The Fine Art of Scheduling – The Format of Project Schedules – Gantt charts (#32 in the Hut A Project Management Primer)
By Nick Jenkins
Why the fine “art” of scheduling?
If it were a science then every project would be delivered on time!
This sadly is not the case. Overruns are so common that most people have no faith in project deadlines. In truth, the art of scheduling is based on experience and the more experience you have, the more accurate your schedule will be. However, you can still produce a good schedule by following some simple rules.
One useful tool available to project managers is a Gantt chart. This is simply a visual representation of a schedule. In a Gantt chart, time is represented along a horizontal axis and tasks listed down the left-hand side. The duration of a task is then represented in the body of the graph by a horizontal bar. Read the Complete Article
Managing the Project Time – The Official Approach (How It Looks on Paper) (#2 in the series Managing the Project Time)
By Joseph Phillips
In the perfect project-management world, which doesn’t exist, there is a logical, practical approach to calculating how long a project should take to complete. Let’s pretend that we’re living in this perfect project management world and see how things should go.
First we work with the customer to define the product scope—describing the thing that they want us to create. Then we create the project scope—all of the required work and only the required work to create the product scope. And then, boy oh boy, we create the work breakdown structure (WBS).
The WBS is not a list of the activities to complete the project. That’s right. The WBS is a deliverables-oriented decomposition of the project deliverables—not the project work. Once we’ve created the WBS, we can generate a list of the activities that the project team will need to perform to create the identified deliverables. Read the Complete Article
Creating The Project Scope – Activity Definition (#9 in the series Creating The Project Scope)
By Joseph Phillips
Sigh of relief, right? Once we have the WBS created we can then define the needed activities to actually create the deliverables that the customer is waiting for. We need to identify all the deliverables that the project will create so that we can identify all the activities to create the project.
Joseph Phillips is the author of five books on project management and is a, PMI Project Management Professional, a CompTIA certified Project Professional, and a Certified Technical Trainer. For more information about Project Management Training, please visit Project Seminars. Read the Complete Article
Critical Path Mapping with Activity Network Diagrams
By Steven Bonacorsi
The activity network diagram is a method of displaying the timelines of all the various subtasks that are involved in any project. By doing this, the total task duration and the earliest and latest start and finish times for each task are also calculated and displayed. In addition to showing which subtasks are critical to on-time task completion, the activity network diagram can help determine where extra effort to speed a subtask will have the greatest payoff to overall speed.
The activity network diagram has had a relatively long history, dating back to the 1930s. In the 1950s, the technique emerged as the Program Evaluation Research Technique (PERT) and as the Critical Path Method (CPM). There are several ways to represent the output of the PERT/CPM process.
The method called the activity-on-arrow or, more simply, the arrow diagram will be reviewed in this article. Read the Complete Article
What are Gantt Charts?
Gantt charts (also referred to as project timelines) are bar graphs that help plan and monitor project development or resource allocation on a horizontal time scale.
Typically, Gantt charts indicate the exact duration of specific tasks, but they can also be used to indicate:
- The relationship between tasks
- Planned and actual completion dates
- Cost of each task
- The person or persons responsible for each task
- The milestones in a project’s development
Gantt charts are also used by supervisors and team leaders to schedule team members for various time dependent tasks such as visiting clients, making sales calls, being on medical call, being on guard duty, and more.
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Five Tips for Effective Gantt Charts
- Make your Gantt chart easy to read by color coding your task bars. For example, if all the marketing tasks are blue and all the production tasks are red, it will be easier to identify department responsibilities at a glance.
Include a legend below your chart (or on a separate page) explaining the colors of the bars and the meaning of any milestone markers.
Keep your Gantt chart concise by excluding trivial sub-steps. If a task needs to be analyzed in greater detail, create a second Gantt chart.
Give a copy of the Gantt Chart to each team member and review responsibilities and milestones.
Update the chart periodically to reflect the realities of your ongoing project.
SmartDraw.com is the creator of SmartDraw, the world’s most popular business graphics software and the first program that makes it possible for ordinary computer users to create presentation-quality business graphics in minutes. Read the Complete Article
Duration of a Task
By Meade Rubenstein
An often overlooked but important question is ‘How Long should a project task be?’. The simple response is ‘as long as it needs to be……’ but wrong. Project tasks are tracked to reduce the risk of slippage – so the task duration needs to be such that it can be definitively tracked and provides soon enough feedback to allow the PM to react to if it is slipping. An extreme example is a task being the same duration of the project. ‘Sure, I’ll get that done by the end of the project…..’ – yep, right. The right answer to the task duration question is dependent on a few things: how long is the project, how critical is the task, how much time can you afford to lose with the task such that it does not greatly impact the project delivery.
The way I approach it is that a single tasks, for a mid to large size project, should not be less then 1 week or more then 2 weeks – BUT – it’s all dependent on how critical the task is. Read the Complete Article
How to Avoid Task Dependency Hell
By Alec Clews
A rather obvious point really, but often teams and organisations stagnate in a cesspit of inactivity because everything depends on something else, which of course also depends on something else. Soon it feels as if nothing can be done and everything is delayed waiting for someone else to do something.
There are two answers. The quick fix and the long term management of work.
The answer is to “Just do it”. Break the work in hand down into smaller pieces and find something that does not have a dependency, then do it! Repeat as required.
If you can’t find anything without a dependency then work around and do the best you can without needing the dependency
Long Term Answer
Read the Complete Article
- ‘Design’ work as a set of loosely coupled activities with small, well considered, dependencies. Of course the activities need to be coherent and internally cohesive.