Following profitability and resource utilization, schedule adherence is the third critical KPI for any project-oriented business.
Project planning usually identifies a series of milestones, plotted on a timeline. Project Schedule Adherence tracks the project’s progress in meeting scheduled milestones and deadlines. It includes metrics as percentage of tasks completed on time, variance in project schedule, and overall project timeline adherence, and is usually fed by a project management software, but might also be calculated manually.
Best practices to effectively manage project schedule adherence include:
- Detailed Project Planning
A well-defined project plan sets a strong foundation for managing schedule adherence. Investing time and effort in thorough project planning will improve the chances of success. The project plan breaks project down into smaller tasks, estimate durations, and establish clear dependencies and milestones.
- Realistic Deadlines
Deadlines for each task and milestone should be realistic and achievable. Overly optimistic or aggressive timelines lead to schedule slippage (and potentially to financial risk).
- Project Management Software
Application of project management software allows for efficient scheduling, resource allocation, and tracking of tasks. These tools can provide visibility into project timelines, critical paths, and potential bottlenecks, enabling effective schedule management.
- Monitoring Progress
Progress monitoring against the planned schedule, involving regularly tracking, and updating of task status, identification of deviations, and promptly addressing issues or delays will help in identifying schedule risks early and taking necessary corrective actions.
- Critical Path Analysis (CPA)
CPA determines the sequence of tasks that set the overall project duration. Focusing on managing tasks on the critical path and ensuring their adherence to the schedule will avoid delays, which would directly affect the overall project timeline.
- Communication and Collaboration
Maintaining open and effective communication channels with the project team and stakeholders drives transparency and team commitment. Project schedules, deadlines, and expectations should be regularly communicated to team and stakeholders. Fostering collaboration among team members to address schedule-related challenges will improve the quality of identified solutions in many cases.
- Change Management
Successful project managers deploy a structured change management process to manage scope changes effectively. They evaluate the impact of requested changes on the project schedule and assess their feasibility before making adjustments. Changes require proper documentation and approval.