I have been running a complicated scheduling project at work this week … lots of senior people with ‘challenging’ diaries having to do lots of things that are dependent upon others also completing complementary actions in a defined order before a very hard stop in May.
Yes, enough to give anyone brain ache!
The scheduling and diary management could be positively nightmarish if not approached in a systematic way!
Fortunately as an experienced Executive Assistant, a born organiser and a trained Prince2 practitioner this is just the kind of project that I find hugely enjoyable and stretching.
However I do understand that for many the first words of this blog will be making them feel light headed and panicky …. not everyone is cut our for project management but small business owners have to employ the skills at some point or another in the interests of advancing their companies goals.
And when the need arises?
You should be aware that a badly run project will end up being more expensive, won’t come in on time and is in serious danger of not being the answer to the problem that you set out to solve.
So, if your business is not big enough yet to employ someone to do this for you here is one way to make sure you are going in the direction that your business needs – I feel a Project Management series coming on!
And now back to Gantt Charts, and their brilliance!
The first thing I did when confronted with this particular project last week?
I started to think about a Gantt Chart.
And before you start to, you don’t need any spectacular and expensive software to put one together. Given that most companies only supply relatively expensive PM software to dedicated Project Managers I have learnt from experience that you really only need Excel and some very basic skills.
For today I am going to focus on the headline benefits but there will be some more practical ‘How To’ Blogs to follow shortly.
One of the greatest benefits of a Gantt chart is the ability to boil down multiple tasks and timelines into a single document that any stakeholder can easily understand. It simply and simultaneously shows where teams are in a process while giving an overview of the ways independent elements come together.
One important yet often overlooked part of Project Management is people resource management. A Gantt chart allows you to sequence events with an eye on reducing the potential for overburdening team members. As a very visual medium highlighting how different teams/ tasks intertwine they can also sometimes encourage new partnerships/ collaborations that might not have evolved under traditional task assignment systems.
3. Individual Working Styles
Whilst an overall project/ programme Gantt chart gives a big picture view it has the significant upside of allowing flexibility for the teams working on the various separate elements. Whatever their preferences of time management and working style they can plug their own work habits into the overall project schedule.Some project managers even use combinations of charts to break down projects into more manageable sets of tasks.
4. Better Collaboration
Scheduling and Time Management are one of the major benefits of Gantt charts. One thing that it particularly does is helps teams understand the overall impact of project delays and can foster stronger collaboration.
The ability to issue new versions of charts as your project evolves lets you react to unexpected changes in scope or timeline. Changes as a project progresses are inevitable and all part of the natural evolution and offering a real time and realistic view of a project can help team members recover from setbacks and adjust to changes.
Another one of the benefits is the ability for teams members to leverage each other’s deadlines for maximum efficiency. For instance, while one team member waits on the outcome of three other tasks before starting a crucial piece of the assignment, he or she can perform other project tasks. Visualizing resource usage allows everyone to make better use of people, places, and things.
Projects, whatever the size and scope, are simply puzzles to be worked out. Any tool that helps you visualize all of the pieces of that puzzle helps you to make more focused, effective decisions about resources and timetables.