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Why Scheduling Matters
You have a 24-hour day, a 40- to 60-hour workweek, and you do not have enough time for everything. Often, that problem might arise from a lack of organization or prioritization skills, but it might also stem for a lack of simple scheduling.
Three Types of Schedules
A capacity schedule targets preparation for required space and location; a resource schedule outlines when people and supplies are needed for the work; and a service schedule tracks when outside help is required.
As an example, suppose you need to build a shed in your backyard. Have you measured the space in your yard and have you prepared the site (capacity)? Do you have the tools and wood you will need and help in lifting the roof (resources)? Do you need to get a building permit before you can even start (service)? All that effort and coordination takes time and should be scheduled.
When you are leading a more complex project, simply assigning people to tasks is inadequate. You need to schedule meeting rooms, team availability, physical resources such as parts and software, and access to services outside your team (perhaps IT, consultants, or administrative support) so that everyone and everything arrives and is ready exactly when you need it. Some tasks in the project will depend on the completion of other tasks; you need to map those dependencies to prevent delays.
According to IBM, 34% of IT projects are behind schedule in the U.S. and 25% of IT projects are over budget. Schedule and budget are closely linked: s project that takes more time is also going to eat up more resources.
Scheduling problems often stem from
- Overly optimistic projections about the amount of time and resources a task will take
- Inadequate staffing, so that the team is overworked and turnover soars
- Promising a delivery or end date before the schedule is even started
- Assuming that no changes or obstacles will affect the project.
One of the simplest scheduling devices is a calendar with the hours of the day listed. But it requires you to sit down and actually mark, hour by hour, how you will devote your time during a day or a week. The few minutes it takes to set your own schedule is well worth it. Remember to leave wiggle room for each task to run over or be interrupted and to set aside time to eat, relax, sleep, and interact with family and friends—these are important to your health and poor health will quickly undermine any schedule.
Every member of your team should be encouraged to take the same daily step of plotting out their schedule.
The marketplace is flooded with scheduling software for your computer and your phone. Many systems are specifically marketed to manage and communicate scheduling for 20 or more people. Others focus on business needs like scheduling clients, social media engagements, or invoices.
Whatever method you use—calendar, task list, Gantt chart, flow diagram, or mind map—the objective is the same: to lay out the schedule so that you can see if it realistically fits into the time available, with the resources you have, at the given location. Both potential problems and opportunities for efficiency become more evident when the schedule leaves the realm of wishful thinking and becomes concrete and visual.
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