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Formatting the Project Rescue Plan

"The clarity and ease-of-use advantages from using an appropriate project planning format cannot be understated. Many different formats are available for project plans, but we recommend three that are the most effective for project rescue interventions: Gantt chart, timeline slide, and tabular format. The critical project path is implicit in these formats."

Gantt Chart

"Perhaps the most basic and widely used project plan format is the Gantt chart because it combines a visual flow to the project, along with the necessary details to control and track it properly. Gantt charts that show the entire project in one, two, or three pages are the objective of the rescue planning effort. If more complex details are required, consider having a 'reporting Gantt chart' as the primary reporting tool and link it to separate subplans that contain further details."

Timeline Slide

"An even higher level of reporting is possible through a simple timeline slide that attempts to fit high-level activities and any information truly worth mentioning onto a single page or two. This does not require a specialized project management tool like the Gantt chart does. Any software, like Microsoft Project or Visio, which can support presentation style graphics can be used to manage this format."

"The figure below shows an example of this format. The advantage to this approach is that it provides a good overview of the entire process. It also offers a good tool for describing the process to other members of the extended project team. Business sponsors can focus on the important dates and not get bogged down by details. It is also very easy to incorporate changes - perhaps an hour or so to update the entire slide regardless of the changes that are required. On the flip side, the absence of details may require you to augment it with one of the other project plan formats.


"It is useful to start the rescue process with this type of project plan until there is some agreement on the skeleton and then switch to one of the other formats.


"The table format can hold a lot of detailed information and is easier to manipulate than the other two formats. It lacks the visual impact of the Gantt, which is useful for explaining the flow and story of the project rescue. The table format, however, is well suited for discussions about the details once these are understood. This format is a good complement to one of the other two."

"Using a tool such as a spreadsheet or a word processor offers the significant advantage of rapid data entry and modification. MS Excel is a tool that lends itself to capturing the project information in table format. A logical grouping of resources will reduce the amount of typing and make it easier to move resources between tasks. The tool, of course, offeres a lot of functionality for additional analysis."