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Time Constraint – 10 Tips to Keep Your Project on Schedule

Time Constraint is a term that defines various factors that limit projects in terms of time. This includes deadlines, workload management, and resource allocation.

Anyone who has worked on a project had to deal with certain constraints regarding execution. Some were pulled back by the project cost or overwhelmed with additional scope, but the complaint we hear the most is that there was a lack of time. So, how can you deal with the time constraints effectively?

Find out below!

project time tracking
Teamhood project time tracking

The three project constraints meaning

According to the project management theory, there are 3 constraints of project management that can affect the outcome of your efforts – Time, Cost, and Scope.

  • The Time constraint talks about how to manage a project in a way that it meets the set deadlines and allocates all the resources effectively.
  • The Cost constraint refers to handling the project to stay within a given budget. This includes the materials, labor, vendors, and other project costs.
  • The Scope constraint is all about the goals and deliverables of the project. It defines priorities and the most important parts of the project, specifying what has to be done.

All three project constraints can make or break the project. Thus, it is crucial to keep to them and ensure you do not forget about any. By not monitoring the time constraint, you will get behind schedule and have to fight to return for the rest of the project. By not monitoring the cost, you risk losing the profit or, in extreme cases, even bankruptcy. And by not managing scope, you can easily lose your way and start focusing on things that are not actually important.

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Additional project management constraints

While traditionally, constraints in project management have been viewed as the three mentioned above, recently, there have been some suggestions to expand this definition. Some modern project management literature is now quoting these six as the main constraints of a project – Time, Cost, Scope, Quality, Risk, and Resources. The six constraints can be paired due to their direct dependency on each other.

For example, the time constraint is dependent on resource constraints. Availability of resources in a well-planned project is a direct solution for time constraints, and extension of deadlines allows to complete a project with fewer resources. Similarly, extending the scope of a project increases the number of risks to completing it, whereas reducing the scope can be the solution to minimize risks.

In this article, we will get deeper into managing time constraints since it is ever more relevant in the new era of remote work.

The Importance of Time Constraint

In its essence, time is a limited resource, and in a project setting, this could not be any more true. The time constraint limits a project in two ways – deadlines and resources. First, a project has a set timeline and a date when it has to be completed. You will rarely encounter a project that can last indefinitely, and thus you have to keep to a certain schedule.

Secondly, each project has a certain amount of people, and those people have limited available work hours. Once again, the project is constrained to this amount and has to be completed within it.

While cost and scope constraints can be adjusted a little more easily, moving the deadline or finding more people to work on your project can be challenging. This is why keeping to the time constraint plays such a big role in each project’s success.

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task dependencies

Managing the Time constraint

To ensure you do not run off track, here are 10 tips for successfully managing the time constraint.

1 – Agree on a manageable time constraint with your stakeholders

The work on managing the project constraints starts before the actual project begins. The project manager, client, management board, or shareholders must set the project scope, cost, and timeline. Taking this step seriously and evaluating all factors before signing off on any numbers is important.

This will greatly affect your ability to manage the time once the project begins. So take your time and come up with a project deadline that can be achieved with the resources you have and for the expected scope.

2 – Map out the project timeline

Once the project begins, take some time to create a Timeline for what has to be done. Specify your project stages and estimate a deadline for each of them, thus creating a view similar to a Gantt chart. By doing this, you will be able to see all the major parts of the project and when they have to be executed to meet the overall deadline.

No matter which project management technique you use, this will be a great reference point as the project progresses.

Creating a project timeline will be easier if this is not your first time working on a similar project. However, it is always a good idea to consult with your team and get their input on how long each phase will take. Also, consider planning for an earlier deadline, giving yourself some space for mistakes or unforeseen issues.

timeline view
Timeline view

3 – Manage your team’s availability

One more important thing to do at the beginning of your project is to check the availability of your resources. Ask your team members how much time they can spend on your project. This will help you manage the workload and assign time-sensitive tasks once the project starts.

Using a Workload view can be of great help as you are able to see the availability of all your team members and ensure no one is overworked.

4 – Assign time constraints to tasks

Once you have the overall timeline set and know your team’s availability, consider estimating how much time each of the tasks will take. By doing this, you will be able to see if each phase of the project can be completed in the given time. It will also help you better understand how much work each of your team members has.

This way, you will have even more control over how the project time is spent and will proactively manage the time constraint.

estimation picker
Estimation picker on Teamhood

5 – Track task time constraints against estimations

Once the work begins, ask your team to track their time on tasks. This is not to monitor their work but rather to see if your team can keep to the set schedule and rework plans when needed.

