Well planned is only half done. Your project’s success depends on how well you execute your plans and how responsive you are to obstacles along the way. Zoho Projects’ Gantt chart gives you a detailed visual of your schedule, with tasks and dependencies clearly defined and plotted. And because nothing is perfect and delays are unavoidable, we’ve come up with two new features that help you predict when tasks can be finished and possible delays, so you can plan ahead.
The project baseline is the touchstone against which you measure all progress. Once you’re done planning, set a project baseline which will act as your reference point. After the project has begun, you can see if your current progress aligns with the original plan. The gray bars against the task bars show how ahead or behind schedule you are—or if everything is going as planned.
This real-time visual comparison gives you insight into which tasks need to be sped up, or where your resources have to be reallocated. With time, you can set up multiple baselines and keep comparing progress.
The Gantt chart also shows the slippage, which is the difference between the baseline’s start date and the current start date, and the end variance, which is the difference between the baseline’s end date and the current end date of the task. While a positive red value indicates a delay, a negative green number shows that you are ahead of the plan.
In an ideal world, your tasks will align perfectly with the initial baseline, but if not, setting and comparing baselines from time to time will help you understand how schedules and resource allocation can be done better in the future.
There may be times when certain tasks risk project delay more than the others. That brings us to our next feature:
Critical path—the cornerstone
The critical path follows the critical tasks that are the cornerstones of your project, as they are vital for everything to be completed on time. The path with the longest duration is plotted as the critical path in the Gantt chart. This path can either be a single task, a set of dependent tasks, or even multiple sets of tasks. A delay of any number of days in this path directly affects the project.
The red bars help you keep an eye on key tasks and make sure they’re never pushed beyond deadlines. But while you focus on keeping your critical tasks on track, don’t let the rest go off the radar! Noncritical tasks have a slack line, which is the accepted delay. If they stretch beyond the slack, they become critical tasks, too.
The baseline, coupled with the critical path, ensures that you stick to your direction, complete milestones on time, keep customers happy, and deliver promised results!
In other news, we also introduced Task Rollup, where details such as start date, end date, and completion percentage are rolled up from tasks and subtasks to milestones and, in turn, to the project. Any changes made to the smaller items in the hierarchy will also reflect in the larger work items. Learn more about it here.
Try these features today and forecast your schedules with better precision. Don’t forget to send us your feedback!