Home » Blog » How to Avoid Project Scheduling Conflicts?

As a project manager, you know well enough that creating an optimal project schedule is challenging, but you have plenty of project and resource management software and techniques at your disposal. Still, it’s possible that you’ll run into some scheduling issues. Things get even more complex when you’re working at a company responsible for delivering multiple projects at once. This is where the chance of schedule overlaps and double-booked employees is even higher.

Luckily, you can avoid most of the schedule-related conflicts by following the best practices of resource and project management. We’ve listed some tips below—follow them to manage your projects more successfully.

The unpleasant coming of project scheduling conflicts

Both terms are absolutely known. In business terms as well as in private life, such situations as the overlap of two important dates, and two important events are nothing new in the life of any human being. But mostly such a situation never makes things go better, or easier.

Generally speaking, in a project management environment, scheduling conflicts occur when a team member or an employee is assigned to more than two tasks or doubles shifts simultaneously. Such a situation is the source of two things and each of them has its own challenges behind it.

Many research addressing quitting from job issues indicates that among the top 5 all of the reasons are always a matter of scheduling or – in other words – flexibility. If you read the summary given by the PEW Research Center or that one from Gallup’s research, the conclusions are the same. Employee schedule determines his decision in terms of engagement and loyalty.

Does both can influence business and completing projects? Absolutely yes. Great handling of scheduling conflicts is another skill set among project managers who’re aiming higher.

Why do project scheduling conflicts arise?

Let’s take a moment to outline some of the most common causes of project scheduling issues. Once you understand them, it will be easier to pinpoint improvement areas in your project management process.

Create schedules without double booking or assigning two tasks in the same time slot

What can you do to avoid scheduling conflicts?

Granted, some circumstances are out of your control. Take the current situation, for example. As we’re publishing this blog post (June 2020), thousands or more of project schedules have been put on hold or altogether scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic. You can’t control everything that may happen to your project. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t introduce some preventive project management measures to keep scheduling conflicts away. 

Increase the visibility of your project and its schedule.

The easiest way to increase the visibility of project activities and team members working on them is to introduce a resource, an online calendar planner. It’s a space where all or designated employees can see which project people have been booked for, who has some time to spare (and may join another team that is struggling to keep up), who’s unavailable at all, etc. Teamdeck is the tool we’ve built to help companies better manage their teams and their projects:

Online calendars with team members insight to manage tasks
Utilization bar in Teamdeck.io - the resource management software

A central resource calendar will be especially appreciated by companies working on several projects at once. When you have a couple of schedules, deadlines, project teams, it’s that much difficult to avoid clashes or overlaps. Say that you want to add a new person to your project team. When you don’t see the schedule of other projects, you can only assume that they’ll manage the additional workload. With a single source of “scheduling truth”, every PM can actively avoid scheduling conflicts when planning a new project or adjusting the existing one.

Pay more attention to resource allocation.

In order to succeed with resource allocation, you have to determine what kind of people you need for your team. What are their desired skills? Will professional experience play a significant role? Perhaps particular geographical locations will be better because the employees will need to meet in person with the client? You may have several requirements for your “dream team”, and it’s important to spell them out. The risk of booking the first available group of people without paying attention to the factors listed above is that you will need to reallocate resources later on and potentially cause scheduling issues.

Of course, you also want to check if your team’s personal schedules are aligned with the timeline of the project. You can do that easily if your project planning tool stores time off data as well (Teamdeck does). Sure, you can’t always plan your schedule around people’s vacations: the key thing is to be aware of these absences or else you’re in store for a problem with the schedule.

Avoid project scheduling conflicts by increasing employee visibility with resource management
To prevent scheduling conflicts PM's, CMO's use project scheduling software

Effectively communicate with your team members.

Open communication and a sense of project transparency will help your team members as early as on the project estimation stage. While you shouldn’t expect your team members to come up with 100% precise estimates, the assumptions they provide need to be at least within the realm of possibility. How can you help? One thing project managers can do to support project estimation is to make sure that the team fully understands the project: business objectives, end-user needs, and all functional and non-functional requirements. This should help your employees create more realistic estimates. 

Identify the dependencies between tasks and roles within your team.

It’s one thing to keep in mind the dependencies between different tasks, but you also have to remember the dependencies between different roles in the project. Your front-end developer will only be able to fully work on the project when the designer delivers their part. If one person is late with their tasks, other people may follow suit simply because of dependencies between their roles.

Make sure your team is aware of these dependencies. Such an awareness will help them make better decisions at the estimation stage and prioritize their tasks later on.

Scheduling conflict can be related to one place, two places, one event, more events, meeting

Collaborate with other project managers, and communicate your intentions.

We’ve already mentioned that you need some visibility in the schedules of other projects at your company, especially if you’re using the same resource pool. But how can you get visibility into other people’s intentions? Let’s imagine you’re prepping for a new project and are about to assemble the team. You go through the list of employees and spot someone that would be a great fit. You decide to assign them to the project as soon as you get an official kick-off confirmation from the client. When that day comes, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise: another PM has already booked that employee for their project. If only you were able to “call dibs” on a particular makeup of the team...

With Teamdeck, you are able to communicate your intentions and book employees tentatively—just add a dedicated tag to your booking. You can also create custom tags to, for example, express different levels of urgency or confidence in a given booking. All in order to avoid conflicts with another project’s schedule.

Monitor the progress of your project.

Monitoring the project progress and reporting is a crucial part of project management: it allows you to keep stakeholders up to speed, but also better understand the health of the project yourself. Resource and project scheduling software, including Teamdeck, often enable you to create reports of project activities, time logged, resource utilization, etc. Use them to avoid having to adjust your schedule.

Overlapping events are mostly the main reason of scheduling conflict

For example, you need to regularly check the actual time tracked by your employees and compare it with the initial estimates. Is everything going more-less according to the plan? Great! On the other hand, a discrepancy between estimates and actuals may be an indicator of future scheduling issues.

Stop worrying about scheduling conflicts once and for all. Easy handling scheduling conflicts with resource planner

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