Reflection

  • Category:
    Business
  • Document type:
    Assignment
  • Level:
    Masters
  • Page:
    4
  • Words:
    2292

Project Scheduling Reflection: Gantt Chart

Table of Contents

2Background

3Rational for using Gantt chart

4Advantages and disadvantages of Gantt Charts

5Gantt chart New Developments

6Personal Experience

7References

Project Scheduling Reflection: Gantt Chart

Background

Project scheduling is one of the most important stages in project implementation. Hartmann (2012, p. 14) shows that many good projects fail because of lack of scheduling or poor scheduling. Project scheduling refers to the tool used by project managers to communicate the kind of work to be executed, the resources needed to execute the work and the duration that it will take for the work to be executed. As a result, any project that is implemented without properly scheduling risks losing out on the benefits of project scheduling. For instance, when a project is not scheduled, the project runs the risk of failing because the project might not have the necessary resources and personnel or the project might take exceedingly too long to complete, which only adds cost to the project (Project Management Institute 2003, p. 5). This means that the project manager might be forced to stall the project and look for the extra money or resources needed to complete the project. However, this is dangerous as it inconvenience the clients, which might create fears among stakeholders. In this class, we have learned that there are a variety of project scheduling techniques that a manager can use when implementing a project. The techniques include Gantt Charts, Critical Path Method, PERT, Schedule Network Analysis, Schedule Compression and Risk Multipliers techniques (Kerzner 2009, p. 98). As discovered in the lesson, each of these methods have their strengths and shortcomings that project managers must take into consideration when selecting the scheduling technique to use, which also depend with the type of project to the undertaken.

However, Gant chart is one of the most popular projects scheduling technique used by managers. Gant chart is a horizontal bar chart developed by an American Social scientist and engineer Henry L. Gantt in 1917 (Agarwal and Tayal 2011, p. 90). The chart displays the tasks to be executed against time. On the left side are the activities that are represented in the form of a bar and at the top the time scale. The position and bar length shows the start time, duration and activity date (Hartmann 2012, p. 18). Therefore, Gantt chart represent the various activities to be executed, when each of the tasks begin and ends, the duration the tasks are expected to last, activity overlaps and the duration it is to take to complete the entire project. Below is a sample Gantt chart for scheduling projects.

Reflection

Source: Agarwal and Tayal (2011).

Rational for using Gantt chart

Gantt chart is one of the most commonly used projects scheduling technique. Although there are many techniques that managers can use in scheduling projects, Gantt charts are preferred by most project managers because of the benefits associated with this scheduling technique that the other scheduling techniques cannot provide (Project Management Institute 2003, p. 7). The first rational cited by managers for using Gantt chart is the fact that the technique enables the project managers to avoid project completion confusions. They attribute to the fact that Gantt charts help keep the project manager and team on track. Hartmann (2012, p. 13). Attributed this to the fact that Gantt charts provide a visual view of the project milestones and the timeline that the project should take to complete (fig. 1). As such, the project and his/her team are able to adjust their efforts to ensure that the project is complete on time, thus avoiding extra cost.

Fig. 1 Diagram Showing the Visualization Power of Gantt chart in Project Scheduling

Reflection 1

Source: Kerzner (2009).

Gantt charts are also largely used in project scheduling because it ensures that all people involved in project implementation are on the same page. For a project to be a success there is a need for understanding among the members of a team involved in the project implementation; otherwise the project might not succeed (Milosevic 2003, p. 33). Therefore, Gantt charts are preferred for use by managers because it provides visual framework regarding the task to the executed, thereby ensuring that everyone understands what is to be done, which minimizes misunderstanding. This is especially important where the project to be implemented is highly complex. Besides, Kerzner (2009, p. 100) observed that Gantt charts provide project managers with the best way of providing all the project stakeholders with same information and set expectations that are understood by all.

The wide use of Gantt charts as a scheduling technique is also linked to the fact that this scheduling tool allows project managers to be able to understand relationship between tasks. In this respect, Wilson (2003, p. 16) noted that Gantt charts provide visual view of the interrelationship between distinct tasks, which allows for easy planning and allocation of duties. In particular, Gant charts enables ease of understanding of the relationships between tasks that resolves mainly around knowing the timing for each task, which also affects the other jobs listed. Consequently, this results in better workflow, productivity and project success.

Additionally, managers like using Gantt charts because of the ability of this scheduling technique to ensure effective resource allocation. By using the Gantt charge, project managers are able to understand the areas where resources needs to be expected, allocated and shared so as to ensure that the use of the resources are maximized. One of the main reasons why projects fail is the inability of project managers to anticipate and allocate resources effectively (Hartmann 2012, p. 18). Fortunately, with the Gantt chart, it becomes easy for the project manager to anticipate the resource needs and areas where resources are needed, thereby ensuring effective allocation to optimize their use. Wilson (2003, p. 17) argues that, the closely the Gantt chart is followed, the more it becomes easy to allocate resources effectively, thus ensuring that the project is kept with budget, as well as ensuring that the project is completed on time.

Moreover, Gantt charts are widely in use for project scheduling as it helps project managers anticipate future (Project Management Institute 2003, p. 11). Accordingly, this allows the project managers to look further ahead, which ensures that the project is executed in line with the long-term objectives of the project.

