Looking to create a project management calendar for a bunch of your projects to track milestones and delivery? Here's all you need to know to get started.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. This is especially true when it comes to project management. Project calendars, schedules, Gantt charts, and other project management tools are very useful in visualizing and organizing workloads and tasks, and they can be very handy in communicating to your team what needs to be done.
When you're running several projects at once, and professional services businesses usually do, it can be hard to remember what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and who is responsible for doing it. A project planning calendar will help you keep everything in order and make it easy for your team members to know their next steps.
In our recent article, we've explained how to make a resource calendar. Let's see how a project calendar is different and learn all there is to know about the best project management calendar tools out there.
A project management calendar is a tool that helps you manage your project schedule, tasks, and milestones.
It's a place where you can keep track of everything that's going on with your project — from deadlines to upcoming events to team members' availability.
A good project calendar will help you keep track of all the moving pieces in your projects, so nothing falls through the cracks and everything gets done on time and within budget.
If you’re managing multiple projects at once or your teams tend to work on multiple tasks at once, having a clear sense of where each project stands in relation to its deadlines and budget can save you from missing an important deadline or spending too much money on an unnecessary task.
A calendar for project management includes much more than simply important due dates.
First, it shows the assignments, resources, and baselines of a project.
Next, it lists all important deadlines and milestones, which are very important in the creation of any project schedule.
Finally, it provides a way to update everyone on the current status of their assignments and tasks.
If your project calendar doesn't have this kind of complete picture, it can lead to confusion among team members.
When you only show due dates on a calendar and nothing else, people don't have an easy way to access this information outside of the calendar itself. They'll have to refer back to your other project documents for any details about tasks or resources or baselines. If these documents are scattered around multiple locations on your computer or on a server somewhere, this process can be time-consuming and inefficient for everyone involved.
Calendars are your friend. You can't always trust yourself to remember appointments or deadlines, and even if you could, why would you want to? Your schedule is there for a reason: it keeps your focus on the things that matter. It's the same with project calendars.
When you create a calendar for a project, you can block off certain days for specific tasks and events, making sure that your resources don't end up double-booked. And since you can color-code different events or tasks, it becomes easier to spot any conflicts that might arise and the best way to handle them.
It's also about the accountability. When planning your project, developing a schedule, and assigning tasks to people, you give them accountability for the part of the project they are to participate.
This allows you to see how much time each task will take, so you can know if there are enough resources available to complete the project within its timeline.
For example, if task A is estimated at 10 hours, but only one person with 2 free hours is available for that time period, you'll know that the project cannot be allocated enough time or resources unless you reshuffle something.
No matter how versatile and talented your team members may be, there's only so much they can do in a given time period. A calendar helps you plan around their availability as well as other constraints like travel dates, vacations, holidays, etc.
If you have an external deadline for the project, then having a calendar will ensure that all tasks are accounted for and delivered on time.
The real secret sauce behind project management is communication — a calendar helps keep everyone on the same page when it comes to scheduling, meeting times, and deadlines. They're even more useful for teams that work across multiple time zones.
For example, if you're working with a team in Australia, someone will need to be available during their workday to talk about collaboration over Zoom or Google Hangouts. But what happens if they're working at 3 AM when you're at home? You can't call them then! With a shared calendar view, they can have access to all updates in real time without having to double-check it with you.
Creating a project calendar is easy, with just three steps and great project management calendar software at hand.
The first step is to assign all the responsibilities of the project to your team members.
Creating tasks helps you break down large projects into smaller segments and gives you a sense of direction and accomplishment when you complete each one.
Make sure every member understands what they have to do, as well as when and how they have to do it. In some cases, you will need your team members' input regarding specific details of their tasks.
In case of a big project, you can divide your team into smaller units and assign each unit a set of tasks to accomplish. This will make it easier for everyone to focus on what they are supposed to do without worrying about anything else.
Priorities will help you better understand which aspects of the project are most important and how much time needs to be spent on each task.
You basically need to sort out critical tasks from the less important ones. Prioritize tasks that are most important for your customers or business partners, especially those that have hard deadlines and require immediate attention from your team members.
