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Category Archives: Project Time

Project Time

Five Options for Project Start Dates

One of the characteristics of a project is that it is a temporary endeavor. In other words there is a start and end-date. This seems simple enough until you start to try to define exactly what these dates mean. Is it after the Project Charter is signed? Is it when the schedule is finalized?

There are no universally recommended definition for either date. It depends on each organization and whether there are any implications for choosing one alternative over another. Here are some of the options for identifying the project start-date.

  • The need/idea is generated. The definition you choose can depend on what the implication is. You may choose this definition of project start date if your company is trying to focus on the time it takes between when an idea is generated until the idea is fulfilled. Your company may be concerned that it takes too long to commercialize good ideas. If your company wants to minimize this total time span between idea and fulfillment, you might go with an early project start-date definition like this.
  • A budget is approved. In this definition, an idea has been generated and the idea has made it far enough that a cost/benefit statement has been prepared. The project has also made it through the prioritization process and an actual budget has been approved. Keep in mind that the budget may have been approved during the prior year business planning process. The actual work may not start until the following year. Therefore, this definition may also start the clock too early for many organizations.
  • A project manager is assigned. This one is more common. The assumption here is that the project manager is the first resource assigned to a project. When the project manager is assigned, the project initiation and planning begins. This is the definition for project start-date in the TenStep Project Management Process.
  • The Project Charter is approved by the sponsor. In some organizations the project officially starts when the sponsor approves the Project Charter. Some companies require an approved Project Charter and schedule before the project team can be allocated.
  • The project kickoff meeting is held. Using this definition, the planning work is considered to be “pre-project”. The projects starts with a formal kickoff meeting with the major stakeholders and the project team. The kickoff meeting is the time to tell everyone that the project is ready to begin.

In some respects the exact definition of the project start is not as important as whether the definition is applied consistently. For example, if you wanted to compare the time it takes for two projects to complete, it is important that both projects use the same definition for start and end date.

Project Time

The Digital Timesheet

The digital timesheet is one of the many project management tools that do more than its analog counterpart. They still do keep track of your employees’ time at work, but the information collected can now be easily relayed,  along with more information on just what was accomplished in that time.

The old days of punching a clock are gone for most of the business world except in the production floors where manual labor is still needed. Those workers and the task they attend to are well known and documented. A digital timesheet is used more by the professional at your organization. It is the most efficient manner of monitoring the time spent on a project.

The modern day digital timesheet is a way of knowing just who is performing what on your project. It is also an excellent tool for determining just how efficient your work force is performing in their duties against the standards of the industry, and each other. This will also make a formal record of what is accomplished and the time it took to complete each segment of the project.

One of the largest reasons a project is considered a failure is because it did not meet the time constraints set forth in the business case. By utilizing the timesheet in the most productive manner, you will have a written record of all the events involved in your project. This resolution of time usage can then help you to resolve any timing problems that might exist. This will help the project manager in determining just where time was lost or wasted so it can be corrected in future projects.

Along with the time spent on a task, the digital timesheet can also be set up to include specifics about how the time was spent and if there were any deals in completing the tasks at hand. This is a great way to get to the root cause of lost time during a project.

The digital timesheet is the best way to keep track of this finite resource. Since you can never recover lost time, it is best to manage it in the most constructive manner all the time.

Project Time

Delivering on Time with Project Management Forms

Delivering on Time with Project Management Forms

To succeed as a Project Manager, you need to deliver projects on time and within budget. But delivering “on time” is not as easy as it sounds. A survey from the Standish Group estimates that up to 84% of projects fail to deliver on schedule. So how can you put processes in place to help you to deliver your projects on schedule? We suggest, by using these project management forms and by taking these steps:

3 Steps to Project Time Management

Time Management is the process of monitoring and controlling time spent within a project. By recording the actual time spent by staff on a project, you can:

  • Calculate the time spent undertaking tasks
  • Identify the staff cost of undertaking tasks
  • Control the level of resources allocated to tasks
  • Monitor the completion percentage of tasks
  • Identify any outstanding work required to complete tasks

To do all of this effectively within your project, you need to implement a structured Time Management Process. This process uses “Timesheets” upon which staff record their time spent undertaking tasks. The process also involves the use of a “Timesheet Register”, upon which you collate the time recorded by staff. With this information, you can update the Project Plan and assess whether or not the project is on time and likely to deliver within schedule. Here’s how you do it.

Step 1: Document Timesheet

The first step in the process is to capture all of the time spent completing project tasks, using the Timesheet from your project management forms. All project leaders, team members, staff and contractors responsible for completing tasks in the Project Plan should complete Timesheet forms to record the time they spend.

Timesheets exist in various formats, including paper, spreadsheet and software, and they should be used from the moment the Project Plan is approved until the project is closed.

To ensure that all staff members record their time accurately, they should complete their Timesheets as they complete each task, rather than waiting until the end of the reporting period to complete them. They should then forward their completed Timesheets to the Project Manager on a weekly basis for approval.

Step 2: Approve Timesheet

Upon review of each Timesheet, the Project Manager will:

  • Confirm the time spent against tasks listed in the Project Plan
  • Confirm the team member was delegated the task
  • Determine whether the time spent was reasonable
  • Identify whether sufficient progress has been made
  • Identify issues with the time spent and the progress achieved

Based on these conclusions, the Project Manager may decide to approve the timesheet, request further information from the staff member regarding the time spent, or decline it and raise a staff issue.
Step 3: Update Project Plan

After approval, the Project Administrator then enters all time recorded,  against the Project Plan. This allows them to identify:

  • The total time spent per project activity
  • The percentage completion of each project activity
  • The overall delivery of the project against the schedule
  • Tasks that exceed their completion date or forecast effort

The Project Manager is then notified of any exceptions and can choose to take corrective actions, such as:

  • Changing the team member assigned to the task
  • Allocating additional team members to the task
  • Providing additional time for completing the task
  • Requesting assistance from suppliers to help complete the task

Throughout the Time Management Process, the Project Administrator monitors and controls the time spent within the project, by keeping a Timesheet Register up-to-date.

And there you have it. If you take these 3 steps and use project management forms for performing Time Management within your project, you’ll greatly increase you chances of delivering projects on time and within schedule.