Scheduling Projects

I meet a lot of web designers. In the last month I’ve probably talked with over 25 different web designers here in Phoenix. I’ve made it a practice to go out of my way and meet people who do what I do.

One thing I’m interested in and usually ask is “How many projects do you typically have going?”

The response is typically between 3-6 web site projects. Usually an agency can have a dozen projects. Everybody has between 2 and a dozen projects on the horizon.

My question to you dear reader is this: How do you go about scheduling your projects? How many projects do you typically have going at once, and are you confident enough in your project schedule that you can tell people “I can’t start then, but I can start on this date.”

Project scheduling is one area that I tend to struggle with. I put hours into project planning, timetable creation, and scheduling, yet I constantly have emergencies that when thrown in the mix jumble everything up. It’s easy to get behind. Sometimes I think it’s because I have a large number of projects going (right now I have 8 or so) and more on the horizon (12 prospective projects currently). I work with other designers on a near constant basis with outsourced web work.

My goal is to be able to get a new project and be able to say “this is the day we’re beginning your project and this is the day we will be done” – and have that actually happen.

The real world cuts in more often and one of two things happen:

#1. A high priority client calls and has an emergency project. So we end up scrambling resources to get the job done.

#2. We do our part and then wait, and wait, and wait for the client to respond and complete their responsibilites. Then when they do, it’s suddenly urgent and we have to fit the project into our schedule again.

So my question is this: How do you schedule your projects? Share your story.

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