5 Strategies for Effective Scheduling in Contract Management

If you don’t know when work is supposed to happen, it probably won’t.

Effective scheduling is critical to contract management because it maintains a sense of urgency and enables better management of client payments and project budgets. In this article, we will review five strategies for developing more effective scheduling in contract management.

1. Communicate with Ease

There must be a balance between the cost to prepare and update the schedule and the ease to communicate that schedule to team members. For example, while a full wall schedule has a high cost of preparation, it does provide a great overview of a large project at all times. However, the full wall schedule may be impractical for teams spread across countries.

Also, a full wall schedule is often better suited to large projects, not small ones or recurring ones. While a client may appreciate the effort to have a full wall schedule during an on-site meeting, he or she may prefer to have one that is accessible online from any computer with an Internet connection. Consider all these factors to select a format that best meets your unique project.

2. Update with Certainty

When looking to minimize the cost to prepare and update a schedule, companies often turn to milestone charts and bar chart schedules. Such tools can be designed through Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Project. However, a major disadvantage of both software is that it becomes difficult to keep track of the latest version.

A contract management system is a versatile tool that overcomes that disadvantage by displaying the latest version of key documents, such as a project’s schedule, in an user-friendly dashboard. Through permission settings, a team can limit the number of people that can update the schedule, reducing the uncertainty of whether or not the latest change have been implemented.

3. Provide Time for Internal Reviews & Corrections

In a world that that everybody is looking to force early deadlines, you need to allow proper time for internal reviews and corrections. These processes are necessary to avoid scope creep and keep project hours within budget.

A common pitfall of scheduling is that tasks star before required prerequisites, such as internal reviews, are complete. When customizing your contract lifecycle provide enough room for internal reviews so that your team is fully committed to the schedule. By creating times for reviews, rework hours are minimized.

4. Quantify Deliverables

If you agree with your client on critical success factors, you need to turn those factors into trackable performance measures.

Here are five specific examples:

  • “Product with good design” should be “approved by design committee”.
  • “Highly automated facility” should be “facility requires no more than 6 people to operate”.
  • “Adequate storage” should be “warehouse storage for 8 oil containers”.
  • “Reasonable construction cost” should be “construction cost under $100 per square foot”.
  • “Minimal change orders” should be “less than 3% of project’s value in change orders”.

These examples show how quantifying value delivered  leaves no room for misunderstandings and allows for smoother client reviews. So, make sure to get them in writing in your SOW and have the responsible parties signed them off.

5. Establish the Critical Path

It’s a reality that deadlines will be pushed to their limit. This is why you need to figure out the the critical path in your contract management project that has “zero float”. When you figure that critical path, you have a better understanding of the critical tasks that if they were to finish late, the project will finish late.

It’s a good practice to include the critical path in the dashboard of your enterprise contract management system as a reminder to team members (and clients, if applicable) of the tasks that can’t run late. Of course, if those tasks do run late, an automated email reminder should go out to the appropriate employee to take action right away. Such actions may include notifying the client, subcontracting some of the work, or working overtime.

Takeaway

Five strategies for effective scheduling are to communicate with ease, update schedule with certainty through a contract management system, provide time for internal reviews, quantify deliverables, and establish the critical path of your project.