Programme Management

Project Management – How to set realistic project timescales

Project management – being able to keep a realistic timeline for your projects is an essential skill that many strive for. It’s important because it not only keeps clients happy, it also helps to ensure that things get done in a timely manner, which in turn helps to build a positive reputation.

One of the major risks in project management is under-delivering if you set deadlines which are too tight, this can add stress to your team and yourself. However, if the deadlines are too loose, you could slow the project down as you won’t be able to move forward as quickly as you could.

Michael Goldie, a project manager at Callidus has written six steps to setting project management deadlines that are realistic without being too loose, to ensure you and your team meet your project deadlines.

1. Break the project down into chunks, so that you have a list of all the required steps that need to be taken before the project is completed. Then, for each step you will need to decide how long each step will take, setting a sub-deadline for each step. It may sound obvious but you would be surprised how many people don’t and prefer to estimate how long the project will take, instead of looking at each step in the project (Often leading to frustration when the project requires more time).

2. Retrospectively think about previous projects and delays you may have seen. Assume that they may happen again, and if it’s possible build time for these occurrences into your timeline.

3. What else might be going on at the same time as the project? You may need a certain day to complete a task, but it could fall into a busy period with several conflicting priorities, you may need to factor in more time to the project. It’s important to factor in other elements that will be going on at the same period.

4. Communicate with team members to get their input. If you’re setting deadlines for others, or are reliant on other people doing aspects of the project you need to check with them to make sure that these timescales are reasonable. You don’t want to find out weeks into the project that you’ve underestimated the amount of time it will take to pull together the elements you need or that the person you need information from is on vacation the week you assumed they could work on it. Communication is key!

5. When the project has begun it’s important that you continually monitor its progress, ticking off stages as you move along the project pipeline. Make sure you review and meet your sub-deadlines, keeping up with the pace you dictated by the schedule you laid out. Checking the work is in progress will give you a better chance of avoiding any unpleasant surprises.

6. Don’t wait until a deadline is looming; work on things well ahead of deadlines, and you’ll more reliably stick to schedules (and often have the bonus of finishing up early).

Project Management – Callidus

In any project, we deliver the most important aspects are the quality of work and service we provide within budget and on time.

From the outset communication is key in agreeing with the client their deadlines and completion dates so expectations can be managed. These need to be achievable for each task in hand taking into account the complexity of the project, any business-driven deadlines and long procurement lead in times.

Early engagement with the client is crucial so the above points can be addressed and where necessary timescales amended.

Building close working relationships with the client suppliers and contractors are vital.

The supplier/contractor needs to highlight any potential slippage on deadlines and timescales as these can have a detrimental impact to the client and end user.

Communication and continuous dialogue throughout the duration is essential so if a problem does arise it can be addressed quickly.

To discuss our project management capabilities please call us on 0113 385 2740 or email