Customer Reporting

There are more than thirty visual methods for representing activities. The method chosen should depend on the intended audience. For example, upper-level management may be interested in costs and integration of activities, with very little detail. Summary-type charts normally suffice for this purpose. Daily practitioners, on the other hand, may require considerable detail. For customers, the presentation should include cost and performance data.

When presenting cost and performance data, figures and graphs should be easily understood and diagrams should quickly convey the intended message or objective. In many organizations, each department or division may have its own method of showing scheduling activities. Research and development organizations prefer to show the logic of activities rather than the integration of activities that would normally be representative of a manufacturing plant.

The ability to communicate is a prerequisite for successful management of a program. Program review meetings, technical interchange meetings, customer summary meetings, and in-house management control meetings all require different representative forms of current program performance status. The final form of the schedule may be bar charts, graphs, tables, bubble charts, or logic diagrams. These are described in the sections that follow.

The most common type of display is the bar or Gantt chart, named for Henry Gantt, who first utilized this procedure in the early 1900s. The bar chart is a means of displaying simple activities or events plotted against time or dollars. An activity represents the amount of work required to proceed from one point in time to another. Events are described as either the starting or ending point for either one or several activities.

Bar charts are most commonly used for exhibiting program progress or defining specific work required to accomplish an objective. Bar charts often include such items as listings of activities, activity duration, schedule dates, and progress-to-date. Figure 13-1 shows nine activities required to start up a production line for a new product. Each bar in the figure represents a single activity. Figure 13-1 is a typical bar chart that would be developed by the program office at program inception.

Bar charts are advantageous in that they are simple to understand and easy to change. They are the simplest and least complex means of portraying progress (or the lack of it) and can easily be expanded to identify specific elements that may be either behind or ahead of schedule.

Bar charts provide only a vague description of how the entire program or project reacts as a system, and have three major limitations. First, bar charts do not show the in-terdependencies of the activities, and therefore do not represent a "network" of activities. This relationship between activities is crucial for controlling program costs. Without this relationship, bar charts have little predictive value. For example, does the long-lead procurement activity in Figure 13-1 require that the contract be signed before

Project Management Made Easy

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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