Project management often incorporates a multitude of tasks, each involving different users and resources. These tasks have to be tracked against often-strict deadlines and milestones, as well – a well-oiled project has many different moving parts that together keep the machine (your team) running as expected.
Much like a simple to-do list simply does not meet the needs of a project manager against the demands of a busy project, a standard calendar won’t fulfill the role it needs to either. If your project is even remotely complex, it is likely too sophisticated for an ordinary calendar – you’ll have to begin incorporating project calendars into your workflow.
What is a project calendar?
Project calendars serve as the schedule a project manager uses to outline the workflow of a project – most often in both a weekly and monthly format. Its chief benefit is that it allows you to organize the immediate and upcoming portions of your projects in a near seamless manner.
Formal studies have shown that project calendars can help reduce, or even prevent altogether, the stress and anxiety that inevitably comes with a project that is poorly planned.
Compared with managing your project with just a simple pen and paper, a project calendar offers several key benefits:
Color-coding: organize by milestone status, or stages in the project planning process, or other custom parameters that are user-defined.
Calendar sharing: bring the rest of your team on board with you to collaboratively edit and manage the calendar.
Automated communication for overdue milestones, meeting announcements, and more.
Developing a project calendar that can be used in a variety of different applications will allow the streamlining of multiple processes across your project, team, or even company as a whole. Arguably, though, the best project calendar for you and your team is one you develop and customize to your needs.
What should you look for in a project calendar?
Project management needs can be extensive, and if creating your own solution sounds too complicated, you can always use and implement ready-made project calendaring options which integrate into your project management software arsenal. Viewpath allows project resources to collaborate with one single source of truth for the project details and offers a plug-and-play approach to streamlining project organization across the board. Here are some of the factors you should consider when choosing a tool:
- A way to assign tasks and delegate. Assigning ownership of specific tasks should assign and populate team members’ calendars and task rosters.
- Does it unify your team? From color-coded status updates to setting priorities, your calendar should be as flexible as you require it to be. The entire team should be able to see the whole project and even more importantly, to see their own assignments at a glance.
- Review your timeline. In Viewpath, for example, the “timeline” feature lets you view your project and the deliverable dates from hours to days, weeks, months or years.
- Calendar integration. With calendar integration, you can sync team members via Google Calendar, Outlook, and more.
- Create milestones by due dates. Viewpath automatically displays red and yellow status notifications for you when a milestone is behind once you’ve assigned due dates.
How to build a working, effective project calendar
How can you be sure the project calendar you’ve created will work for you and your team?
- Create deadlines, even if they’re best guesses. It’s a project calendar, after all – time is our most important variable to pay attention to.
- Prioritize. Knocking out high-priority tasks will prevent the project from simmering into an overflowing mess. Sure, feel free to pick away at the easy tasks to build your momentum, but don’t lose sight of controlling the pressure. Using a tool which allows you to specify a priority for your tasks is helpful.
- Stay flexible. While due dates and deadlines are looming, flexibility in the face of change (and your ability to adapt) is paramount above all else. Don’t let timelines make or break your success – your mark as an effective project manager is your ability to work through these issues. You’re a project manager, after all.
- Switch views. Depending on who your audience is, change the view. You can use the List view to see a detailed list of the tasks and their specifics, or the Gantt chart in Viewpath to get a more visual representation of progress and timeline, which is great for distilling a huge project timeline into something meaningful and digestible. Being able to switch between views helps you target your audience’s needs.
Build a stellar project calendar
Project management isn’t just an exercise in fitting puzzle pieces together – oftentimes, projects come together more as Rube Goldberg devices than anything else.
Your goal isn’t just to complete a task; it’s to complete a task on-time and meeting criteria. If you don’t measure your progress over time or keep track of important milestones and KPIs, you won’t know how to optimize the resources available to you to get your project across the finish line.
Want to turn your project into a ready-made calendar? Try out a free 30-day trial of Viewpath and you’ll have everything at your fingertips. Creating effective project management tools that you can measure against the clock is crucial, and we can help you get there in no time.