As mentioned earlier in the chapter, senior managers may have only a few minutes of uninterrupted time to digest your report. Respect that time. They won't be able to fully read and understand your report if they have to read 15 pages before they get any useful information. Having to read several pages only to find out that the project is on schedule is frustrating and a waste of valuable time.
A Gantt chart is one of the most convenient, most frequently used, and easiest-to-grasp depictions of project activities that I have encountered. The chart is formatted as a two-dimensional representation of the project schedule, with activities shown in the rows and time shown across the horizontal axis. It can be used during planning, for resource scheduling, and for status reporting. The only downside to using Gantt charts is that they do not contain dependency relationships. Some project management software tools provide an option to display these dependencies, but the result is a graphical report that is so cluttered with lines representing the dependencies that the report is next to useless. In some cases, dependencies can be guessed at from the Gantt chart, but in most cases, they are lost.
Figure 7-1 shows a representation of the Cost Containment Project as a Gantt chart, using the format that I prefer. The format shown is from Microsoft Project, but it is typical of the format used in most project management software packages.