Objective: Sequence activities in a manner that takes account of the functional and time relations between activities, clarifies responsibilities and resource needs, and makes efficient use of resources.
Specifically, the tool is used to: identify connections between activities; clarify timing and relative timing of activities; plan relative timing related to logic of activities and use of resources.
This activity can be undertaken in 3 hours to 6 hours depending on the complexity.
Use tool in particular to work on action plans, but can also be used at a broader level on the overall strategy:
- To develop a strategy or action plan from a broad collection of possible activities to a set of agreed and actionable tasks
- To communicate, discuss and adapt a plan of action
This is typically a tool used by the core planning team. In a participative context it can be used by the whole group that is participating in major planning steps. The tool described here is the participatory form.
The core planning team
The wider group of stakeholders involved in major planning steps
The tool is a staple of project management and there are many software tools, such as Microsoft Project which can be used at a detailed technical level. It is also possible to use spreadsheet software and free computer based tools, e.g. open workbench.
The version of the tool used here is adapted for use in a participatory context. This can be further developed and used with software after the main participatory phase.
The main steps are as follows:
- Step 1: Divide strategy into tasks. A task is a distinct piece of work that has a defined output, and a starting and an ending point. To be able to use tasks to plan work you need to also be able to define responsibility, resources needed and the connection of a task to other tasks. See sample card (figure 1). Aim for 15-20 main tasks. The key is to identify main groups of activities needed to reach objectives. Each of these can later be subdivided.
- Step 2: Once the main activity groups are agreed and tasks identified, enter the information on cards or half sheets of paper.
- Step 3: Put a large sheet of paper on a wall, make a rough time schedule along the top in weeks/months and down the left margin, make sure there is space for the main tasks identified. Fix the task cards to the chart using a means such as pins or post-it notes that allow cards to be re-arranged.
- Step 4: For each task indicate the start and end date using post-it notes or similar.
- Step 5: Rearrange to take account of relationships between tasks and the ability to manage them.
- Simple to use and appropriate for participative approach
- Visible and transparent
- Agreed version can be captured photographically
- The results need to be copied manually to a computer based system
There is much information available on different forms of Gantt charts.
Academic documents (access may be limited):
Geraldi, J. and Lechter, T. (2012) Gantt charts revisited : a critical analysis of its roots and implications to the management of projects today, International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 578-594.
Maylor, Harvey (2001) Beyond the Gantt chart : project management moving on, European Management Journal, vol. 19, no. 1, pp, 92-100.
Wilson, J. M. (2003) Gantt charts : a centenary appreciation, European Journal Operational Research, vol. 149, no. 2, pp. 430-437.
 The approach described here was developed by Forbes Davidson for IHS