What is Time Management?

Time Management Overview

Time Management is the art of organizing, arranging and scheduling activities in a fashion that it optimizes an individual or perhaps a team for highest level of productivity and success. Specifically in context of managing projects, time management is of utmost importance.

The most common cause of project failure is lack of project time management or in other words – non adherence to project schedule. The symptoms of projects failing due to scheduling problems are milestones not being met, delivery deadlines extended and finally resulting in a project that slips its schedule. Furthermore, another chief cause of project failure is projects going over budget. This can in turn also be attributed to time management issues. A project that takes longer than scheduled time almost always costs more than budgeted for.

PMI – the most highly recognized association of professionals in the field of project management, not only attributes time as one of the “triple constraints” for any given project but also analyses it further in its 4th edition of PMBOK guide as one of the 9 knowledge areas. The knowledge area includes 6 processes, 5 of which belong in the planning phase of any given project. Even though on the outside, the complicated looking set of processes, their interaction with each other, the inputs and outputs and the tools and techniques required to complete these processes, may look like something difficult to comprehend but they are only logical and basically bring out the better of a project manager.

Certified project managers not only comply with these processes but also reap the benefits of making brilliant project plans and delivering quality projects within time and budget.

The 6 Processes of Time Management

  1. Define Activities – Identify the set of activities required and the chief output is “Activity List”.
  2. Sequence Activities – Understand and bring out the logical relationship among the identified activities. The most important output of this process is the Schedule Network Diagram.
  3. Estimate Activity Resources – Estimate and record the type and quantity of resources required for each of the activities identified. The chief outputs of this process is activity resource requirement and Resource Breakdown Structure
  4. Estimate activity Durations – Depending on scope of activities this is the process of estimating the time units each activity will require. The chief result of this process is activity Duration Estimates
  5. Develop Schedule – Schedule is developed taking into consideration outputs from all the previous processes and arriving at a realistic schedule yet optimal combination of  dependencies, resources and durations.
  6. Control Schedule – Unlike all the previous 5 planning processes this process falls in Monitoring and Control Process Group. As the name suggests it’s the process of monitoring project status for schedule with respect to planned Schedule. Some of the most important project performance parameters like Variance and Schedule Performance Index are determined.

Fortunately there is an abundance of project management software in the market and is recommended especially with making project schedules given its complexity and critical nature.