Join Chris Croft for an in-depth discussion in this video Conducting monthly meetings using a Gantt chart, part of Project Management Simplified.
- You'll be monitoring the progress of your project with either a weekly or a monthly meeting depending on the total length of your project. At that weekly or monthly meeting, the best way to monitor the progress of your project is to color in the Gantt chart. It's very easy, all you do, you have a now line and let's say it's week 25 in my example. You'll have a now line, this now line used to be a piece of string people used to move it along in the old days but now days it'll be on a computer. That shows where we are now and that moves along every week or every month.
Then you color in the tasks that you've done. Let's say for example that we've chosen our country, we've got the permit, we found a site. And that's all we've done. You can immediately see that we're way behind schedule. What we want to see is that we've got a manager as well, that we've bought the site and we've started modifying the building. By looking at a colored in Gantt chart, you can immediately see whether the progress is okay or not. And if I only had one minute to check on a project manager, if I was managing someone else's project, if I was managing a project manager, the one question I would ask is, "Can I have a look at your colored in Gantt chart?" If they say to me, "What's a Gantt chart?" I would worry, because it means they don't have any control over their project.
Because this really is the only way to control your progress. If you don't have a colored in Gantt chart, you're wide open to stories. What will happen is you'll say to them, "How's the project getting on?" And they'll say, "Oh, it's going really well, yes we've found a lovely site "would you like to see some photographs "and we got the permit, "it was quite difficult but we got it." And you're thinking, "Well that's all very good but what else should you have done by now?" Of course what we know from looking at this, is they also should have bought the site and started modifying it by now. But you can't tell, unless there's a Gantt chart to look at.
So it's incredibly important to have a look at this. Just a final thought about the coloring in of Gantt charts, there are actually two ways to color in. Some people use what's known as color when complete. You don't color a task in until it's finished. Other people use proportional coloring, so that if you've done a quarter of a task then you color in a quarter of it. You can probably see there are pros and cons with both of these. Because if you use color when complete, it doesn't really give you any information until that task is finished. Proportional coloring gives you more information but it is prone to self deception.
It's very easy to say, "Well, I think we're half way though that." And something like getting a permit, I don't think you can really color that in until it's complete. The main thing is, you need to decide which method you're going to use and stick to it. If you start mixing it within the same diagram, it can get confusing. To sum that up, if you're managing a project manager ask to see a colored in Gantt chart. If you're running a project yourself, you will want a colored in Gantt chart so you know where you are at all times. So it might be worth just thinking about yourself for the project you're running at the moment.
Did you create a Gantt chart at the beginning and then just file it and never look at it? Or have you got a Gantt chart that's a live document that you're coloring in as you go? If not, maybe that would be a good idea.
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- Defining project scope
- Deciding how to list tasks
- Estimating costs and time
- Planning for risk
- Staying on budget