These timely check-ins with the project estimates will give you the data you need to act on to either push your team harder or to use the extra hours (if you are under the budgeted hours) to pay close attention to parts you feel might be currently lacking.

One of Easy Projects’ most lauded features is its time tracking module. Not only can your team easily input time and get hours spent reports, you can even use the built-in timer to track your hours in real-time. This way, you click one button when you start working on a task to start the timer, click it again when you are done, and never worry about having to go back and remember the exact hours you spent for any given task.

How to complete a project on time

My background is in software development, a field infamous for delivering the vast majority of its projects over budget. This problem is not limited to just software projects; in fact, most projects are delivered late and over budget. Why does this happen?

The answer is simple: poor project planning.

So how can you ensure that your projects, both personal and business are delivered on time and on budget? How do you learn to anticipate the obstacles, identify the exact goals, and plan for success?

Well, here are 7 simple steps I take to help properly plan my projects. Which have you tried, which do you use, and what can you improve upon?

    • Organize your thoughts
      You have a general idea for a project, but you’re unsure about the specifics. Organize your thoughts and expand your idea to include the details. I use mind maps to organize and expand my ideas because they make it easy for me to share my thoughts with others and because they are a highly flexible organizational tool.
  • Define clear objectives
    This sounds obvious, but there are a large number of people who get an idea and sit down and start working on a project without a clear idea of what they actually want to accomplish.

“ Making a better accounting system ” is not a clear objective; what does that even mean?

Develop specific, measurable objectives instead, such as “develop an accounting system which will automate payroll and reduce our payroll processing overhead by 30%.” Your project won’t have a prayer of being successful or on budget if you don’t have clear, measurable expectations and goals.

  • Do your homework
    You might think you’re the first person to come up with a solution to a specific problem, but are you sure? Is there an existing solution which might suit your needs? Are there some components of your project that can be replaced with cheap, off-the-shelf solutions?

Find answers to these questions before you do anything. If you’re designing a new car, don’t start by reinventing the wheel; incorporate existing solutions into your project where applicable.

  • Build a clear execution plan
    Before you begin working on your project, you need to determine how you’re going to execute your project. Where do you begin? Do you set goals first? Build a team first? Or budget the project first? Figure it out and get a clear idea of when each phase of your project needs to begin. You start building a house by designing it on paper first, not laying a foundation.

Determine each of the steps in your build process and then establish clear deliverables that must be produced before you proceed from one step to another. I use mind maps and Gantt charts to decompose my projects into smaller, more manageable deliverables; I also find that Gantt charts are quite helpful for scheduling my projects in addition to helping me budget them.

  • Establish clear, material deliverables for each step
    Each project should be broken down into deliverables or milestones. Each step in the execution plan for your project should consist of one or more major deliverables to be produced after a reasonable amount of time.

Think of a golf game as a project – rather than try to win the entire game at once, golfers break down the game into 18 holes and break each hole down into a number of strokes. Each hole is a step in the project and each stroke is a deliverable. Tiger Woods doesn’t play each of his strokes thinking about how his current stroke might affect his overall score – he concentrates on making his current stoke the best stroke possible.

When you go about planning your project, you should establish a number of clear, material deliverables for each step. “Complete project research” is not a clear deliverable – its intangible, meaningless fluff. A clear, material deliverable is “produce a report detailing the competitive environment for our target market.”

  • Break down the time required of each deliverable
    Once you break down your project into specific deliverables, the process of budgeting and scheduling a project becomes much easier; the deliverables in your project are small enough to measure accurately. Establish your project’s budget by summing up the time and money to produce each deliverable.
  • Make room for errors
    The most important and easiest step in making sure that your project doesn’t go over budget is budgeting room for error! It’s only a matter of time before something goes wrong with a project; something may take longer than expected, your computer might crash, or you might have to wait on a third party, and so forth.

It’s better to give yourself some wiggle room ahead of time than to apologize to your boss later for going over budget. Identify key areas of your project that are particularly vulnerable to error and make a reasonable assessment for how much extra time and money you are going to need in case an error occurs. Once you’ve done that, simply factor the amount into your budget.

There are millions of articles about managing better projects, but in my experience I’ve found that these seven simple steps offer the best ROI.

If you have other opinions about basic project management concepts then feel free to leave comments below.

Keeping your construction projects on schedule to meet your completion deadline is no easy task. Adverse weather, costly rework, unavailable resources and subcontractor default are just a few of the things that can throw your timeline off course. Damages and penalties for not hitting your deadline can ruin your profit and hurt your construction company’s reputation.

