Why Use Snapshots?

IF you are reading this blog post, you are probably a project manager.

IF you are a project manager, you are responsible for schedules – they’re your bread and butter.

IF you’re responsible for schedules, you talk about them with your project team, project sponsors, and clients.

Talking about schedules is hard.

We at Chronicle Graphics know you need to talk about schedules easily and effectively.

The project management business is mostly about dealing with change, uncertainty, and people. Schedules change for various reasons – some understandable and some not. There are so many factors that cause change and they all seem to focus on schedules. Talking about schedule change and why schedules change is harder than just talking about what the schedule is!

Taking charge of change means understanding the whys and wherefores of that change and being able to talk about change effectively.

Showing how schedules change helps to explain why and what options are available. Making pictures of changes as they happen provides the basis for telling the story.

Pictures of change to schedules are what snapshots are all about. They give you, the project manager, the tool you need to show what’s going on and tell the story of why.

You can tool-up and be prepared to capture schedule change: tell the story with OnePager Pro’s snapshot capability. Whether it’s capturing a picture of the schedule on a routine basis for weekly or monthly status reviews, or preparing a detailed “what if” analysis, OnePager Pro can help you gather the information you need to tell the schedule story.

Suppose you have a project that is on track and you take a snapshot of it with OnePager. OnePager captures a picture of the project from your actual data in either Microsoft Project or Excel. The picture could look like this:

First snapshot of a project plan

At the end of January everything is fine, progress is being made, no issues. But in April, things look quite different. Tasks have slipped and the schedule now looks like this:

Second snapshot of a Microsoft Project plan created in OnePager Pro

The snapshots retain the same look and feel. You can immediately focus on what’s changed and keep the conversation pointed at what needs to be done. OnePager keeps track of historical project snapshots and makes them available for PowerPoint presentations and other formats.

It’s easy to see that with snapshots of the schedule, taken at the beginning of each project month, you have a valuable resource for telling the project’s story. You are able to see how progress was made and how issues were overcome. At the end of the project, in the post-mortem, so to speak, you are able to discuss the lessons learned easily, in a consistent format, and with all the information at your fingertips.

So there are two takeaways from this discussion:

  1. Snapshots help you visualize changes that happen during the course of a project and give you a visual for presenting what’s going on for supporting schedule discussions.
  2. At the end of the project, the collection of snapshots captured during the project helps in the lessons learned conversation.

This entry was posted in Audiences, Best Practices, Gantt Art, Microsoft Project Tips, Project Reporting, Project Visualization by Bob Feingold. Bookmark the permalink.

About Bob Feingold

Bob is a seasoned technology and project management executive. As an Air Force Officer (Colonel) from 1965 through 1991, he served in a number of executive leadership, computer system development, and program management roles. After retirement, he joined Robbins-Gioia, Inc. as a Regional Vice President and Program Management Consultant. He then moved to state government, where he held numerous influential positions, culminating in his service as Chief Information Officer for the State of Colorado under Governor Bill Owens. Bob has a doctorate degree in Operations Research and an MBA from Indiana University, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami.

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