Teamweek is an alternative to Gantt charts that have been around for a little more than 100 years. After Henry Gantt outlined the concept in 1910, its first major implementation was during World War One, when the American general Crozier used Gantt charts to manage complex weapon production and logistics operations.
We have come a long way since then. Although the major innovation of mr. Gantt, the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) remains relevant today, Gantt charts itself have several major drawbacks that make the concept in general more or less obsolete in modern project management.
During the last two decades we have seen the rise of the so-called knowledge-worker, or as Seth Godin puts it – “the artist”. These are people who operate in loosely coupled and geographically diverse teams, whose projects are often defined abstractly, and whose work results are more valued by quality rather than quantity. Seldom do these artists work only on a single project for 3 months or more. They have several ongoing projects, which they constantly need to juggle.
Gantt charts do not work well in this environment. That’s because:
- Projects are flexible, not fixed. Most of the projects nowadays are not fixed-length, clearly determined and with one clear path to success
- Long-term detailed planning doesn’t work. Quite often, projects have so many variables that precise planning for over 2-3 weeks is not rational
- Changes happen everyday. Agile project management assumes that change is inevitable. Making changes to project plans should be fast, simple and transparent
- Smooth communication within a team. Communication and staying up to date is the key for a team. Any changes made to project plans should immediately be reflected to each team member without any extra effort
What we see quite often is that Gantt charts are basically a write-once document, which gets done at the beginning of the project. Once the action starts rolling, the initial plan (quite surprisingly) starts changing fast. Since constantly updating the chart is time consuming and (due to dependencies) also quite complex, then more often than not people just stop updating the plan and just keep doing the stuff. After a while there is a lot of action and a little of plan. Indeed, not a good way to run a project.