It turns out that the business planning process, and almost any other type of planning process, is very diverse. It includes many different methodologies and strategies. As a result of that, business owners and managers have to use a wide array of tools to complete tasks.
Even though there is a long list of planning techniques, the fact is that there is one thing that appears in every planning process regardless of the company and the industry and that the timeline. The timeline is a very important element that represents the core of the planning process. It gives everyone a better view on the things that should be accomplished and the way in which these goals will be achieved. By learning how to create a timeline, you will ensure that the planning process will be finished as expected. Making precise, all-inclusive timelines will also help you complete the project in the most efficient way and that this process is finite.
What does a timeline like this contain?
The elements and the size of the timeline are closely related to the nature of the planning process. For instance, there are situations when the timeline comes with many details like dozens of tasks. Sometimes, the timeline is simple and includes less than five deadlines and goals. However, generally speaking, there are a few elements that every timeline should contain.
First of all, it must contain a list of tasks that must be finished. Next, it should include strict dates when these tasks are expected to be finished. Of course, these tasks must start at some point and that’s why there is information about the expected duration for every task. Finally, there is a description of the dependencies between all the tasks.
Even though there are many different kinds of timelines used for this purpose, according to many experts, the most used type is the Gantt chart timeline.
How to create a proper timeline
Today, people have access to a wide range of software tools that can help them create the best timelines for the planning process. Some of the reliable software solutions come with workflows and templates that can save you a lot of time and ensure that everything in your timeline is included.
The vast majority of timelines are created with the help of a WBS (work breakdown structure). This document includes the description of the plan’s requirements. The structure contains the deliverables and services/products/activities that must be finished. However, this is not the part where you highlight the information about when and how these tasks will be completed.
Once this first step is finished, the manager should break every task into a few subtasks. (2) This is where time estimates are made. In addition, during this phase, the creator of the timeline can find the dependencies between specific tasks and the necessary skills required for completion of these subtasks and tasks. This is when the right team members are identified and assigned.
Once the subtasks, tasks, deadlines, skills, and resource needs are described and defined, the timeline is completed and distributed to every team member that is part of the planning process. Don’t forget that there are situations where timelines are revised because the plan might have new requirements and priorities.