Like many project managers, I live by my Gantt chart. It stores everything I need to know to keep track of the work. But the Gantt chart has a major failing: it doesn’t help me plan my time.
That’s where Calendar View comes in. I think this is a hugely overlooked function, being, as it is, present in many of the top project management tools. If you can represent it on a Gantt chart, it normally translates to a calendar view as well.
Why Use Calendar View
Calendar View within my project scheduling software helps me plan my personal activities because I can weave my project work into my day-to-day responsibilities. As I expect you do, I have other operational and management jobs to do in a day, and other projects to work on. The Calendar helps me see what the deadlines are and helps me split up my month so that the right tasks are done at the right time. It also helps me define my priorities for the coming weeks.
That’s why I love working from a Calendar. It feels natural. Here are 5 more reasons why you should consider using Calendar View in your project management software for scheduling and collaboration with your team.
1. Not everyone thinks like you do
I can think in Gantt charts. They make sense for my brain but I’ve been working with them for years and by now they are second nature. That might be the case for you. too, but I bet it’s not the case for some of your team.
When Gantt charts get big they can also look daunting. Calendar View makes it possible to break the tasks down into a month-by-month display. You can even color code by resource so that you can visually display what each person has coming up that month. This is a great way to share your plan with people who don’t feel comfortable with looking at a Gantt chart because most people have experience using a computer-based or online calendar (even a paper-based diary isn’t too far off what you’ll see on the screen!).
You can use the Calendar view during team meetings to plan team activities and check the schedule for the coming week.
2. It gives you the big picture
Need to know what the impact is of someone having a week’s holiday? Calendar View makes it easy. You get the big picture – a whole month of tasks on a single screen. You can quickly see what’s coming up and how you need to structure the team and the activities to get everything done.
It is far easier to spot clashes on the Calendar than looking up and down a task list and scrolling across to check the dates. It’s also easier for your team to enter events where they might be absent, such as conferences or planned sick leave.
3. It is not just tasks
You’d typically think of Calendar View as simply a different way of displaying Gantt chart information, but it can be much more than that. In ProjectManager.com, for example, you can click a date to add a new event or appointment. It’s not necessarily a ‘task’. It could be a team meeting, or an external dependency, a training course or something else that isn’t best represented by a task on the Gantt chart. Calendar View gives you flexibility to incorporate other relevant events, and allows you to see your project in context with other events.
4. You can share with your team
My personal calendar is in Outlook. Outlook, like many calendar tools, lets you keep things private and share other activities with others. It’s often a pain to remember to make a particular appointment public so that my team can see what I’m doing. It also requires them to log into my calendar, and then potentially the calendars of the rest of the team and then overlay them so they get a complete team view.
Calendar view means it’s all shared, and it’s all in one place. It’s the easiest way to see all the tasks, events and milestones affecting the project on a single screen.
You can also share your project plan either through exporting it, giving them direct access or even screen shots, with the stakeholders who matter.
5. You can space your milestones
Sometimes, on a big Gantt chart, it’s hard to tell if your milestones are adequately spaced for the work at hand. With Calendar View you can see them at a glance (they show up with the diamond milestone sign next to them, differently to a standard task). Can’t see any this month? Then it’s time to revisit your plan. It’s good practice to have a milestone a month, as long as that makes logical sense for your project schedule.
I don’t use Calendar view all the time because sometimes Gantt View is exactly what I need. But it’s good to have the option, both for my personal planning and for my team.
When everything is in one place, you can switch between the views depending on what you want to know or see and who you are working with. ProjectManager.com has a fully-integrated Calendar View with the additional option of adding events, milestones and more to your Calendar. You can even set up alerts and send out meeting invites from within the software, meaning your project team can truly have a single Calendar for the project. Try it out today for free and see what you think!