Why sticking to project timelines is important

At this point, it’s no secret that the Lemonly project management (PM) team LOVES to talk about timelines. But it might be time to fully explain why these timelines are so important to both our clients and our team.

Before the PM team gets their paws on a project, our business development team discusses the job’s goals with the client, then lays out start dates and deadlines based on the amount of work that’s currently in our queue. The PM team is responsible for keeping that queue up to date so we all know when and where a new project fits into our flow.

Of course, the most important part of any timeline is that final due date, which is discussed on the kickoff call. On that call, clients give us their ideal due date, and the PM builds the project timeline backwards from there.

Hitting the final due date is extremely important, so we want to work together to make sure every deadline leading up to that date is observed and agreed upon before we get started. When a feedback deadline is missed, all future deadlines must slide back accordingly.

Project managers are sometimes asked why this is, and that’s a really good question! 

When we build out that initial project timeline, we keep a few things in mind:

Desired deadline

  • When does the client need their final files?

Minimum amount of time to complete work

  • It typically takes our designers close to a week to completely understand a project’s goals and specifics, find the perfect piece of inspiration, then whip up a first draft of wireframe or design.

Current queue

  • Is a designer working on multiple client projects in different phases at the same time? If so, what can we plan to have in their court while the other project is being reviewed by the client? It’s like Tetris.

Time off

  • Is there a major client stakeholder who will be out and can’t review on certain days, or perhaps a holiday coming up?

A healthy bit of urgency

  • Since we know everyone wants to see their finished product as soon as possible, we tend to focus on moving things along rather than building in extra days for unforeseen holdups.

Once we all come together on a timeline, the dates for that project are reserved on our designer’s calendar. When a deadline is missed, though, it’s not always possible for us to get that back to the front of the queue right away when we do receive feedback, as we may have moved to the next thing in the queue or have other deadlines to hit on those days.

We take each project’s timeline seriously and care about the success of all client work equally. We always do our best to make things work, but there are times when missed deadlines mean shifts have to happen.

Each Lemonly PM has a natural propensity for ticking boxes off our to-do list, and every project that goes past its due date means we missed our goal. With a little help from our clients, we can make sure everyone comes away with a smile on their face and an infographic that’s finished on time!