During the phase of bringing your product to life, you will always need to have some form of indication on when certain tasks should be, are, and will be completed. Usually, this task management is overseen by a project engineer or manager but, if this is your own product, then the job is essentially up to you. While it may seem like an overwhelming and daunting task, project management and timing plans are easy to manage and can be done without any dedicated management software.
Timing plans are effective to use when coordinating your overall project to include such factors as the design process and other controllable stages in the invention process. While marketing and sales are often less predictable, certain milestones within these processes can be recorded and managed if necessary. To create effective timing plans, you will have to meet with each supplier that you have chosen for the process to better understand the times that they have allocated to complete the project. These times are referred to as milestones and form the main structure of your overall timing plan.
If you are unhappy with the first batch of samples, the supplier may need to make modifications to the dies. This means that the process reverts back to Step #3 or machining the tools. I advise that you add additional steps to your project and timing plan in order to account for any steps that require reworking or revisiting. Adding a buffer to your plan will ensure that you do not end up with too many unexpected surprises, which will allow you for more time to spare. With this in mind, the new plan should resemble something similar to the following.
Once you complete your timing plans, you can highlight the stages as they are completed to determine if you are ahead or behind in the process. If you are on a fixed schedule, then you can request the suppliers to work longer hours to make up for any lost time. It will, however, be up to you to enforce the times because, if the suppliers feel as though they can drag their feet through the process, they will.