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Gantt charts help manage business progress

Construction, health care and engineering are among the common industries that consistently have long-term project plans in place. At Digital Workshop Center, we’re lucky to work with some of the biggest regional names in these industries to help them improve their project management and software skills. One of the major reporting views that long-term projects utilize is called a Gantt chart. As the default chart view in Microsoft Project, and available in other project management applications, the Gantt chart has a long history of providing a graphical diagram of your project’s status and lifetime. Project management software like Microsoft Project is designed to help you be more efficient and closely monitor project tasks and resources. In Office 365, there are now more online collaboration tools than ever before, allowing project managers to work with their teams from anywhere. The Gantt chart provides a way for a project manager to view project tasks and resources over time. Typically, on the left of a Gantt chart will be a list of tasks and/or resources, with a time scale across the top. The plots on the chart are small shapes representing the duration of the task on each line. Furthermore, Gantt chart plots will often have connecting lines to show how one task connects to another and the dependency between them. This dependency is vital to a project’s timeline because the delay of one task can impact related tasks and the projected completion date. The Gantt chart automatically updates when related tasks are ahead or behind schedule. According to Gantt.com, the chart’s history dates back to the late 19th century. Gantt.com says “the first Gantt chart was devised in the mid 1890s by Karol Adamiecki, a Polish engineer who ran a steelworks in southern Poland and had become interested in management ideas and techniques. Some 15 years after Adamiecki, Henry Gantt, an American engineer and management consultant, devised his own version of the chart and it was this that became widely known and popular in western countries.” Gantt charts were originally written by hand, and consistently updated throughout a project’s life cycle. This was a tedious, time-consuming process. However, modern adoption project management software, managers have a fast, easy way to update all project, task, and resource information. In addition, newer software versions allow you to view resources and budgets, and to create customized reports to extract information to help you make informed decisions. The Gantt chart is available in other software programs. However its effectiveness can’t be compared to project management software like Microsoft Project. Before you begin a manual process of creating your own project timeline in another software, consider looking at a Gantt chart and learn the tricks that project managers have known for...

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SmartArt a hidden gem for business publications

Business processes, hierarchies and goals can be difficult to effectively communicate. While many applications on the market can help you in the design process, the cost of entry for these can far outweigh the need. For example, you might have a medium to large business hierarchy diagram that is constantly changing. With employees constantly coming and going, you need an easy way be sure that the information in the graphic is kept up to date. If this is a need that your business has, Microsoft Word, the most popular word processing program, has many features that can help you get started. There is a graphic feature called SmartArt that can help you create simple, flexible diagrams. Going beyond Microsoft Word, SmartArt is also available in several of the other Microsoft Office programs including Excel, Visio and PowerPoint. SmartArt includes a graphic solution for lists, processes, cycles, hierarchies, relationships and more. After you decide the appropriate format, SmartArt includes two contextual tabs that allow you to control the design and format of the graphic. The items in the graphic are controlled through the Text Pane and work similar to a bullet list, where you can create top-level items and then sub-items as needed. The individual shapes of a SmartArt graphic can be designed independently, or you can control the overall design to maintain a consistent look. In addition, when you change a font size of one SmartArt object, all related items will change their size proportionally. One of the best ways I have implemented SmartArt at the Digital Workshop Center is to create a simple infographic to help explain our certification programs. An infographic is a graphical way to describe our services, combining text and graphic elements to convey the information in a unique way. SmartArt allows me to create a simple infographic within an existing Office document and avoid the time involved with using a graphics program such as Adobe Photoshop. SmartArt is one of the many tools that are underutilized in the Microsoft Office suite. One of the comments about SmartArt I regularly hear in our classes is “I had no idea that existed in Microsoft Office!” I encourage you to try inserting it into your next Office document and start creating a SmartArt diagram for...

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Microsoft Project: A Great Way to Stay on Task

At Digital Workshop Center, we are extremely excited to be moving into a new Old Town location to better serve the community as a resource for digital arts classes and business computer training. However, with a big office move such as this, there are also a lot of headaches to organize and many phases of the project to consider.

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