Source: Image of critical path, Public Domain, http://bit.ly/1aHbcbv; Image of Gantt charts, network diagram, Creative Commons, Jeff Carroll.
Hi, I'm Jeff. And in this lesson, we'll talk about how to visualize the project schedule.
Project managers who work with schedules every day sometimes don't realize how difficult it might be for others to understand the project schedule. Let's talk about a few ways to represent the schedule in simpler forms.
One method is the Gantt chart. You might remember from the lesson on project schedules that a Gantt chart is used to display all the work, the resources assigned, and the dependencies in the schedule. As you can see, the Gantt chart visually represents the schedule as boxes representing a logical flow through the project.
It's simple to see who's working on a task, how long that task will take, and what tasks must be completed before and after the current work. Some project managers will use the Gantt chart to build the schedule and often continue to use it throughout the project.
Another method used to display relationships in a project is the network diagram. This shows the flow of work between tasks or project units. Each unit is represented as a node on a network. The start and end of the project are represented as circles, tasks are shown as boxes, and arrows show the dependencies between the tasks.
Note how task three cannot begin until task one end, task two are both complete. A network diagram should be used when there are multiple dependencies between tasks that might be too complicated for a Gantt chart to display.
A critical path will run through both a Gantt chart and a network diagram. The critical path is the longest string of continuous dependent tasks. These represent the shortest time that a project can be completed.
Critical paths are identified by project managers because attempts to shorten the schedule need to occur by modifying tasks along this path. On this example, critical path, you can see that the project has two critical paths-- activities B and C, or activities A, D, and F.
They both show a minimum project time of seven months. Since the critical path is based on dependencies and duration, it gives the project manager the clearest picture of the key project work. This is the work that must be tracked closely and managed well to successfully complete the project deliverables. Any delay in the tasks on the critical path will cause the schedule to increase in length.
And those are three ways to visually represent a project schedule. Nicely done. When you need to communicate about a schedule, you'll now know how to use a Gantt chart, a network diagram, or a critical path.
Thanks and have a great day.