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Gantt Charting Techniques - Gantt Chart Images in Bids or RFPs

Updated on July 8, 2011

Project owners often require a Gantt chart in bid proposals or RFPs. However, Gantt charting can be messy especially in consulting firms bidding for projects requiring multiple disciplines where several experts each have to estimate their area of work. Expect that different experts will use different commercial project management software. With free Gantt charts, planning integration becomes more achievable.

Moreover, what the project owner basically wants is not the details yet but an overview of how long the project will take from Point A to Point D and if the target time frame is workable.

What Goes on Behind the Scenes

Essentially, the project manager who is in-charged of the bid has to give an accurate estimate of the tasks involved and a conservative assessment of the time to complete each work package.

To do these, the PM gets the inputs of the firm's specialists. This is to make sure that his or her estimates and assessments are okay. Okay means that the project risks are properly managed, the project will turn out a profit for the firm, and the team of experts will complete the proposed schedules right on time.

After the negotiation of schedules and cost estimates, the PM can now finalize the technical bid. Here, the Gantt chart is usually the second to the last item in the finalization of the bid document.

The questions are: Is there a way to just insert a Gantt chart image in the MS Word bid document from the project management software that several experts worked on? Could the Gantt chart fit in an A4 size bond paper in portrait or landscape?

What to Download and Install

2-plan Desktop is a project management freeware with free-trial commercial plug-ins. It has a Gantt chart image feature that PMs can insert as a jpg in MS Word documents to keep consistent pagination, headers, and footers in bid proposals or RFPs.

To install 2-plan Desktop, consider the following:

  1. Download and install a Java Runtime Environment or Java Development Kit.
  2. Download the 2-plan Desktop and install. Choose the appropriate OS version.

How to Use Through an Example Gantt Chart

Let's name the example Gantt chart the Power Plant Meltdown Remedy project. The main goals are to stop the meltdown of the nuclear reactors of the power plant, minimize environmental and human risks, bring the power plant to full operation, and establish additional safety measures to prevent a similar problem in the future. The project owners and stakeholders will bid portions of the project to various contractors.

As part of the project management team, the PM will create a RFP for the bid process. Open the Planning Perspective as shown above to work on the Gantt chart.

When the Planning Perspective is open, click on the Gantt-Chart View tab and then the Project Explorer tab.

Right click on the WBS icon and click on the Add Workpackage 4 to 6 times.

Enter the tentative major tasks that the various specialists will correct or detail later on.

Next, input the indicative time frames to complete each work package. Negotiate the schedules later on with the various experts that will be involved in the project.

Click and drag the tentative schedules and then assign the detailing of the tentative Gantt chart to the experts for estimates.

This is how the example Gantt chart will look like after the correction and general estimates of the experts.

After brainstorming on other options or probing for other ways with the experts, the Gantt chart will have a neater appearance as shown above.

The experts can then detail the work packages when time permits via the Work breakdown structure and Business Object Editor views. But for RFP purposes, the indicative scheduled time frames will do at least theoretically.

To finally save the Gantt chart as an image, look for the bar above.

Next, click on the icon with the yellow arrow. With proper manipulation of the Zoom in or out icons to find the right fit, the Gantt chart image below is now ready for insertion into the RFP document either in portrait or landscape mode.

The advantage of having a Gantt chart image is that the bid or RFP document will have uniform headers, footers and pagination. Most significantly, the technical descriptions of the project will flow continuously instead of having annexes break the train of thought.

PMs can also insert a Gantt chart image in the Executive Summary for a quicker view and easier grasp of the project among the project owners, stakeholders, and bid participants.

While the Project Management Institute will consider the above techniques a common error, Gantt charting techniques for teams are important to minimize project risks. Many heads are still better than one. This saying maybe old, yet team planning is still a radical, modern approach compared with the individual, project-manager-only planning of traditional project management.


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