Posted by: Linda Russell | 14 August, 2008

Project Management Tools

I occasionally contribute to the Forums on allPM and recently there was a thread started on “How do you feel about network diagrams, Gantt charts, etc?”

My comment was:

“I’ve noticed that a number of people create a beautiful gantt chart which shows the project being completed on time, with nice neat task relationships, and then they sit back and leave it at that. If asked how the project is going, they say “Fine” because the chart looks fine. What they fail to do is update it with what’s actually happening and re-schedule it according to real progress.
If some tasks are taking longer than expected, are they going to continue at the same pace and if so, what impact will this have on the rest of the plan? If some tasks are ahead of schedule, what will be the effect on resources?
What I always say is, charts and schedules are only tools to help you manage better – they won’t give you the answers – and you must keep them up to date.”

In response, Harry Waldron said:

“Linda shares a good point Smile While team members and PMs always want to accentuate the positive, it’s also important to be realistic and truthful as well. Once a project plan is published, it’s important to measure and report real progresss against the baseline as tasks are being completed.

Sometimes for less critical and small projects, the initial exhibits will just be used to guide development and tasks won’t be updated against it. However, on most large projects I’ve been associated with, the milestones will be very carefully tracked and scruntinized as Linda suggests.”

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