Workflow timeline template, A project timeline is a central element in any good project management strategy. But as many control consultants have discovered the hard way, making and sticking to a deadline isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. Depending on the form of consulting participation, many job elements – from individuals to engineering to operational and market factors — may create unexpected complications and delays, quickly throwing a project off-track.
To start, talk with your customer to specify the major project milestones that have to be accomplished during the course of the job. Take advantage of these landmarks as the building blocks of your project timeline. After that, think about the measures that have to take place to get from point A to point C, B, D etc – and the logical order in which each step must be performed. Think about what task has to be achieved in order to start the next. If multiple tasks can be achieved at the exact same period, chart them in parallel. If finishing one job entails multiple sub-tasks, it may require a small timeline of its own.
The more experience you gain in working with timelines, the easier it will become to create them. Be sure to continuously track your progress against your timelines, and notice the cause of any job delays. You can review the resulting historical project management data when estimating time for future marketing consulting jobs, producing your job management system more efficient and accurate with every undertaking.
One way to help ensure that you stick to your timeline is to build in a little additional wiggle room. For example, you might opt to create two timelines: one for your own usage, with more positive deadlines, and another, together with later deadlines that you discuss with your customer. Afterward, when you hit your very own internal deadlines, you actually come out ahead of schedule at the customer’s eyes. This job direction method helps compensate for less-than-perfect quotes and unforeseen events.
However hard you try to keep a project on track, the simple fact isthere are situations when you will need to accommodate your project deadline. It typically occurs when you or other team members encounter something you did not anticipate, including an insurmountable technical glitch, funding cuts, operational restructuring or personnel turnover. It can also occur when client priorities change mid-stream due to changing market conditions, or when the customer realizes that what they have requested for represents only a small part of a bigger goal. By producing a realistic project timeline, and monitoring progress against it as part of an overall project management strategy, you’re more inclined 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 impressive tool for maintaining your client informed of progress and the reasons for any flaws. And an educated and informed customer is more likely to be a loyal customer.