Wedding ceremony timeline template, A project timeline is a fundamental component in any good project management strategy. But as many management consultants have discovered the hard way, creating and sticking to a deadline isn’t as easy as it sounds. Depending on the type of consulting engagement, many project elements – from individuals to engineering to operational and market variables — may create unexpected complications and delays, quickly throwing a job off-track.
Initially, developing reliable timelines can be challenging. If you’ve ever started a consulting job with a program beforehand, only to experience reverses that push your project off-schedule, committing to a deadline may feel to be an exercise in futility. But if your timeline is only a rough estimate, it’s still a helpful tool for time management preparation. It provides your customer a visual aid for understanding the way the project will flow, and demonstrates that you have a clear vision of the measures that have to happen to attain particular project milestones. And, it may protect you against control consulting liability by helping you educate your client about the impact of potential project delays that are outside of your control.
When estimating the necessary time to accomplish each step, speak to the people who’ll be involved, and realistically consider the amount of time each individual has the capacity to devote to the project. Clearly define any job components for which the customer’s team members are responsible, and set deadlines for accomplishing those tasks. Involve the stakeholders in setting these dates, and gain their devotion that they can meet the deadlines. Since you continue to employ timelines to track your projects, it will become easier to create future project timelines. Continually monitoring your progress against your timelines gives you historic project management data which will allow you to estimate the time necessary for future management consulting jobs.
One way to help make sure that you stick to your timeline would be to build in a little additional wiggle room. By way of example, you might decide to develop two timelines: one for your own usage, with more positive deadlines, and another, together with later deadlines which you share with your customer. Then, when you hit your very own internal deadlines, you actually come out ahead of schedule at the customer’s eyes. This project management 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’ll want to adapt your project deadline. It typically occurs when you or other group members run into something you didn’t expect, including an insurmountable technical glitch, funding reductions, operational restructuring or employees turnover. It can also occur when client priorities change mid-stream due to changing marketplace conditions, or when the client realizes that what they have asked for represents just a small part of a larger goal. By creating a realistic project timeline, and monitoring progress against it as part of a general project management plan, you are more likely to keep your management consulting project on-time and on-budget. Even in the event that you fall behind, a deadline gives you a convenient and remarkable tool for keeping your client informed of progress as well as the reasons for any flaws. And an educated and informed customer is more likely to be a loyal client.