Set up a plan for completing the most important tasks on time and give this plan to your team members for review and approval. If a task has no deadline or is not critical, don't schedule it right away; it might be better off in a 'nice-to-do' folder.
When you're scheduling projects and tasks, you want to make sure that your plans account for all of the potential situations (and potential pitfalls) that come with it.
You'll want to make sure that your calendar takes into consideration different project requirements, resource availability, and other factors — anything that can throw a wrench in your carefully laid-out plans and cause a delay or problem.
What if an unforeseen circumstance arises? What if you're hit by a meteor? (Okay, we don't really expect a meteor…but still.) What if someone calls in sick? All of these things are very likely to happen at some point in your project's development, and sometimes they'll happen more than once.
Give yourself room on your schedule for them. And don't forget about holidays! Holidays tend to sneak up on us, so it's always good practice to check into them months before the date.
So, with all of that information in mind, how do you pick the best calendar for project management?
Your project management calendar will be as good as the tools you use to create it. But finding the best project management calendar is not all black and white — it usually starts with your project scheduling needs.
Luckily, there are enough project scheduling tools to satisfy all tastes — take a look at our top picks!
When you dive deep into any list of project calendars, Runn will always stand out. For one thing, here you get to look at your project calendar from different angles.
If you need to see the big picture of your projects, use the Project Planner. Here you get to build a calendar with your projects broken down into milestones and phases, color-coded for easy visual understanding of what starts and ends when. In an easy user-friendly dashboard, you can see all the relevant project data, including milestones, deadlines, budgets, and resources assigned to it. You can open up multiple projects for your convenience and even schedule a tentative project.
If it is your resources that you are particularly interested in, look into the People Planner. Here you can easily see the capacity and availability of your resources so you don't create your project calendar using resources that are already fully booked.
You can also look at their utilization and if you see someone has availability right when you need it — assign them to your new project without exiting the dashboard!
In Asana, you can use the Calendar View to create your project calendars. All the tasks can be dragged and dropped, which means it is easy to tweak deadlines if you need something changed in your project scheduling.
Your team members will also be able to look into their own calendars — a calendar view showing them what projects they are part of, what tasks they need to complete, and what deadlines they have for all the deliverables.
The Calendar View is particularly relevant if your project is ongoing (vs if it has an end date, then it's best to opt for the Timeline View). It's also more relevant if tasks are not too dependent on each other and you prefer having a bird's eye view on everything that will be happening in the upcoming month.
First off, let's get clear on the drawbacks here. Microsoft Project is not one of those advanced tools that will give you a nice interface.
It's complicated and old-school, but it works.
You can create a project calendar, set the duration of each task, establish the start and the end dates, and then use those to create a Gantt chart and visualize your project.
Compared to Runn and Asana, Microsoft Project has more functionality, but if you're running a simple project and just want to plan it out quickly, the former might be perfect for the job.
Google calendar is not widely used for project management, but it sure can be! Especially if you are on a budget and want to plan out your project without having to invest into software.
Same as you would normally plan out a business day, week, or month, you can use the Monthly calendar view to plan out your project phase by phase. And what's even better is that you can color-code it, assign people, set start end end dates to make the project time-bound.
Additionally, rumors have it that Google has just introduced their project timeline builder!
Smartsheet will give you 15 free project calendar templates right off the bat. You can choose from Calendar View, Timeline View, Gantt charts, and many other templates which were designed to fit the needs of different industries.
Whether you are a marketing or a construction team, Smartsheet will probably have a template to give you an easy start with your project management calendar.
A good project manager usually knows what kind of visualization they need for the project, traditional, static, or dynamic — but even if that is not the case, Smartsheet's project calendars are very intuitive and can give an easy start to just about anyone.
A project calendar is a visual way of tracking the progress of your project. It's something you and your team members will be able to refer back to throughout the duration of your project. It's also a good way to establish the amount of work that needs to be done, the deadlines and due dates, and the overall flow of the project.
When you're managing a project, it's easy to get lost in the details. You're constantly checking in on the status of each step in the process, making sure everything is running smoothly. And while it's important to keep an eye on these details, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture.
Curious to see how Runn can simplify this process for you? Book a demo now!
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