The optimization of project management in interior design forms the top priority of any interior designer. Project management and coordination is a massive undertaking that requires effective scheduling, bidding, budgeting, contract administration, deficiency listing and decommissioning, and post-occupancy evaluation. To effectively achieve this, it is the duty of an interior designer to plan, schedule, monitor, coordinate, direct, close projects, and carry out follow-ups with the client as effectively as possible. Any project management exercise is steered by a project manager, who organizes and coordinates its schedule as well as keeping track of all its activities. Depending on the complexity and scope of a project, the processes of scheduling are of utmost importance and qualify to be optimized at any time.
All planning and coordination activities occur during the scheduling process. Scheduling is an internal strategic planning tool that begins before hiring the interior designer. Also known as the pre-design work, scheduling begins with gathering the behind-the-scenes data for baseline information. From these initial steps, the exact scope of work and the fees to be paid to the interior designer will be identified. Other crucial information that will be identified during this preliminary stage includes the client preferences, scopes of work, stakeholders involved, and the type of design.
A project manager is involved in the project from its very beginning whereby he helps in defining the project scope. These include tasks, deadlines, goals, and costs related to the project. When a need arises, the project can be rescheduled accordingly to reflect the new designs. Similarly, if the dream project runs afloat, there arises another need to alter the design (Fischer et al., 2017). This will be achieved through rescheduling the options, and the same must be communicated effectively by the project manager.
While scheduling an interior design project, the project manager will be required to involve the expertise of specialized consultants such as architects, contractors, graphic designers, electricians, telecommunication personnel, and landscapers among others. The project manager will be responsible for scheduling the work of these consultants as well as managing them. Indeed, understanding the needs of the client as well as the input of diverse and respective consultants will have significant effects on the scope of work for the project. This underscores the importance of having them on board and scheduling their tasks from the very start of the project (LeFevre, 2019). Each of the consultants will be expected to come up with appropriate design specifications and drawings for different project schedules.
The scheduling process is prominently defined during contracting, proposals, and time and fee estimations stages. It is important to clearly spell out all the contractual arrangements that the project owner has with all the relevant parties. For instance, if the interior designer’s work is only limited to working in the house, the same must be clearly stated in the contractual agreement. Outside works will be done by a different project management professional as per the terms of the agreement. Scheduling also entails agreeing on the contractual arrangements between the project owner and the consultants. In many cases, it is easier for the owner to hire consultants by himself rather than abdicating the responsibility to the project manager. However, even though this saves the project manager a substantial amount of workload, it also dilutes his influence on the consultants. These are issues that must be scheduled appropriately during the preliminary phases of the project.
Another significant element of scheduling is the fee and time estimation. While scheduling, it is important to figure out if the money allocated for the project will be sufficient to finish it up as intended. One of the most effective ways of dealing with this is to design a detailed fee project chart that will schedule the exact amounts that are allocated to various projects. Such a chart must be scheduled within the work schedules of different consultants. It should contain two columns; one highlighting the scheduled tasks and the other showcasing the time periods that are each row is designated. After developing the chart, the project manager does the real scheduling by estimating the percentages of time and money that will be required in each phase of the project (Fischer et al., 2017). This is then divided by each rate of billing and the respective member of staff to come up with the approximate number of hours that can be allocated and the expected profits.
Scheduling remains a critical element to the management of any project. In addition to the provision of a time plan, it also helps in determining if enough budget and staff are allocated to each facet of a project. However, it is important to note that various works are performed by different consultants in any particular project management task. For instance, an interior designer will do scheduling while a contractor will do construction schedule. If done appropriately and effectively, it can provide the exact date of delivery of the project. Lately, there are several computer software that is used to aid different project management scheduling especially those involving major projects.
There are two different ways upon which the scheduling process can be demonstrated; bar or grant chart and critical path method (CPM) chart. The bar or grant chart is a type of schedule that appears in a chart format and provides a list of individual tasks against the timelines. This is a simple format of scheduling and can be easily understood by everyone. They are most favorable in small or medium-scale projects. However, they do not show dependencies and sequences, which makes them inappropriate for big management projects. On its part, the CPM chart is a diagram that displays both the earliest and latest possible time for completing the project. Through the CPM chart, specific tasks that are likely to influence the finishing date of the project are identified. This is referred to as the critical path and is depicted using a heavy or thick line on the CPM diagram.
Other project management terminologies associated with scheduling include milestones, sequencing, and fast-tracking. Milestones refer to project management tools used in marking particular points along the timeline of a project. Milestones are mainly symbolic and do not have significant impacts on the duration of a project, neither are they associated with time. Instead, they primarily focus on the main points of progress for the success of any project. On its part, sequencing refers to the arrangement process of tasks following the order that they should be completed. For instance, in interior designing electrical wiring and plumbing should be completed before the designer embarks on drywalling. Meanwhile, fast-tracking refers to doing several activities in parallel with each other to hasten the project.
In conclusion, the scheduling process is at the very core of project planning, implementation, and decommissioning. It provides the estimated timelines and budgetary allocations for projects. It is from the scheduling process that a project manager and other consultants will postulates the course, resources needed for the project and the timeline. Without it, a project will turn out to be a mess. Therefore, it deserves to be accorded a priority in a project management process.
Fischer, M., Khanzode, A., Reed, D., & Ashcraft, H. (2017). Integrating project delivery. Wiley.
LeFevre, M. (2019). Managing design: Conversations, project controls, and best practices for commercial design and construction projects. John Wiley & Sons.