Scheduling Your Project Activities

  • For any project, timing is everything. The LABORATORY FOR COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (LCED) has created an online scheduling tool to help community leaders with development initiatives. The online tool is designed after the Gantt chart, a horizontal bar chart that provides an easily understood overview of the activities and milestones of the project. Named after Henry Laurence Gantt, the American engineer and social scientist. Gantt charts have been used since the early 1900s and are frequently an important business tool business for planning and managing projects.

  • The chart displays the chronological time frame of your project and helps document and plan major project milestones. The simple display includes proportionate, chronologically scaled time frames for each task in the project. The chart will display information about WHAT is happening WHEN it should be happening and WHO is responsible for each task. The tasks are outlined on the left-hand column of the chart.

    Using the LCED Online Project Planning Tool

  • At the main Laboratory for Community and Economic Development Toolbox page, Select "Community Planning" and then go to "Scheduling Your Project Activities." You will have to complete a login form once which will allow you to store and maintain your information at this site. On subsequent visits you will bypass the login pages; however, each time you visit the site you will have to enter your original login and password. The information you enter will be stored and you will be able to make changes and updates.

  • Assign a name for your project and identify the different people or organizations that are involved in project activities. Each activity within your project will be assigned a color in the final Gantt chart representing the individual or group responsible for implementing the particular task.

  • Once you have identified up to six different people, groups or organizations who are involved in the project press "submit" to take you to the next page.

  • On the second page of the tool, you will be asked to identify the start date of the project. The next table provides rows where you can label each activity in your project; assign a time frame; and identify the person or group responsible for completion. Type in the activity name in the first column, then identify which week that particular task will start and be completed by pressing down the arrow and highlighting the appropriate week. The Gantt chart will identify the exact date of completion based on the start date entered earlier. Finally, press on the down arrow of the last column to select one of the predefined persons/groups who is responsible for implementing that task (only the names entered on the previous page will listed).

    Tips for successful project scheduling:

  • Communications among team members is the key priority.

  • Build consensus among your team in defining tasks/milestones and timelines. Individual responsibilities must be clear.

  • There is a trade-off between scheduling a project with too little detail and projects with too much detail. With too much detail, it is difficult to manage more than 3 or 4 tasks at a time. With too little detail, milestones may be missed and often a lot of the work is left for last minute.

  • As a guide, do not define tasks that will take longer than 6 weeks to complete, break the task down to small and more manageable milestones. It is easier to stay on target (in terms of cost and time) when tasks are subdivided into smaller, more easily understood activities.

  • Meet regularly with your team to assess whether the outlined schedule is still on target and make modifications to your timeline if necessary. Keep your eye on the goals of your project and revise activities as change in strategies become necessary.

  • If your goals and tasks are not clearly defined use the LABORATORY FOR COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT online Strategic Planning tool to help facilitate the process.

    For more information:
    Contact Julie Fesenmaier ~