Time management for Project Managers (PMs) is an important but widely misunderstood skill. Projects rarely go exactly to plan, so understanding how to effectively prioritize and solve problems will save you valuable time. This blog will show you how you can make the most of the time available to you.
The plan is the foundation of your project – it has a huge effect on a project’s efficiency and productivity. Your plan should outline what you’ll achieve, with what resources, and by when – making it a crucial element to time management.
Estimating how long certain tasks will take can be difficult. If too little time is allocated to completing a task, the team won’t be able to complete it. If too much time is allocated, the team won’t have enough work. To properly allocate time, you need to:
- Identify the type of work and how much work overall the project requires
- Identify which tasks will require the most time
- Break the largest tasks into smaller subtasks
- Assign subtasks to relevant resources with suitable skills
It’s easier to create smaller tasks within a project in order to track progress. This also improves the amount of control you have over the workloads of individual resources.
Plan for disruptions
It’s also important to allow time for mistakes and disruptions. A change in budget or resources is almost inevitable, and the faster you can adapt to this change, the less likely your project is to be affected. To gain greater control over your project, you should create a flexible project plan that allows you to easily reallocate resources when circumstances change. Accurate resource data is critical to good time management – it’s the best way for PMs to understand what they can realistically achieve.
Project efficiency can be affected by poor scheduling. If workers aren’t clear about their workloads, this can lead to mistakes: the same work being done multiple times or not being done at all. An optimal distribution of resources is vital to a watertight project schedule. Your project plan should ensure that resources are allocated optimally. But how should you decide which tasks to prioritize?
Dependencies help PMs understand which order tasks should be completed in. Some tasks must be performed sequentially, with one task beginning after another has ended. But others can be done simultaneously. For instance:
- Task 1 is generating a form. Task 1 is getting that form signed. Therefore, task 1 must be completed before task 2.
- Task 1 is generating a form. Task 2 is generating a document. Task 1 and task 2 can be worked on at the same time.
Understanding the necessary sequence of work will help you identify times when resources can be better allocated.
It’s important to prioritize the tasks that will have the biggest impact on your project. The Pareto principle states that 20% of the input creates 80% of the result. Examine the tasks within your project which will generate the most benefit. With these high-value tasks prioritized, you’ll be able to deliver project success faster.
Avoid scope creep
Projects might be created with specific goals in mind, but they often fall victim to scope creep. This refers to the gradual expansion of a project through unplanned work. Gradually making changes to a project plan will cause the objectives to become confused, which can derail your plan. If you change how resources are deployed, or create extra work mid-project, it will cause your project to overrun or go over budget. Project goals should be decided before you start work to avoid scope creep and agree the project deliverables with stakeholders.
Thorough planning should always include a risk management strategy. Your project may fall prey to unseen issues, and if it does, you’ll need to be able to rescue it. To prepare for changes to your project, you’ll need to run scenarios based on changes to your resources or budget: preparation will help you mitigate the impact. It’s easier to avoid risks when you understand their potential causes, so this preparation will save you time in the long run.
Risk prevention also requires excellent project monitoring. You should pay close attention to how your project is progressing, and particularly how your resources perform, to stay alert for any potential issues. To reduce the amount of time you spend pursuing project updates from workers, create a database where you can oversee project details from a granular level. Your project portfolio should give you real-time updates, allowing you to easily track your project data.
Taking control of time management with Tempus Resource
Time management is an ongoing skill that PMs are always trying to master. Different methods may benefit different projects, but one aspect that never changes is the need for powerful and intelligent resource management tools.
Tempus Resource is the resource management application that gives PMs the intelligent insights they need. Pursuing efficiency and better time management is simple with the sophisticated functionality, including:
- Under or over-allocations are highlighted with heatmaps and coolmaps, giving PMs the chance to reallocate resources to optimize their performance
- ‘What-if’ analysis provide a secure environment where scenarios can be run to test alternate project outcomes
- Data analysis that identifies potential time and cost savings across multiple projects
- Modelling and forecasting that simplify scheduling and reallocation