Gantt charts: how deep does your knowledge/experience of this project management tool go? A resource that heavily lies on the side of complexity, you may have some questions regarding this effective visual recourse.
Questions along the lines of:
- What exactly is it?
- When should I be using them?
- How should I be creating them?
First, What is A Gantt Chart?
A Gantt Chart is a horizontal bar chart that provides a visual view of project tasks scheduled over a specific time. Used for project planning, it’s a useful tool to see what work is scheduled to be completed on certain days. Project managers and team members view the start dates, end dates and milestones of a project schedule-all in one stacked bar chart.
On a Gantt chart you can easily see:
- The start date of the project schedule
- The project tasks
- Which team member is working on each task
- When tasks start and finish
- The length of each task
- How tasks group together, overlap and link with each other
- Task dependencies, milestones and the critical path of your project
- The finish date of the project
A Little History
While the origins of Gantt charts date back to the late 1800s-with the creation of the harmonograph-we know them best from a trained mechanical engineer named Henry Gantt. By hand in the early 1900s, Gantt created a bar chart to illustrate a project schedule-a painstaking method to upkeep. Fortunately, with the growth of the internet and additional process developments, modernization improved these previously laborious methods.
What Are They Used For?
Modern Gantt charts allow its users to create boards, add tasks, assign team members, and visualize the entire project from start to finish. The vertical axis lists the tasks to be completed, while the horizontal axis represents the project timeline. As you input tasks, their start dates, their end dates and their dependencies, bars on the stacked bar chart will populate, which represent task durations. This happens automatically if you use a project management tool equipped with a Gantt chart maker.
Providing numerous advantages, Gantt charts are ideal when managing multiple projects, teams, and budgets at once. Gantt charts are used for any organization that wants to manage its workflows in a visual and organized manner.
Typically, most Gantt diagrams are created in Excel or with a project management software of your choice. To increase efficiency in your methods-such as tracking real time progress, sharing with your team, and more-opt to utilize software based Gantt Chart. (You can find many options online.)
Businesses, platforms, and projects factors vary, therefore, each Gantt chart looks different. However, to yield the most accurate results, most charts have matching core elements.
Date/Time: the date and duration of each task are often displayed in days/weeks/months, but can also be represented in minutes/hours.
Tasks/Items: there are individual activities (or tasks) that live at various stages of completion.
Owner: this represents the person responsible for the task. Note: This can be more than one person or an entire team.
Depending on the software you decide to use, you will also be able to see/edit the following:
Status: the status represents what stage each task currently resides in.
Milestones: the overarching tasks that don’t have a duration, and generally mark the end of a certain part of a project.
Dependencies: the last major component of Gantt charts is dependencies, which are often represented as arrows that link two tasks together. Many tasks cannot start until another task is completed.
Vertical line marker — A vertical line that shows you exactly where you are in the project between the start and end date.
Must-Have Gantt Chart Software Features
While no two Gantt charts are the same, there are key features that you will need to get the most out of your Gantt chart tool:
Milestones: A milestone marks the end of a piece of work, task sequence or phase of the project. They are often fixed dates or important dates on your project schedule that you need to be aware of.
Dependencies: Linking two tasks together, they are often represented as arrows that link two tasks together
Status: the status represents what stage each task currently resides in.
File Sharing: It’s important as you collaborate to also be able to attach files, images, videos or other notes to document the task progress and also to keep all the task information together. That way, you always know where to look to find the file related to the work you’re doing.
When should I use Gantt charts?
1. Planning out your workflow
Providing a visual representation of your project at any stage-including task dependencies, priorities, and ownership, Understanding a project’s scope and requirements is made easier with Gantt charts because they provide a visual representation of your project at any stage, including task dependencies, priorities, and ownership.
2. Determining your project’s path
The critical path method is an approach used by project managers to determine the longest sequence of tasks that must be completed for the project to be a success.
Gantt charts allow you to quickly visualize which tasks are auxiliary, which are most critical, and which of all tasks are most vital to the delivery of a project happening on time.
3. Interpreting and setting task deadlines
Once you know a project’s critical path, you’ll need to set some deadlines for each individual task. Having a clear view of the project timeline and any necessary deadlines also helps project managers to report back to superiors and stakeholders accurately.
Creating Gantt charts the smart way
There is no shortage of articles about Gantt chart templates and software. You don’t have to look far to find a free (or paid) Gantt chart template and solutions.
While present day software tools prevail in providing live visualizations and a wide array of tremendous features, their unlimited capabilities can easily overwhelm those newer to the process! While it’s not necessary for you to become an expert on this subject, understanding the basics and how to ultimately translate results into your operations will prove worthwhile. Here at MCDA CCG, we can help you at any stage!
What should managers know about Gantt charts?
1. It’s important to adapt
In many traditional Gantt charts, such unexpected changes can throw off a slew of project dependencies, but as long as your Gantt chart system is flexible, you can lay out all of your project and team plans easily and adjust as you need.
2. Aesthetics matter
The majority of people understand concepts and plans through visuals-therefore, validating the rise in popularity of Gantt charts.
3. Workload should be managed in parallel
There are ways to incorporate resource management to make sure you are distributing work evenly across your team. With a visual and flexible workload functionality, it’s easy to shift and reassign work while abiding by your long-term project goals.
Hopefully, you have a better knowledge of Gantt charts than before. An effective tool, Gantt charts empowers you to manage project workflows in a visual and organized manner; however, as with anything, there may be a slight to significant learning curve.
With comprehensive experience in carrying out successful projects, we’re here to assist you to ensure your businesses objectives are efficiently met. Whether you feel confused, overwhelmed, or have a few questions regarding visualization methods, we encourage you to contact our office-headquartered in Placentia, Orange County, California-today!