Soon after being appointed to a project, as the Project Manager, you’ll quickly establish the work to be done and can then start to consider how long the different tasks will take; and what will be a realistic target date for the project completion. Using a network diagram, like a Gantt Chart will be vital in this planning process, letting you see the start and end dates for the tasks and arranging them so as to make sure that vital tasks always take priority over more minor ones.
Having a Gantt Chart is essential so as to avoid the more important tasks overlapping. Appreciate and understand now that there are some tasks that must be completed before another one begins. The reason for this is, of course, that the resources used in an ongoing task may well be the same as are needed for the next phase or task. So, unless you want to go to the expense of doubling up on particular resources, be they equipment or manpower, then by getting your dates right – you can avoid unnecessary expenditure. Having said that, there’s no reason why non-critical tasks can’t be allowed to overlap the more important ones – providing they don’t pull resources unduly away from the more important ones.
Don’t be gung-ho on dates.
OK, so you’re the PM, you’ve got your plan on your Gantt Chart – that’s it all the dates are set and everyone can get on with their work? No! Don’t be gung-ho with your dates, remember the human side of being a Project Manager and always make sure that the dates you’ve arrived at, through your Project Management software, are agreed on by the rest of your team. That doesn’t mean to say that you have to change all your dates according to each team or departments whims – but at the same time listen to any comments they make about your time plan. For example, a specialist on the project team might be able to advise you, based on experience, if a time phase you’ve allowed is realistic or not. Also, don’t forget to allow space for vacations, training and even for staff being off sick.