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Steps to Build a Schedule: Follow-Up and Follow-Through

written by: Joe Taylor Jr. • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 12/28/2008

Because schedules are rarely set in stone, project managers can use follow-up and follow-through techniques to ensure that team members can stay on track.

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    Follow-Up

    Following up on scheduled tasks helps project managers identify some of the challenges that could cause team members to miss deadlines. Even with the Monte Carlo strategy for allocating time and resources to tasks, project managers should spend time each week making sure that no tasks or individuals fall too far outside the predicted margin for error. Correcting problems early in the project can achieve the goal of limiting the number of overall schedule changes over the life of a project.

    Managers often take different approaches to following up with team members about project schedules. Some managers prefer to host live project meetings, while others rely on automated reporting tools. While following up ineffectively can seem like micromanagement to team members, effective discovery of actual task completion time can show project managers whether they allocated enough resources for each element of an initiative. Therefore, the most powerful follow-up techniques involve collaboration with team members. Communicating team progress and rewarding high achievement can inspire team members to push through challenges and to meet deadlines.

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    Follow-Through

    Without the ability to follow through on project changes, managers have little ability to help their teams succeed. If during a follow-up exercise, managers uncover a potential efficiency issue, they can act quickly to add more resources or to adjust overall timelines. Doing nothing in this kind of scenario can lead to low morale and poor output quality, in addition to missed deadlines.

    Follow-though involves:

    • documentation of information gained from the follow-up process,

    • further discussion or decision-making, and

    • communication of changes made based on the new information.

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    Evolving Schedules Based on Team Feedback

    Following up and following through on task responsibilities gives project managers the power to make informed decisions that can impact overall schedules. However, effective project managers also understand how to make themselves available for feedback from team members. When crucial information reaches a project manager outside follow-up and follow-through procedures, team leaders must assess the validity of the message and its potential implications. Creating a formal, and even anonymous, way for team members to influence schedule updates helps to prevent “groupthink" problems, such as scheduling too little time for task completion.