Think about the last project you had that didn’t go well. What were the main issues that caused the ending result to be less than satisfactory?
Perhaps one of your teammates didn’t get their job done. Maybe they did complete it in time, but they were unclear on what was supposed to be accomplished, leading to messy results.
For example, let’s say that a hospital project manager is tasked with hiring a new surgeon. However, when they delegated the task of looking through resumes to some of the HR employees, they accidentally said doctor instead of a surgeon. So, while they sent the resumes forward in time, they were not what the project manager needed.
Another way in which a team project can get derailed is through an unclear timeline. This complication can be especially tricky for larger companies, or if some of your teammates are working at another location or office.
It’s not enough to just set a date at the kick-off meeting and hope that everyone remembers it and can get their portion done on that day.
When you were in college, a failed team project may harm your G.P.A. In the real world, a project that fails can have much more significant consequences.
Clients may be unhappy, or patients may become frustrated. Your organization overall will also be negatively affected.
Today, we’re going to focus on just how important creating a thorough and clear project timeline is for your organization. Including some tips and tricks to make sure everyone is meeting the due date.
The Importance of Project Timelines
While every project has variables, there is one constant that will always be the same: the timeline.
Timelines are the building block of any project, and they keep everyone in sync with what’s going on.
Think of a project that you’re currently working on. Now imagine that the timeline associated with it — even if it’s just a simple one like the End of Day (E.O.D.) — isn’t known by you and anyone else involved in the project. You may know your timeline, but there can be some complications if you’re working with others who do not know of it.
Now, imagine a more substantial project involving 25-30 people with that same problem. That’s when things get confusing, especially if you’re waiting to receive someone’s work before you can get started on your own.
A great example of this is if a chief physician or hospital operations manager wants to increase emergency response by 10%. That will involve making sure that a lot of different people are on the same page — from those handling emergency phone calls to the paramedics in the ambulance and those conducting the emergency surgeries. But, if one of these teams are falling behind with their specific tasks concerning the project, it can throw everyone else off as well.
Complications typically arise because employees have to balance multiple priorities and tasks on a day-to-day basis. Not knowing when you’ll be able to start on one task because you’re waiting on someone to deliver their assets can throw a wrench in productivity.
For another example, let’s say you’re working on an email newsletter that you send out to your patients weekly, and you’re designing the template.
However, you need to have the email copy before you can create it. But, you have no idea when the HR employee who is in charge of that is going to get that done.
On a larger scale, let’s say you’re working on the hospital’s budget for this upcoming quarter. You need an analysis of last month’s quarter plus projections for the forthcoming quarter from other members of your team. Not getting the budget done in time for the quarterly meeting may cause significant delays for your business.
So, what are some ways you can make sure that everyone who is a part of the project understands the timeline?
Here are some tips and tricks to avoid running into project timeline mishaps.
Give You and Your Team Leeway
When initially creating your project timeline, you must give yourself a little leeway in terms of the due date.
You can still treat deadlines as hard and fast. Though, creating them knowing that sometimes priorities shift and other items always come up will help keep your project moving forward.
Let’s say that based on your estimates, you and your team can complete a project in four weeks. It would then be wise to set the deadline five weeks out. This way, you can give everyone on your team a little bit of extra leeway in case conflicting priorities come up.
Use a Project Management Software/Solution
No matter what the size of your company is, you can always use project management software to ensure clarity around deadlines. Without one, your team could get incredibly lost.
Monday, Asana, Genius, Basecamp, and Trello are just a few of the many excellent project management apps you can use to ensure your team is on the same page when it comes to deliverables.
Update on Progress Weekly
Weekly progress meetings are recommended for most projects — primarily because of the all hustle and bustle that occurs inside a healthcare organization.
By updating progress weekly, you’ll be able to see if projects are ahead of schedule and then plan appropriately for the next steps. If someone is behind schedule, you can reassess deadlines or see if there is a way to catch them up so that they can still meet their due date.
Make Sure Everyone Has a Say in Deadlines
One thing that can quickly throw your project off the rails is if one person is deciding all the deadlines. You’ll soon find that when this happens, deadlines are missed, and clients or customers will not be happy.
Instead, everyone should give input on when they can complete their tasks so that you can come up with aggressive deadlines that are still attainable.
Now go out there and meet those deadlines!