Sound Scheduling: Keep Your Projects From Going Sideways – Part 1

September 21, 2020

 By Amy Champigny, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Deltek

Like many other project delivery elements, scheduling seems simple on the surface. It’s just a list of activities. In reality, those that live and breathe project scheduling cringe at that assumption. Without a sound schedule, delivering on time is impossible. Think of it this way- a project schedule is a means to communicate what needs to be done, when, and in what order. Straightforward, right? Think again!

Given the complexity of many projects, it is a reality that teams will face challenges during execution. Those hurdles will require deviations from the baseline and that makes it essential to have the correct scheduling techniques, processes and tools in place to quickly address these setbacks and ultimately deliver projects successfully. Unfortunately, this level of standardization and scheduling rigor is not present in all companies.

It’s estimated that poor scheduling and project management practices cost organizations around the world about $1 million every 20 seconds in lost revenue, according to the Project Management Institute. These mistakes also lead to more than one-third of projects failing to meet goals, and close to half of those are not completed on time.

Common Scheduling Challenges


Inexperienced Project Staff

General turnover and competition for talent has resulted in an increase in inexperienced project managers and schedulers across industries. This lack of foundational knowledge and business acumen can often lead to difficultly communicating project challenges to stakeholders, or worse, failing to recognize them, which can result in irreversible delays and cost overruns.   


Risk Failures

Project risk is often discussed solely at the beginning stages, but in reality it only dissipates once a project is complete. Without ongoing strategic risk management efforts, teams are putting project scope and cost in jeopardy. Mature scheduling practices can help organizations predict and mitigate risks throughout the project lifecycle.


Lack of Maturity

Despite the complexity of many projects, teams all too frequently rely on manual, disparate, outdated systems and controls. From email to multiple versions of the same or similar spreadsheet, obtaining team buy-in and delivering consistent results without appropriate tools and processes becomes very difficult to achieve.  


Industry Variables

Depending on the industry, different standards or compliance requirements exist that pose added scheduling challenges. Understanding them and adopting scheduling practices to adhere to these nuances is essential. 


Unforeseen Problems

Even with risk management practices in place throughout a project, there is still a likelihood that unforeseen issues or realized risk, will arise. In order to still have a fighting chance of keeping the project on track it is necessary to be able to correct even the smallest schedule snafu quickly and efficiently.  


Impacts of Scheduling Challenges

Drawing a correlation between these scheduling challenges and their impact on individual projects is clear. Schedule drives costs, so if you are behind on your schedule there will be cost overruns. But, it doesn’t stop there! These challenges can be responsible for negative consequences far beyond an individual project.


One of first places negative impacts of poor scheduling are felt is project profitability, which ultimately effects a company’s bottom line. Depending on the project’s size and scope the organization may be able to take the hit for a single failed project, but consistently delivering over budget projects due to poor scheduling is sure to create long term effects that are difficult to turn around.  


Satisfaction and Future Business

Delivering projects late and over budget has a huge impact on customer satisfaction. If customers/owners are dissatisfied with the work and the relationship becomes strained it is highly unlikely they will turn to you for future business.  


Pressure on Your Team

The use of disparate systems and/or inconsistent scheduling processes can quickly lead to confusion and frustration among team member at all levels. Constant firefighting and pivoting is extremely draining on employees and this burnout can ultimately cause them to leave the organization.   


Time to Make a Change?

As a project professional, it is likely you have firsthand experience at some level with the scheduling pitfalls outlined. Taking on the challenge of reimagining your scheduling practices with new tools and process can seem like a daunting task, but can you afford the alternative – particularly in today’s competitive environment?

A great way to start your journey is by checking out our Delivering Successful Projects Starts with Sound Scheduling whitepaper for a deeper dive into the importance of scheduling. And, keep an eye out for part two of this blog for selecting and implementing the right scheduling solution and benefits realized!  

About the Author

Amy Champigny is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Deltek who works with government contractors, architecture & engineering firms and consulting firms around the world. Amy helps improve their business processes through technology and thought leadership with resources like Deltek Clarity and Deltek’s leading project-based software solutions. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.