Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Presenting Schedule Information Graphically

Everyone follows a schedule of some sort—a meal schedule, an exercise schedule, or a meeting schedule. In the area of project management, a schedule includes a list of project activities along with the planned start and expected finish dates for each part of the activities. This schedule may be presented in summary form or in detail using either a tabular or graphical format.

The tabular format presents the information in a table. The tabular format is very rarely used, as the information it presents is hard to read and understand.

The graphical format presents the information in the form of a diagram or chart. It allows the project manager to visualize the schedule.

When it comes to presenting schedule information graphically, you have a number of choices. The most common graphical presentation formats are the project network diagram (PND), Gantt chart, milestone chart, and time-scaled network diagram.

A project network diagram (PND) is a schematic display of the project's activities and the logical relationship between them. Each planned activity is numbered on the PND. For example, the number 1 could be Activity 1—the architecture and design of the project. Number 2 could then be the foundation work.

A Gantt or bar chart is the most convenient, commonly used, and easiest-to-understand format of data presentation for project planning, resource scheduling, and status reporting. It shows start and finish dates as well as the expected durations for each project activity.

A milestone chart is a summary-level schedule that identifies the major activities or deliverables of the project. It can become the skeleton for the master schedule. A milestone typically marks the end of an event or the completion of an activity.

A time-scaled network diagram is a cross between a Gantt chart and a PND. It displays the project logic, activity durations, and schedule information. The positioning and length of the activity arrow represent its duration.

Remember, there are a number of formats that your company may choose from when creating a project schedule. Determine the individual needs of your project and the key stakeholders, then make your choice based on those needs.

No comments: