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Gantt Charts Explained

Gantt Chart

A Gantt chart is a project management tool. It is a chart that shows the tasks of a project when each must take place, and how long each will take.

On the horizontal axis of a Gantt chart are the days or weeks of the project. On the vertical are all the tasks in the project. So each task gets its own line on the chart.

The length of a task’s line shows when it starts and ends. So across a row, you can see which tasks overlap, and hence must be done in parallel, which must wait for others to finish first, and so on.

Gantt charts are useful because they help you schedule work efficiently. But they’re not just for scheduling; they also help you identify problems with your plan early enough to do something about them.

The Gantt chart is a modern management tool. It was invented in the early 20th century by Henry Gantt, an advisor to presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, and also to big companies like DuPont, General Motors and Westinghouse.

A Gantt chart is a bar chart that shows the tasks of a project, when each must take place and how long each will take. It’s designed to be easy for managers to see at a glance what their team is working on now, what they’re planning to work on next, and how the various parts of the project depend on each other.

Gantt charts are often used for software projects because software is usually built as a sequence of tasks: design this module, then code it up, then test it, and then integrate it with existing modules. But they’re also useful for non-software projects: writing reports, designing marketing campaigns or anything else that involves getting a lot of separate tasks done in sequence.

The most important part of any project management tool is not the way it displays information but the information itself. The best way to think about what you’re going to do is as a list of tasks: things that you know how to get done in less than a day.

How to use a Gantt chart

Gantt charts are a way to visualize how a project is tracking. They are useful for planning, coordination, and communication.

Most Gantt charts list the tasks of a project on the vertical axis and the time intervals on the horizontal axis. The length of each bar represents the duration of the task it represents. The start and end dates of each bar are anchored to their corresponding dates on the horizontal axis. Bars may be arranged in any order, but are usually created sequentially from left to right.

There can be multiple bars per task, showing sub-tasks, parallel processes or where work is split among different people. Each bar may also be color-coded by person or team, with one row per person or team.

If there is more than one type of work or resource (e.g., people or tools), you can break out the work into different rows or columns. You can also include milestones as diamonds that occur at a specific time on the schedule (such as at the beginning, middle and end).

Use a Gantt chart when you want a quick overview of your project and how it’s doing. You’ll be able to see if it’s on schedule or not. It will also help you identify and deal with potential issues as they arise. And if you need to make adjustments, you’ll know exactly where to focus.

How Do You Make a Gantt Chart?

Gantt charts are usually made in Microsoft Project or similar software, but you can also create one in Excel. 

Why use a Gantt chart?

Gantt charts have been popular for many years because they are so useful. They help you plan your project, track its progress, and identify problems that arise along the way.

The main reason to use Gantt charts is that they allow you to visualize everything about your project at a glance. The chart’s horizontal axis represents time, so it’s easy to see how far along each task is, which tasks overlap, and how much time you have left before the deadline. The chart’s vertical axis displays all of the work that needs to be done. It lets you quickly spot any gaps in your schedule and figure out if you need to hire more people or cut back on some of your plans.

You can choose a Gantt chart because it has been the standard for years. But there is more to it than just the tradition. A Gantt chart is still the best way of showing tasks, durations and their dependencies. 

It starts with a list of tasks in a table. Each task has a start and an end date and a duration. You can add more columns if you want, such as resources or notes.

When you add dependencies between tasks, you get a network diagram of your project. This way you can see which tasks can run in parallel and which depend on each other’s completion.

You can also use it to show progress on the project with the percent complete column. The chart will change dynamically when you enter any data in this column.

You don’t have to be an expert to make a Gantt chart, but you do need to know your project well enough to decide on tasks and their dependencies. 

Project managers use Gantt Charts to:

  • Plan projects
  • Schedule tasks
  • Track progress against deadlines
  • Communicate project status to stakeholders

Gantt Charts give you a visual representation of your project. For example, if you were building a house, you’d use a blueprint. It would show you where the walls are going to go, what materials you’ll need, and how the plumbing works. A Gantt chart is like a blueprint for your project too. But it doesn’t just tell you about the work that needs to be done – it also tells you when it needs to be done.

Before computers, Gantt charts were drawn by hand on paper. Luckily, with modern tools, creating them is much easier!

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Asha patel

Asha has been a program manager, project manager and product manager for multiple Fortune 500 global companies. She has experience with implementing many successful technology, operations and product management projects.

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