Are You a Slave to Project Management?

Gantt charts – loathe them or like them?

They are a essential software in a undertaking manager’s toolkit. Nevertheless, an unseasoned job manager can uncover that they can choose in excess of the project and outcome in minimized handle. How so? In this posting we will search at their prospective pitfalls and present some strategies and methods for making certain profitable project management. Gantt charts are, after all, just just one of lots of means of presenting the job planning and genuine info that has been input.

To start we will be distinct that we are not going to deal in this article with repetitive implementation / rollout initiatives in which a template plan has been refined about a series of projects and results in being a common checklist for project management (for illustration for COTS – commercial off-the-shelf program). This report is about individuals a person off (or original template check out-out) initiatives. These jobs may be within organisations tiny, medium and large.

Most larger sized organisations have effectively developed and operate ‘IT’ departments. They usually have formal project offices with recognized plan templates and standards, with project place of work workers and automatic plan investigation techniques (for instance looking for orphan jobs / missing dependencies and so on to evaluate in general ‘plan quality’). Smaller sized organisations – for case in point, ‘IT methods houses’ – may absence this amount of sophistication but will certainly use detailed project plans.

What is very good about Gantt charts?

Gantt charts are an superb structure for presenting dependency and development facts, but as with most points in life, the returns will be dependent on the financial commitment. So, the a lot more treatment that goes into the challenge plan details set-up, then the superior will be the opinions. On the other hand, there is a danger that the amount of detail that can be created into the regular venture plan can itself demand a disproportionate amount of project management maintenance. We will not go into great detail right here, but dependency and crucial path management are of significant worth. So, ‘sweating the detail’ in the plan is vital at the outset.

This leads to the true project management overhead getting out of kilter with the spending plan allocation. What suffers then? An overloaded project management group, beneath-managed plan / actual info or both even alongside one another. The result is Gantt chart slavery.

So, how do we stay clear of this paradox (aside from endless budgets)?

The method really should be based mostly on a extensive Possibility Assessment of a task at or right before formal startup. The chance areas to be deemed will absolutely contain:

– organisational politics and readiness

– organisational technology literacy

– organisational employees capabilities stage

– engineering proposal

– business threat (eg current market / competitive pressure diploma of procedure change demanded)

– timescale – rate of business change

– source which includes $ availability

– determination of sponsors

The final result ought to be categorisation of the challenge as Reduced, Reasonable or Significant Complexity. Take note that a Average Complexity task may perhaps have a Substantial Complexity stage (and this one-way links back to Contingent Project Management – dynamic tuning of the project management approach by itself all through the project).

These differing amounts of Complexity would need differing stages of project management effort allotted in the resource spending plan. A rough manual would be:

Small Complexity – project management effort and hard work 7-11% of total useful resource spending budget

Average Complexity – project management exertion 12-17% of total source price range

Large Complexity – project management work 18-22% or extra, of general useful resource price range

Unquestionably these figures will feel inordinately high to some supervisors. Having said that, more than 30% of projects are deemed failures – and failure is generally the result of insufficient project management (which incorporates Risk Assessment and Management). So, the ‘buck stops’ at the quality or amount of project management.

What has all this got to do with Gantt charts?


– job plan construction need to mirror the hazard assessment priorities with uncomplicated milestones / gateways

– the degree of detail designed into task plan database ought to be proportional to the challenge complexity

– management reporting requirements ought to be proportional to undertaking complexity, which then drives the maintenance overhead.

Then, the upkeep prerequisite is focused on what really issues. The Gantt charts replicate that, with the diploma of element proportional to the phase hazard.

This usually means that a project supervisor arrives to the place of work each working day thinking ‘How do I transfer the project ahead nowadays in the direction of that milestone’? and not ‘another 4 hrs collecting info and 2 several hours inputting it before I can get any actual work done’.

This will make the the task manager’s part 1 of pro-motion and not a single of administration, and make improvements to the attained value.

(c) 2010 Phil Marks