Here are five tips to help you keep your construction projects on schedule and within budget:

Review Plans, Specs & Project Documents

To keep your construction project on schedule, you need to go over every detail of the scope of work. Carefully review and understand the construction drawings, spec book and other project documents. Knowing the project documents like the back of your hand will allow you to craft a better project schedule.

Use site drawings to layout the jobsite for optimal performance by determining placement for material laydown areas, equipment storage, jobsite trailer, break areas, access points for employees, etc. Coordinate with your building project manufacturers and material suppliers to ensure they can deliver the proper quantities of all building materials. Use historical data from past projects to make sure you are allocating adequate times and resources for each activity and task.

Have your subcontractors review drawings and documents relevant to their trades. Provide them with clarification on any inconsistencies or ambiguity in the documents before work begins. This will allow your subs to provide meaningful feedback and insight as they work with you to create a master schedule.

Create & Coordinate a Master Schedule

To deliver your project on time, you need to create a master schedule to guide your project through to completion. Break each project down into phases to manage your project. Phases can then be broken down into tasks which can be broken down further into individual activities.

Scheduling involves assigning estimated start and completion dates for the various tasks and activities. Determine the time required to finish each task or work activity and make sure you can allocate the resources, labor and equipment, necessary to complete them on your scheduled timeline.

Sequence out tasks and trades during each phase of the project. Keep in mind which tasks must happen sequentially and which tasks can be performed concurrently with other tasks. This will allow you to maximize your timeline and complete the project efficiently.

Work with your suppliers to ensure that your materials will be available and delivered when needed. Involve subcontractors to incorporate their schedules into your master schedule to create a smooth workflow among all trades.

Create Contingency Plans

There are so many ways a project can get off track. Carefully review your master schedule and identify potential risks that could disrupt your schedule. Crafting contingency plans that can easily be executed will go a long way in mitigating and resolving issues before they get out of control.

You may need to assign overtime if you are running behind schedule. Weather delays might require you to bring in extra labor and equipment to get your project back on track. Brainstorm possible schedule delays with the rest of the project team and build contingency plans for each situation. You might not need them all, but you will have them ready to go if you do.

Once construction starts, the goal is to make keep the project on schedule as much as possible. Typically, a project will get derailed by lots of minor issues rather than one huge problem. Carefully analyzing daily progress reports, keeping an eye on the budget and schedule and managing risks requires a high level of attention to detail.

Communicate & Collaborate

Good communication is key to staying on schedule and the successful completion of projects. Establish procedures and protocols for your subs to alert you when they are falling behind or experiencing delays. This will allow you to start adjusting your schedule before the issues snowballs into something unmanageable that will cause you to miss your scheduled deadline.

Determine how often, and by what means, information regarding the progress of the project needs to be communicated. When problems arise, work with your subs to troubleshoot issues and resolve delays to keep your project on schedule. Good communication can improve teamwork, lead to better project collaboration and increase jobsite productivity.

Project collaboration is more than just everyone completing tasks on schedule. It involves building a relationship with all stakeholders based on trust and respect, working together to successfully complete a project. Being able to cooperate and coordinate efforts is essential to maintaining your construction schedule.

Sharing ideas and expertise can aid in problem-solving and determining logistics on your project. Collaboration goes hand in hand with good communication and keeping everyone together on the same page. It requires trusting all parties and valuing their input as integral members of the team.

Monitor & Document Progress

Keep track of progress with detailed daily reports. Keep an eye on how closely you are sticking to your schedule. Watch for any red flags that might indicate you are falling behind schedule. Measure how well your actual timeline for completing tasks matches up with your master schedule.

Pay particular attention to areas that ran over or were completed earlier than scheduled. Try and determine the causes of these discrepancies with your master schedule. This allows you to improve your planning and scheduling for future projects and compare this project to past performances on similar projects.

Reviewing daily reports can help you identify aspects of your project where you are falling behind schedule. It’s rare that a project adheres exactly to your master schedule.

As the project progresses, changes to your master schedule will need to be made to meet your deadline. Adjust tasks downstream if necessary and keep subs in the loop to any changes that will impact their work.

About Kendall Jones

Kendall Jones is the Editor in Chief at ConstructConnect. He has been writing about the construction industry for years, covering a wide range of topics from safety and technology to industry news and operating insights.