Chris Croft
Tips of the Month Archive

Project Management Tip 9


Blow your own trumpet

Be assertive at the start

What is a Gantt Chart?

Avoiding people problems

Listing all the tasks

Internal projects

How to discover the key project driver

Three methods of project costing

Why I love Gantt charts

Three ways to handle uncertainty

Overspend or underspend?

Why PM is difficult

My instant guide

Why review?

Some eccentric PM abbreviations

What exactly is a PID?

Its never too late to plan

Why PM is good

Good questions to ask a project manager

Why I love Gantt charts

Do you have a Gantt chart for each one of your projects, on your wall? If not, here's why I think they are worth it:

1. Communication: everyone can see the project, where they fit in, and why if they go late they will affect others.

2. Monitoring progress - by colouring in the Gantt chart you can make sure you're keeping up with the Today line, and you can take action as required if you're not keeping up (crashing tasks, slipping the programme, whatever). Without a coloured-in Gantt chart you can only say you're about half way through and probably on schedule - not good enough! Your weekly or monthly progress meetings will probably be based around the Gantt chart (you do have these don't you??)

3. Planning loading - by looking vertically you can see the weeks or months when everything is going to hit at once, so you can slide some of the floating tasks to reduce the peaks, and even if you can't level out the peaks you can plan accordingly - extra people, overtime, or taking longer over the project.

4. The big loading over-view: you can add up all your projects and make sure that the department as a whole will be able to cope with the total planned workload and therefore keep it's promises. And of course if it can't you can use this loading plan to either get the customers to choose which project they want first (they can't have them all) or to lobby for more resources using logic and without appearing negative or pessimistic.

5. The Gantt chart can be used to generate a predicted cost curve, since it shows the amount of labour and the moments of capital expenditure during the project. then, during the project, you can make sure you stick to the plan. Without a predicted cost curve you are reduced to hoping that the rate of expenditure will be approximately linear - unlikely!

6. Interpreting cost figures: the accountants are telling you that you're underspent: but is that good? Only if you're keeping up with progress! More likely you're running late and that's why you're underspent. Maybe you're a long way behind, and for the work you have done you're OVER spent? The Gantt chart is the only way you can know this.

7. Assessing whether subcontractors know what they are doing - ask to see their Gantt chart - they do have one don't they? If not - worry! During the project have a regular meeting to see how the colouring-in of progress is getting on.

7. Blowing your own trumpet - why not show your boss and your customers that you are in control, that you know what's going on with your project.

So there we are: Gantt charts: go on, you know you want one!.

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