What if everyone who was involved with your initiative was 100% in tune with your project plan, from the executive sponsor, down to a single member of your development team? From the time you began building the plan through execution, all stakeholders knew very simply and easily what was happening, what they needed to do/when, and could quickly understand and make changes when problems arose; Shangri-La, right?
Not only will this provide a healthy work environment, but businesses that can achieve it will have confidence in what they are doing, how much it will cost, and how long it will take. They will be more accurate when it comes to planned project outcomes.
Well, there are some of us in the world-of-people-who-plan-things (project managers, planners, schedulers, analysts, scientists, product managers, etc.) who have been trying to build this environment of clarity within our teams and businesses, albeit manually, for years. We’ve spent countless hours in PowerPoint, Visio, and Excel – pick your poison – dragging shapes around, adding text, organizing colors, etc. Sometimes on a daily basis we were manually generating simplified views of our detailed project plans to make sure that when we go to have the conversation (or presentation) about our plan, or parts of that plan, that the audience can absorb what we’re putting in front of them very quickly and easily.
We are Gantt Artists, and we realize how important it is that everyone we’re working with can digest information about what we’re doing, and what the plan is, quickly and easily.
If you’ve ever joined this often aggravated group of visual craftsmen and artists, chances are you wished you could go back. The reason being that, while your audience are now much smarter and in tune with your initiatives, you’ve just baselined your visuals at a whole new level and now you are expected to create more of them and maintain all of the views you’ve been creating, manually. You know the views you’re creating are very valuable to the success of your projects, programs, or portfolios, but now you’re spending WAY too much time creating and maintaining pretty pictures. UGH!
Now, you may be saying “I get by just fine with a cut and paste of my datasheet or MS Project.” But, in our experience, this type of communication often leaves people working much harder to digest the data that is presented. A clear visual, even if it is simply a supplement, will provide your audience with the ability to consume as much as possible. This can be very important, for example, when you are building a plan and asking your team to confirm for you that what you’ve put into the plan is what they are willing to commit to. If they end up committing to something they don’t understand in the first place, your initiative is doomed from the beginning!
So, the question becomes, what’s worse? Spending the time and resources to ensure you have clear communications around your plans or avoiding it because nobody is asking for it (often because they aren’t aware of an alternative). Our experience tells us that, by far, your company will spend a lot more money fixing the negative outcomes of a project that could have been avoided with clearer communication up front and throughout the lifetime of the work.
The good news is that there are tools out there available to help you create better visuals of your plans, and one in particular whose sole purpose is to provide the ideal visual in an automated, and efficient way: OnePager. OnePager is quickly becoming the gold standard for plan visualization and for good reason. Even a novice user can create professional looking project graphics using their existing data, usually in minutes.