Project Schedule Preparation Gantt Chart

The development of an overall project schedule can be conducted using a Gantt chart, the most commonly used tool for displaying project schedules. It allows for a clear snapshot of the project at a glance. There are numerous project scheduling software tools available on the market today that allow the project manager to create a schedule, allocate resources, and identify the critical path. However, in creating the Gantt chart, the project manager needs to understand how to create a basic chart. The minimum information shown displayed on a Gantt chart consists of:

A horizontal time scale displaying the project by days, months, or years

A list of project activities and milestones displayed vertically on the left-hand side of the chart

Allocation of manpower and material resources to each activity Proportional bar indicating the duration of each activity indicated on the horizontal axis

I have always found it useful to follow some process when developing the Gantt or schedule, and I use a seven-step process to assist me in creating the project schedule (see Figure 5.4).

Review the project calendar (to identify holidays, vacations, etc.). Assess the time constraints on the project (e.g., completion date, dependencies, etc.).

Start sequencing the tasks (e.g., logical progression of tasks). Determine the resources needed (e.g., identify skills, technologies, budget, etc.).

Estimate the task duration(s) and verify time involved per task. Identify the shortest route from start to finish between tasks (i.e., the critical path).

Develop the project schedule using the above steps.

ID

Task Name

Stan

End

Duration

Resource Nama

Partem Complete

20QZ

5003

Jsn Feb Mm Ac mj An JJ

Aug, Sep Oct Nov Dec

Jw

1

Task 1

1/9/1002

2/5/2002

4w

Project Manager

100%

m

2

Task 2

2/6/02

4/15/2002

9w4d

Analyst

50%

3

Task 3

4/16/02

8/15/2002

17w3d

Developers

0%

^mmm

4

Task 4

3/12/02

4/2&2002

6w 4d

Supplier

50%

mm

5

Task 5

5/21/2002

B/5/2002

11 w

Tester, OA

0%

■m

b

e

Task C

3/27/02

9/16/2002

3w

Stakeholders

0%

Cm

7

Task 7

9/17/02

9/17/2002

Ow

Project manager

0%

>*

Figure 5.4: Preparing the schedule

However, while preparing the Gantt chart, it is important to understand the relationship between project activities. Dependencies that are incorrectly estimated will influence the entire schedule from now onward, and the project manager may have to start the schedule over. Remember that the relationship between two activities is where one activity depends on the start or finish of another activity in order to begin or end. The activity that depends on the other activity is the successor and the task it depends upon is the predecessor. Figure 5.5 shows the dependencies commonly used when creating a schedule.

Finish-Start (PS) Relationship

Activity 9 cannot start until Activity A is com pi eta

Finish-Finish (FF) Relationship

Activity B cannot finish until Activity A is finished

Start-Start (SS) Relationship

Activity B cannot start until Activity A is started

Starl-Finish (SF) Relationship

Activity B cannot start until Activity A is started

Figure 5.5: Defining task relationships

In the process of developing the project schedule, it is common for some project durations to be unknown, and guessing isn't entirely accurate either. Maybe too much padding has been added or the duration has been reduced by too many days or even weeks. This assessment is often unrealistic and dishonest. In the event that the above values cannot be estimated, then the project manager should rely on the expertise of the SMEs to assist with estimating the duration. They will be able to provide more accurate values to use in calculating the average duration for a project task. In this scenario, the weighted-average time technique is used in order to determine the expected average duration for a given task. The formula is as follows:

Most Optimistic Value (4 x Most Likely Value)

Projects that exceed cost and time due to bad estimates can cause the company to face financial losses. The consequences include lost business opportunities and failure to bringing the product to market ahead of the competition. Accurate estimates reduce the risk of project overruns, thereby sharply curtailing negative business effects. This is why so many businesses are relying on the parametric based estimates. Accurately estimating project costs and schedules is vital in determining the success of a project.

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Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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