Every basic project needs a project plan. Starting a basic project before the planning is completed does not produce the desired results. Each project needs a written description of what is to be done, task by task, when each task must be started, and how long each task is expected to take. Projects progress in a task-by-task order. A few tasks can be started simultaneously at the launch of a project, however most are dependent on predecessor tasks. These tasks are started when a prior task or several immediately prior tasks have produced the task outputs needed as their starting point.
The project Gantt chart was designed to display, on graph paper, the flow of tasks, predecessors and successors, that describe the execution of the project. It is a basic document that enables the project manager to keep track of a project's progress and to anticipate when preparations must be made to start successor tasks during the project's execution. When risk analysis and risk factors are added to the Gantt chart, the project completion date will be identified. (Note: IPM uses a different Gantt chart to plan the planning of a project).
As the Gantt chart is developed and task bars are created to indicate task duration, the names or titles of task leaders and workgroup members can be added to each task bar along with the amount of effort each workgroup member will contribute to each task. This charting provides the project manager with the basis for project resource management. As hourly, daily, or monthly work rates are added to the resource information, the project budget is defined (see Figure 6-1A through 6-1D). The Gantt chart, therefore, provides the basis for project time management, resource management, and cost management.