Thursday, July 06, 2006

Project2k3 : Gantt Chart Time Scale

I got an unusual feature enquiry from some one today. The question was :

When project plan displayed gantt chart from Microsoft Project Professional 2003, we can control a total of 3-tier of timeline. For example, tier-1 can display "Year" and tier-2 can display "Month", so, when you see the gantt chart, it is displayed "Year-Month" structure throughout the whole gantt chart.

Now the customer actually want to see that "Year-Month" structure for a period of time AND at the same gantt chart, they want to see "Year" structure (without revealing the month column) for the remaining period. Can it be done?

The simple answer is NO, it cannot be done.

This is an unusual feature enquiry , so far I haven't see any planning and scheduling tools that has this feature. I have use MS Project, Primavera and OpenPlan(while cover almost 80 to 90% of the planning and scheduling tool market) and none of these tool have that feature.

In my opinion, if it does allow you to do that, I think it will cause more inconsistency and confusion than doing anything good. Technically, it is also difficult and infeasible to implement this feature.

Just imagine the following scenario:
You want to display "Year-Month" for activities between 1-Jan-2006 to 31-Dec-2006. Then for activities after 31-Dec-2006, you only want to display "Year". Now, you have a few if not a lot of activities that span through this time period, EG : you have activity or WBS that start before 31-Dec-2006 and finish after 1-Jan-2007. How you think the gantt chart should now be draw ? Half in "Year-Month" and the other half in "Year"? If so, is it going to be very confusing ?

If the tool force you to have a clear cut of dates so that your activities does not overlap into the two time period, then you are going to have another problem. Now you have to break your overlapping activites into two separate activites each with no overlapping time period but it essentialy represent the same unit of task. This will make your planning much more harder, abnormal and of course result in a very confusing schedule.

If your objective is not to look at activities that are after certain time period, then just use a filter to filter out those activities that are not within the time period of your interest.



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