Happy’s Essential Skills: Project/Program Management


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My first opportunity to use the Gantt Chart was as part of my Senior Project while in college. At that time, it was all manual. Today, numerous software packages offer it along with other project visibility techniques (Figure 1):

  • Gantt Chart
  • Pert Chart
  • Critical Path Analysis
  • Affinity Diagrams
  • Gap Analysis
  • TimeLine

Happy_Fig1.jpg 

Figure 1: Some of the visualization tools used for project management

No matter what your job, you may have to manage, or play an active role in, a project at some point during your career. It takes a great deal of skill to do this well, but the time you invest in building good project management skills can pay off enormously.

You contribute to meeting an organization's objectives by completing projects on time and on budget. This can produce real business results and enhance your reputation. And when you know how to organize, schedule and delegate tasks, you make yourself more visible for promotions.

Gantt Chart

In the late 1800s, Polish engineer Karol Adamiecki developed a visual work flow chart that he called a "harmonogram."

In around 1910, Henry Gantt, a management consultant and engineer, took Adamiecki's concept to the next stage. His chart was designed to help manufacturing supervisors see whether their work was on, ahead of, or behind schedule, and it formed the foundation of the tool we use today.

When you set up a Gantt chart, you need to think through all of the tasks involved in your project. As part of this process, you'll work out who will be responsible for each task, how long each task will take, and what problems your team may encounter. This detailed thinking helps you ensure that the schedule is workable, that the right people are assigned to each task, and that you have workarounds for potential problems before you start. They also help you work out practical aspects of a project, such as the minimum time it will take to deliver, and which tasks need to be completed before others can start. Plus, you can use them to identify the critical path—the sequence of tasks that must individually be completed on time if the whole project is to deliver on time.

Finally, you can use them to keep your team and your boss informed of progress. Simply update the chart to show schedule changes and their implications, or use it to communicate that key tasks have been completed, as seen in Figure 2.

Happy_Fig2.jpg

Figure 2: Example of a Gantt chart.

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