Timeline graph template, A project timeline is a central element in any good project management strategy. But as many control consultants have learned the hard way, creating and sticking to a deadline is not quite as simple as it sounds. Depending on the type of consulting engagement, many job elements – from people to technology to operational and market factors — can generate unexpected complications and delays, quickly throwing a project off-track.
To start, speak to your client to define the significant project milestones that have to be accomplished during the course of the project. Use these landmarks as the building blocks of your project timeline. Then, think about the measures that have to take place to get from point A to point C, B, D etc – and also the logical order in which each step must be performed. Think about what task must be accomplished in order to begin the following. If multiple tasks can be accomplished in precisely the exact same time, chart them . If finishing a single task entails multiple sub-tasks, it might require a small timeline of its own.
When estimating the necessary time to accomplish each step, speak to the people who will be involved, and realistically think about the amount of time each person has the capacity to commit to the project. Clearly define any project components for which the client’s team members are accountable, and set deadlines for accomplishing these tasks. Involve the stakeholders in placing these dates, and gain their commitment they can meet the deadlines. Since you continue to employ timelines to monitor your endeavors, it will become easier to create potential job timelines. Continually tracking your progress against your timelines gives you historic project management data which can allow you to estimate the time required for future management consulting projects.
One approach to help ensure that you stick to your timeline is to build in a little extra wiggle room. By way of example, you might decide to develop two timelines: one for your own usage, with more optimistic deadlines, and yet another, with later deadlines that you share with your customer. Then, when you reach your own internal deadlines, then you really come out ahead of schedule in the client’s eyes. This job direction method helps compensate for less-than-perfect estimates and unforeseen events.
No matter how hard you try to keep a project on track, the fact isthere are situations when you will need to accommodate your project timeline. It typically happens when you or other team members encounter something you didn’t anticipate, such as an insurmountable technical glitch, budget cuts, operational restructuring or employees turnover. It can also occur when client priorities shift mid-stream because of changing marketplace conditions, or when the client realizes that what they have requested for represents just a small part of a bigger goal. By creating a realistic project timeline, and monitoring progress against it as part of a general project management strategy, you’re more likely to keep your management consulting project on-time and on-budget. Even in the event that you fall behind, a deadline provides you a convenient and impressive tool for keeping your client informed of progress and the causes of any delays. And an educated and informed customer is more likely to be a loyal client.