There is nothing more useless than a project schedule without actual employee hours. It’s like a Popsicle stand on a deserted island. It won’t get much use. So we’re suggesting a solution: Standard Time¬Æ — a timesheet that integrates with your project plans.
Most project managers cannot hope to predict accurate task durations on behalf of team members. But you still need them for project costs, resource needs, and completion dates. So naturally the PM’s consult the engineers responsible for their tasks. Problem is, they can’t predict durations and completion dates any better. So unfortunately, you get project schedules with unrealistic hours, unrealistic budgets, and laughable ship dates. And sorry, but Agile methodologies don’t help much either. Here’s why‚Ä¶
People have a difficult time seeing into the future and providing accurate task metrics, regardless of their company roles. They visualize poorly, predict poorly, and consider all the possible future scenarios poorly. It’s like trying to play chess twenty moves ahead of your opponent. Impossible!
So it doesn’t matter if you are the project manager, program manager, or the engineer responsible for your own work. You cannot predict the number of hours your tasks will take with any degree of certainty. Unless you’ve been through it before.
That’s where experience comes in.
There is one saving grace in this mess‚Ä¶ comparing past projects, where you have used a timesheet to collect task hours, to similar tasks in your upcoming project. In other words, look back at similar tasks in similar projects and see how long they actually took. You can then apply similar principles to your next project. But you can’t do that if you don’t collect hours in a timesheet. Enter, Standard Time¬Æ Timesheet.
Perhaps the job of comparing past projects to future ones should fall on the project manager rather than engineers. They are the ones with the PM disciplines ‚Äì the skills and wherewithal to make it happen. If asked to do such work, engineers will decline. It’s not their job and they know it. They have engineering problems to solve and can’t be bothered with the administrative overhead. Can you blame them?
There are other advantages to using a timesheet with your project schedule. Another is that tasks will automatically bump out as the actual work field is populated and tasks are marked as complete. The schedule will contract and grow like an inchworm. But mostly it will grow further into the future if your original time estimates are short, and that’s often the case. That rightward movement can invoke panic and immediate action to “rein in the project. ”
And really, that’s what we care about most ‚Äì keeping the project on track.
So if you haven’t already, try running a project through the Standard Time¬Æ Timesheet. You might be surprised at what you learn!
Recommended Project Management Software
If you’re interested in learning more about top rated project management software, the editors at Project-Management.com actively recommend the following:
ClickUp is one of the highest-rated project management tools today. Use Docs, Reminders, Goals, Calendars, Chat, scheduling, assigned comments, custom views, & more with this all-in-one project management tool.
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monday.com Work OS is the project management software that helps you and your team plan, execute, and track projects and workflows in one collaborative space. Manage everything from simple to complex projects more efficiently with the help of visual boards, 200+ ready-made templates, clever no-code automations, and easy integrations. In addition, custom dashboards simplify reporting, so you can evaluate your progress and make data-driven decisions.