Beyond the use as a project planning and monitoring tool for IPM, there are other ways a Gantt Chart can serve project management.
The Stretch Gantt Chart
The project manager who does not have sufficient control over the project people to be able to develop a dependable bar chart can create one with all the help he or she can muster by creating a "wish list." The wish list helps to communicate when and why task team help is needed. Although not a desirable form of project management, it is better than having no planning or management at all.
The Template Gantt Chart
Some organizations will repeat a certain type of project over and over. Here, a project manager can apply project-planning principles to a sample project and create a bar chart template for the repeated projects. These Gantt charts thus will provide valuable reference material for future projects. Disk cleaning Machine A is a Template used in a large specialty shop. You will see it again in this book with different particulars entered for different but similar projects.
How Long the Gantt Chart Answer
The major question that a project manager is always asked is, "How long is this project going to take?" Sometimes the project manager is told when the project must be finished and he or she is faced with the following question, "Can the project be finished as required?" Sometimes he or she is faced with the same problem a wife had when her husband ordered her to deliver her baby in six months so that they could get a "this year" income tax deduction. She expects to deliver in nine months. The husband and his financial problems cannot change that fact. Projects always have a minimum, best effort duration. This may not be as obvious to a manager/sponsor as it should be to a husband. The device for defining the necessary time required for a project is the project Gantt chart. When we specify that a project will be finished on time, we are referring to the completion date indicated by the project Gantt chart, not the date ordered by the sponsor.
There are ways for shortening up projects. (These are discussed in Chapter 11). There is always a minimum, best effort time requirement. Project time planning begins with the Gantt chart. Project resource requirements and project cost also are derived from the Gantt chart.
One story from World War II is about building a pontoon bridge on the Marne River, in France. A U.S. Army Engineer company was preparing to build a pontoon bridge to get tanks and other motorized vehicles across to support the infantry who had crossed earlier.
The engineer company commander stood on a bluff overlooking the river. Almost out of nowhere, an officer wearing riding boots and britches, an "Ike" jacket, an enameled helmet, and two revolvers strapped to his side appeared. This officer said, "Captain, I want that bridge across by noon and if you can't do it I will get somebody up here who can." The young captain (22-years old and a veteran of the Normandy landing) said, "General, our site is still under German 88 sporadic fire. I have called for an airstrike. The P-47s will clear out the 88 in the next forty-five minutes. My near shore abutment crew is ready to go to work. They will cross to the far shore to put in that abutment as soon as they finish here. We have the pontoons and treads ready to launch and are establishing an upstream site. We will get them in the water, one unit at a time as soon as the abutment is ready to receive the first unit. The river is deep and running very fast. We can get in three units an hour. It will be nine o'clock tonight before we can open the bridge."
General George S. Patton did not say a word. He just turned and walked away and the engineers got the bridge in by 9:00 P.M.
General Patton had the good sense to recognize competence with a well thought-out project plan and realistic time estimates. He left the young captain to do his job. Many project sponsors are not as wise as George Patton and will insist on the impossible. The Gantt chart defines what is possible.