By seeing what time constraints were estimated for each task and how much time the team is taking to complete them, you can spot issues early on and replan the rest of the project so that you can still meet your schedule constraints. If, on the other hand, the tasks are being completed ahead of time, you can execute the project faster and consider adding additional features. More about time tracking.

Check out the best Kanban time-tracking tools.

6 – Analyze tracked time reports for insight

By tracking time spent on tasks, you can take even more control of the time constraint. It will allow you to analyze all of the tracked data and better estimate what can be expected of the team in the future.

A Timesheet report will show you the difference between each task’s estimation and actual tracked time. You can group tasks by projects, tags, teams, and other criteria and then review the overall result for that group as well. Thus, allowing you to understand better how each team performs and know what you can expect from them in the coming projects.

Monthly timesheet
Time sheet report

7 – Work in smaller iterations to stay flexible

It is important to monitor time, but you should also consider staying flexible in your process. Implementing short Agile iterations for the planning and execution of tasks will allow you and your team to shorten the reaction time and regroup faster.

For example, if you see certain tasks exceeding the time constraints, you will want to replan the rest of that phase or project to ensure it is still done on time. By working in short iterations, you can take action almost immediately and regroup by focusing on the most important tasks for the moment. However, if you planned the whole project in advance, this review may take much longer.

8 – Be prepared to adjust your plans

No matter how well you know your team, the project, and the risks, when we talk about time constraints, you have to be prepared to change your plans at any moment.

Only this way you can ensure that if and when changes happen, you do not panic and freeze but find a way to solve the issues and move forward in the best possible way.

9 – Delegation

Delegation is a crucial skill in time management and effective teamwork. It involves entrusting specific tasks or responsibilities to others on your team, allowing you to focus your time and energy on tasks requiring unique skills or decision-making. Here’s a more detailed explanation of the benefits and steps involved in learning to delegate effectively:

Benefits of Delegation:

  • Time Savings: Delegating tasks to others saves you time, enabling you to focus on high-priority activities that align with your role’s core responsibilities.
  • Efficiency: When tasks are assigned to team members with the necessary skills and expertise, they can often complete them more efficiently and effectively.
  • Skill Development: Delegation offers team members the opportunity to enhance their skills, learn new things, and take on additional responsibilities, fostering professional growth.
  • Improved Morale: Being entrusted with meaningful tasks can boost team members’ confidence and job satisfaction, leading to increased motivation and engagement.
  • Collaboration: Delegation encourages collaboration within the team, fostering a sense of shared ownership and accountability.

10 – Learning to say “no”

Learning to say no is essential to effective time management and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. It involves politely declining tasks, requests, or commitments that, if accepted, would stretch your resources too thin and negatively impact your ability to focus on your priorities. Here’s a more detailed explanation of the importance and strategies for learning to say no:

Importance of Learning to Say No:

  • Prioritization: Saying no allows you to allocate your time and energy to tasks that align with your goals, responsibilities, and values.
  • Time Management: Decreasing tasks that don’t contribute significantly to your objectives frees up time for more meaningful and high-priority activities.
  • Preventing Burnout: Overloading yourself with tasks can lead to burnout and decreased well-being. Saying no helps protect your mental and emotional health.
  • Respect for Boundaries: Asserting your limits by saying no establishes clear boundaries and helps others understand and respect your capacity.

Summary

The success of most projects is dependent on the project constraints. While all three (or six) of them are of great importance, time usually causes the most issues.

Not following time constraints can mean you are doomed from the very beginning of your projects and do not even have a fighting chance. While carefully monitoring and understanding the time constraint will help you reach the finish line victorious. So ensure you respect the project timeline and always stay mindful of resource availability to execute your projects on time.

Use Teamhood to manage the time constraint

Try out Teamhood for planning, visualizing, and effectively tracking your projects. The Gantt chart will let you set up the project stages, Kanban boards will let you visualize and track progress, and task estimations and due dates will allow for an easier understanding of the progress.

teamhood project gantt

Not sure how to get started? Take a look at the 25 Kanban board examples or pick one of the predesigned Kanban templates and start managing the time constraint immediately.

Time constraint FAQ

  • What are the main time constraints in a project?

    The most common time constraint factors are – schedule, deadlines, dependencies, and limited time to use resources.

  • Can the time constraint be affected by other project contraints?

    Yes, all of the project constraints affect each other. For example, a limited budget, means a limited amount of work hours from the team. Which translates into another time constraint for the project.

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