“If a promise of a delivery is to be kept, all the work in a plant must be planned so accurately that when a new order is received, it is possible to tell almost to a day when the work will be completed.” (Wallace Clark)
Have you ever heard this description of the Gantt chart system? Sounds like a dream come true for project management, doesn’t it — an accurate and reliable prediction of delivery dates, every single time.
While Gantt charts cannot magically solve every project management challenge, they are an extremely valuable tool that can help you to improve your project planning and execution. Gantt charts are designed to help you visualize the sequence of tasks and activities that need to be completed in order to achieve your project goals.
In this article, we will discuss how Gantt charts can help you to improve your project management process. We will also provide a step-by-step guide on how to create a basic Gantt chart.
Gantt charts: a history
Before diving into how to improve project management with Gantt charts, let’s first take a quick look at their history.
Gantt charts were first developed by Henry Gantt in the early 1900s as a way to visually represent project schedules. In those days, Mr. Gantt’s charts were designed and mostly used for factory production lines.
Today, Gantt charts are commonly used in a wide range of industries for project planning and management. In fact, they are considered an essential tool by many project managers.
So, what are Gantt charts and what do they do?
Gantt charts are a visual way to represent the start and end dates of tasks, as well as their duration. They also show the dependencies between tasks. This makes them an excellent tool for project planning and management.
With a Gantt chart, you can easily see how a project is scheduled and identify any potential bottlenecks. You can also track progress and adjust the schedule as needed.
What do Gantt charts look like?
A Gantt chart is made up of a series of horizontal bars, one for each task. The bars are usually color-coded to indicate the status of the task (e.g. green for completed, yellow for in progress, red for overdue).
The left-hand side of the chart shows the start date of each task, while the right-hand side shows the end date. The chart also includes a timeline, which shows the duration of each task.
Use cases for Gantt charts
Gantt charts are highly effective tools for the production line — but not everyone knows that they can also be used for project management. In fact, Gantt charts are the perfect way to visualize a project schedule and track progress.
There are many ways to use Gantt charts for project management. For example, you can use them to:
- Track the status of individual tasks
- See how tasks are related to one another
- Monitor the dependencies between tasks
- Check the progress of the project as a whole
By using Gantt charts, you can get a clear overview of your project and identify any potential problems early on. This can help you to fix issues before they become bigger problems and cause delays in the project.
Benefits of using Gantt charts in project management
As one of the most popular methods of project management, Gantt charts come with a wide range of benefits:
1. They are easy to understand and use.
Designed with simplicity in mind, Gantt charts are easy to understand and use. At a glance, you can see which tasks are scheduled for today, tomorrow, or next week. You can also see which tasks are in progress and which ones are completed. This makes it easy to keep track of the project schedule and progress.
2. They help you to identify and fix problems early on.
Gantt charts can help you to identify and fix problems early on in the project before they’ve had a chance to cause serious delays. By monitoring the progress of the project as a whole and the dependencies between tasks, you can quickly identify any potential issues.
3. They are great for collaboration.
Gantt charts are perfect for collaboration as they allow team members to easily see how their tasks relate to one another. So, rather than constantly asking for updates, team members can just check the Gantt chart to see what’s happening. This also makes it easy to identify who is responsible for each task.
4. They are flexible and customizable.
Flexibility and customization are two of Gantt charts’ biggest strengths. You can easily adapt them to suit your own needs and the needs of your project. This makes them a great choice for any project, large or small.
5. They help you to stay on track.
Struggling to stay on track with your project? Gantt charts can help. By visually representing the schedule and progress of the project, these charts help you to stay on track and meet deadlines.
If you’re looking for a simple, effective way to improve your project management skills, these charts are the tool for you.
Improving your project management with Gantt charts
Ready to dive in? Let’s get down to the details: the steps you need to take in order to improve your project management using Gantt charts.
1. Brainstorm and document your project plan
The first step is to brainstorm and document your project plan. This includes all of the steps involved in completing your project, as well as who will be responsible for each step. It’s also important to estimate how long each step will take, so you can create a realistic timeline for your project.
2. Use the information from your brainstorm to create a Gantt chart
Once you have a clear plan in place, it’s time to create your Gantt chart. This will help you visualize the steps involved in your project and track their progress.
To create a chart that’s specific to your project, you’ll need to know the following information:
- The start date and end date for your project
- The name of each task involved in your project
- The duration of each task
- The dependencies between tasks (i.e. which tasks need to be completed before others can start)
Then, to actually create the chart, you’ll need to:
- Create a column for each task
- Enter the start date and duration of each task in the appropriate column
- Draw lines between tasks to indicate their dependencies
3. Put your chart somewhere where you can refer to it regularly
Now that your chart is created, you’ll need to put it somewhere where you can refer to it regularly. This could be on a physical piece of paper or poster board, or as a digital file that’s easily accessible.
Make sure that you update your chart as tasks are completed and the timeline changes, so you always have an accurate representation of your project. You should also keep it visible to everyone involved in the project, so everyone has a clear understanding of what’s going on.
4. Use your Gantt chart to track progress and troubleshoot problems
One of the best things about Gantt charts is that they can be used to track progress and troubleshoot problems. By comparing the actual progress to the planned progress, you can identify any delays or issues that need to be addressed.
If you’re using a digital chart, there are often tools available that will help you do this. For example, you may be able to color-code tasks based on their status (e.g. completed, in progress, upcoming) or create charts that show how the project has changed over time.
5. Celebrate your successes!
Finally, don’t forget to celebrate your successes! Completing a project is always a cause for celebration, and there’s no better way to mark the occasion than by popping open a bottle of champagne (or your favorite celebratory drink).
So there you have it: five steps for improving your project management using Gantt charts. Implementing these steps should help you stay on track, meet deadlines, and avoid any nasty surprises.
Quick guide: making your Gantt chart
To wrap up our article on a practical note, let’s walk you through the steps of how to make a Gantt chart. We’ll use an example project: creating a website.
1. Choose your medium. The easiest way to create this chart is to use one of the many online Gantt creator tools available. If you want to create a more customized chart or have greater control over the look and feel, you can use software like Microsoft Project.
2. Set up your project’s timeline. List out the start and end date for each task, as well as any dependencies between tasks.
3. Create your tasks. This can be done in one of two ways: either by listing out the individual steps involved in completing the task or by grouping related tasks together.
4. Assign a duration to each task. If you’re not sure how long a task will take, you can use an estimate or average duration.
5. Plot your tasks on the timeline. Use the start and end date, as well as the duration, to create your chart.
There you have it! With these simple steps, you can create a Gantt chart for your next project.
Project management strategies are a dime a dozen, but few are as universally applicable and time-tested as the Gantt chart. By using this chart, you can improve your project management skills by:
- Planning and scheduling your project more effectively
- Tracking progress and identifying potential delays or problems early on
- Communicating more effectively with team members and clients
So what are you waiting for? Start using Gantt charts today and see how your projects improve!