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Smart way to Boost Practice Efficiency

In the article "Smart way to boost practice efficiency" how is the Gantt chart related to the SMART approach?

__________________"Smart way to boost practice efficiency"__________________
Practices can benefit from planning tools such as the control loop, says Dr Simon Auty. All of us plan our lives - even if it is only planning to get up at 7am to arrive at work on time. Longer term it could be planning the installation of a new IT system for the practice in the next two months.

Even with the best plans no one can guarantee that things will turn out as you intended. One management tool that might help with planning new projects in your practice is the control loop. This sets objectives that can be modified subject to careful monitoring.

The control loop

The control loop has four elements: set objectives; plan, identify markers and implement them; monitor progress; adapt and make changes on the results of monitoring.

Set objectives

All objectives should be SMART. This is an acronym for an approach to making objectives have a clear criteria (see box).

Planning and implementation

Once objectives are set, break them down into tasks. Each objective may require several tasks to reach completion.

For example, putting in a new IT system requires purchasing the system, having it installed, training staff, entering old data and so on.

To reach an objective, break down the project into individual tasks. Setting dates by which tasks are to be completed enables you to measure how much you are moving towards achieving your objective.

A graphical way of representing tasks is to put them into a Gant chart (see above). This is a way of showing how the individual tasks within an overall objective are expected to perform against time. The length of the bars is related to how long each separate task is expected to last.


Check how progress is being made towards objectives. It is necessary to take a step back at frequent intervals in order to assess progress. Monitoring can take a number of forms from simple observation to regular, structured reports.

For example, the delivery dates of equipment may change and the software that was due to arrive may not coincide with this or with staff training courses the practice manager has booked. Also note that some training may be possible before the equipment is installed, but some may need the system to be in place.

Act on the results

This is essential to prevent objectives, plans and tasks going off course. If the monitoring shows some tasks are well behind or making no progress it may be necessary to reorder or hurry up the tasks or to make contingency plans.

It may even mean that objectives set are unachievable and need to be reset.

For example, the computer system may be ready for delivery well before all the staff have completed their IT training; training courses need to be rebooked in order for staff to be able to use the new system when it arrives or the practice will have surplus computers cluttering up the desks or taking up storage space.

The control-loop model is a simple yet effective tool for planning at work or in your private life. Task-breakdown charts or mindmaps can help you to order the tasks involved and Gant charts are useful for giving tasks a time sequence.

Making objectives SMART saves time by making objectives clear for everyone.

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Solution Preview

GANTT chart can be related to the five parts of the SMART approach:

1. Set objectives: a process to break objectives down into specific tasks. All of the specific tasks can be represented using GANTT chart. Each task is represented using the time it is expected to finish and ...