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Before embarking on a large and important project, it is often helpful to develop a project timeline. This involves recording the major steps that will be involved in a project, from start to finish, along with the people or teams responsible and projected completion dates. This is a way of looking at the major details, or the big picture of the entire project, with all of the goals and milestones included.
If a person is developing a project timeline for a project he or she is completing independently, then he or she can be solely responsible for developing the timeline. Many projects, especially large-scale ones, involve multiple workers or members of a team. When project timelines are being created for such projects, all of the workers who will be involved in the decision-making process also should be part of creating the timeline.
The timeline should include all of the projected milestones and goals that are part of the project along with those responsible for the various parts, materials needed and the target completion date for each step. Meetings or checkpoints that have been planned in advance also can be included in a project timeline, because the idea is to give the best representation possible of the entire project. As a group initially works together to develop a project timeline, they should all be able to see the timeline. It can be projected onto a board via a computer, placed in an online multiple-access workspace, or written with markers as a rough draft on a large piece of chart paper posted on the wall.
After an initial project timeline has been created, each member of the group responsible for the project should be given a copy of it for reference. It can be a paper copy or an electronic copy that is posted online or emailed to members. The project timeline is a working document that should be revisited periodically throughout the project so it can be adjusted as changes and contingencies arise.
Project timelines have several advantages. They help to keep all members of a team focused on the goals of a particular project and to keep them together as the project evolves and changes. These timelines also help to demonstrate how the project should flow in a combination written and visual manner. Timelines for projects should be helpful both to members of the team who are detail-oriented and to those who need to see the larger picture of how everything fits together. Project timelines also can help to make sure that all required tasks and steps in a project have been appropriately assigned and delegated.
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