Advantages and disadvantages of Gantt Charts

Gantt charts are popular in project management as a scheduling technique and budgeting because of the advantages associated with the use of this tool. However, the technique has also been criticized in the literature because of certain disadvantages linked with the use of this method in scheduling a project. The first main advantage of Gantt chart is that it acts as a communication tool, which accordingly help project stakeholders understand the tasks to be executed and how the tasks are related noted Wilson (2003, p. 26). This position is affirmed by Hartmann (2012, p. 43) who argues that Gantt charts enables project stakeholders to understand the project while at the same time acting as a communication tool to the project clients and the stakeholders with the interest in the project. Besides, the author argues that Gant charts have the advantage in the sense that they enables the project managers to focus on the important tasks and resources during the project implementation and allows leaders to keep track progress of the project to ensure no deviation from budgets and project objectives.

Additionally, Gantt charts are advantageous because they act as a motivation to the project team. Kerzner (2009, p. 101) noted that Gant charts provide project teams with the ability to focus their tasks to meeting the project timeline. Moreover, Gantt charts are advantageous as they enable project managers to coordinate project activities easily. This is attributed to the fact that Gantt charts allows project managers to sequence events and minimize the risk of overburdening the people involved in project execution and implementation. In fact, Milosevic (2003, p. 42) observed that some project managers use Gantt charts to break down the tasks into sets that are easily manageable. Further, Gantt charts are popular because they allow for effective time management. Keeping project within time is critical to the client and the managers. To the managers, completing projects within time ensures that the no extra cost is incurred in executing the project since any additional time it takes to complete a project results in extra cost that might not have been budgeted for by the managers (Kerzner 2009, p. 102). Therefore, it is only by executing the project within timeline that such extra costs are eliminated and this is enabled by Gantt chart that provide vision framework to the team regarding the duration that a project should take.

Despite the many benefits associated with Gant charts, this scheduling technique has been criticized because of the shortcomings associated with this scheduling technique. First, Gant charts have been criticized on the grounds that the technique distracts project managers’ attention from the real project to focusing on perfecting the graphs (Hartmann 2012, p. 58). This argument is supported by others who argue that Gant charts are developed only for purposes of meeting the higher-ups and they seriously distracts the project team from executing the project. Secondly, critics argue that Gant charts are not suitable for use in project scheduling because they are not detailed enough (Milosevic 2003, p. 49). As such, using it is based on assumption which might not be true. Thirdly, critics argue that Gant charts inefficiently utilize the screen space when displaying parallel tasks with large numbers, which might require their own space. Fourthly, Hartmann (2012, p. 71) has termed Gant charts “blunt instruments” that only promotes the adoption of single-step approach to project planning. Additionally, charts have been criticized on the grounds that they force they make the project managers over-control the project being executed rather than delegating the responsibility of the project execution to the members of the team. Accordingly, this demoralizes the project team, this resulting in less commitment of the project team to the achievement of the project goals. Further, Gant charts have the shortcoming in the sense that finding the project management tools, such as Microsoft Project that project managers might want to use in scheduling a project is never easy. Moreover, Gant charts do not include project constraints, such as project costs and scope.

Gantt chart New Developments

Gant chart was developed in the 1917 by Henry Gantt (Agarwal and Tayal 2011, p. 90). During this time, preparing a Gantt chart was a difficult undertaking considering that Gantt charts were prepared by hand on the laboratory. The difficulty with Gantt chart then was attributed to the fact that, each time the project changed, the project managers and schedulers had to make amendments to the Gantt chart or had to be redrawn. This limits the usefulness of Gantt charts since constant change is a nature of most projects (Milosevic 2003, p. 49). However, the way Gantt charts are prepared have changed significant as currently Gantt charts are easy and faster to prepare since charts are currently prepared by computers and other electronic devises. Beside, currently there are project management software that are used not only to create Gant charts, but also allows ease of update and printing.

Today, a Gant chart can be made on an Excel worksheet with a bar chart easily by scheduling the activities against the time duration. Similarly, modern Gant charts are prepared on a PowerPoint, which can be shown visually. Preparing Gantt charts on Excel and PowerPoint is easy and faster because the process is computer-based (Agarwal and Tayal 2011, p. 91). The Use of computers to make the modern Gant charts have also helped ensure that the Gant charts provide information about the activities and the duration that a project is likely to take with high degree of accuracy and this has helped increase the reliability of Gant charts as scheduling techniques.

Personal Experience

Personally I have had the opportunity to use the Gant chart for project scheduling. This happened at a time we were working on a road construction project, where Gantt chart was used to facilitate the delivery of the project. It is during this time that Gant chart proved an important tool as it acted as a key planning and control tool. This is because the Gant chart helped in planning and controlling the duration, allocation of resources and ensured that the project was delivered within budget. Besides, the Gant chart enabled the progress of the project to be monitored closely to ensure that there was no deviation from the plan. As such, I disagree with critics that have labeled Gantt chart a “blunt instrument” as Gant charts helped ensure facilitate communication between the project team and stakeholders, show interdependence between tasks, shows clear state of the current project and is effective in resource allocation, as well as in predicting the duration of the project. Therefore, as much as Gantt charts have their shortcomings, I am convinced that this is a very useful technique for scheduling and planning a project.

References

Agarwal, B. B., & Tayal, S. P2011, Software project management. Laxmi Publications, Oxford.

Hartmann, S 2012, Project scheduling under limited resources: models, methods, and applications. Springer Science & Business Media, New York.

Kerzner, H. R 2009, Project management: a systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken.

Milosevic, D. Z 2003, Project management toolbox: tools and techniques for the practicing project manager. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken.

Project Management Institute 2003, The application of project scheduling techniques in a real-life environment. Project Management Institute, London.

Wilson, J. M 2003, “Gantt charts: A centenary appreciation,» European Journal of Operational Research vol.49, no. 2. Pp. 1-44. doi: 10.1016/S0377-2217(02)00769-5