Step by step making a project timetable

To make a plan, you must first thoroughly analyse your project and all that has to be done to achieve the intended result. To convert the development and production process into a plan you must have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. The first timetable is drawn up after the main theme of the project’s content has been worked out.

You can alter the example of a project schedule in Excel for your own project.

1. Set the start and end dates

The start date usually coincides with the first real work activity. The end date may be the date of the delivery of the result (for example, the first performance) or the date when the whole project is completed (for example the last performance or the evaluation).

2. Divide the work into phases

Phases are more or less natural stages which are focused on a specific aspect of the project. Subdivide the preparatory phase into research, development and fleshing out phases. Subdivide the implementation phase into a production and a completion or follow-up phase. Also plan an evaluation phase.

3. Identify sub-projects

Identify the most important components of the project and organise tasks logically in clusters. The sub-projects can be coordinated individually to a certain extent. For example, think of the artistic and the production sides of a project.

4. Draw up a list of activities including a division of tasks

Elaborate the activities and tasks for each sub-project and phase. This form represents a hierarchical overview of all the tasks that are to be carried out in sequence or at the same time.

5. Determine a timetable and estimate completion times

Determine what unit of time you will use on the timetable
You can express the completion times of the tasks in units of years, months, weeks, days, hours and even seconds.

Estimate completion times
Make the time period allocated for the execution of the various tasks clearly visible by drawing bars on the planning form or chart. Depending on the project, you can start with the first task or work backwards starting with the last deadline. Use your experience and intuition to estimate the time needed. It may be useful to consult the person who is responsible for carrying out the task. Also indicate the actual duration on the planning form/chart to build up experiential data.

6. Set deadlines and determine the critical path

Define the relationships between tasks and deadlines
A deadline indicates when a cluster of related tasks has to be completed. You can indicate these relationships by drawing vertical dotted lines between the various tasks and deadlines that are dependent on each other. Sometimes a task can be started when another task has only been partially completed.

Assess what matters are critical
Some tasks cannot be delayed without this having direct consequences on the final deadline of the project. All the critical tasks together make up the critical path.

7. Make sure the plan is water-tight

In the end, all the tasks must be finished within the available time. If you have planning problems consider the following solutions: allow more tasks to overlap; reduce completion times by employing more people; cancel certain parts or postpone the final deadline. Always consult the people who have to implement the plan.

8. Finalise the planning

Make a definitive list of all the activities for easy reference. This list should state all the components and tasks and illustrate the logical sequence of all the tasks to be performed. The completion times on the planning chart will show a stair-step progression.

9. Check and review the project’s progress

Check and review the progress of the project regularly during its implementation, so that you can adjust the activities to be carried out if the critical path is in danger of being strayed from. This ought to be a fixed agenda item on the agenda for meetings.