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4 Tips to Effectively Manage Timelines

Sadaf Baig

When planning events, we always play it safe when it comes to our timelines. We include buffers for approvals around creative, content, and equipment rentals. Even our show-flows tend to have a few minutes stashed away in case any panel or speaker runs longer than anticipated. But regardless of all the preparation, we all recognize that nothing can be expected to go as planned. And now with COVID, things continue to evolve by the second. Here are four ways to effectively manage your timelines without feeling like you’re against the wall.  

1. Add Extra Buffers

Build in three days of buffer on each side your deadlines. This includes any internal organizational approvals and any external key milestones. For example, if you’re planning on sending an email on January 15th, put the 13th on your timeline, and then have a drop dead date for an approved email uploaded into your CRM system by the 12th. These are the dates you will share with the team, instead of the 15th. It’s okay to keep secrets to yourself sometimes.  

2. Know Your Drop-Dead Date

Give all vendors and teams the timelines in advance (the buffered version), so they can give you the absolute drop-dead dates. This includes your printers, productions teams, creative teams, and so on. Also, note the logistical delays due to COVID, such as shipments and Internet outages.  

3. Weekly Status Check-Ins  

Have weekly scheduled check-ins with your key teams and vendors. These should be short and focused on deliverables and timelines. If it needs to be a working session, schedule time separately.  

4. Be the Conductor

You’re keeping the train running, so know what works best for you and your team to stay on track. As a leader or planner, you need to know everyone’s style to ensure everyone is keeping up with changes in the timeline or any updates that may be needed. Whether you’re using a project management system or sending emails updates, make sure everyone has visibility. If someone isn’t reviewing, make sure you know when and how to remind them of deadlines. You may have to alter your style to make sure everything gets done.