What Is a Gantt Chart?

A Gantt chart is an instrument most commonly used in project management. It helps the planning process as well as keeping track of records easier and comprehensible. According to Wikipedia, it is a type of bar chart. It is designed by an American mechanical engineer and management consultant named Henry Laurence Gantt.

In simple terms, a Gantt chart is a visual representation of the tasks involved in the project. It outlines and showcases the schedule of the tasks as well as their relationship or dependencies with one another. This will also help in monitoring the resources needed and used in a project.

Key Elements Included in a Gantt Chart

Now that we know that a Gantt chart is a kind of horizontal bar chart, we can then identify the different core components that are needed to be included in it. A bar chart in general will be made up of columns and rows. Here are the different elements that are input in those rows and columns.

The starting date as well as the end date of the project: The first important element that the chart will portray is the day and date that the project commenced. It will as well state the day and date that the project is expected to be completed.The various tasks: This is an important factor that the Gantt chart will provide its users to see. First and foremost, you must identify the key stages required in the project or the different phases of the project. The different phases of a project may be portrayed in a project flow chart. That will then lead to the identification of the key tasks or activities to be observed and performed. In general, the tasks and activities will be listed out in the column of the chart.The starting date as well as the end date of the tasks: It is not enough that the starting date as well as the end date of the whole project is stated here. This is a detailed document and will focus on every individual tasks. It is also important to include the starting date as well as the end date of each task or activity that is included. This will lead to better management of the overall schedule of the project.The duration of each task: This is in direct correlation with the starting date and end date of each task. This will determine for how many days and weeks that particular task will be in play. This means that this will identify the total days allocated and spent before a particular task is finished.The overlap of tasks: More often than not, activities will overlap with one another. This cannot be avoided in every project. However, too much overlapping may disrupt the performance and the quality of the work. A Gantt chart should be able to identify all the overlapping tasks there are and by how much time or the duration of days they will overlap.The relationship of tasks: This will also clearly state and identify the relationship of all the tasks that are included in the chart. It is important to know and understand how each of the task is crucial for the overall success of the project. In order to properly and accurately identify the relationship between each task, make use of a work breakdown structure.The owner of the tasks: Lastly, this will also identify who is the person in charge or the department responsible for overseeing as well as performing each of the tasks or the activities included in the chart.The resources of the project: In some cases, the resources that are required in order to finish the project will also be included here. This is especially true in big and complex projects. This will identify the amount as well as the cost of each resource that is needed. This may come in terms of materials, tools and pieces of equipment.

Step by Step Process in Creating Your Own Gantt Chart

Step 1: Select a Template

Creating a Gantt chart from scratch may be burdensome and confusing. However, with the help of the templates available above it will become easier and faster. As the main purpose of this document is to make the planning and management of the project easier, it is a must that it is created with clarity as well as with care. It is important that the chart is neat and organized.

It is important to make sure that the chart is created with care as this can also be used as a point of reference for future documents like a project status report.

Step 2: Know and Understand the Specific Goals

It is not enough that you know the mission statement as well as the vision statement of the company or the business organization. Each project has its specific goals to achieve. Just like in any project the very first step is to identify the goals. Know what are the required deliverables by the end of the project. 

This will usually answer the question of why that project is being implemented or constructed. This will also answer and give an overview of why the project is of significant importance to the overall success of the business organization as well as to the whole industry.

Step 3: Identify the Tasks

The next step is to identify the tasks or activities that are needed to be performed in order to complete the project. This should be detailed. It is important to make sure that the list is complete and will encompass all that is required to be conducted in order to deliver the desired output and goals. If there is uncertainty or confusion, you can make use of a work breakdown structure in order to make sure that everything is accounted for.

Step 4: Identify the Duration

The next thing to identify is the length or duration of each task. One of the main uses of the Gantt chart is to identify and plan the schedule of the project. This will lead to a better understanding of the time required to be allocated on a particular task or activity. In order to identify the schedule with clarity, it is a must to identify the duration for each activity.

It is also important to take note of the earliest possible starting date of a task and the expected date the said task will be finished. Make use of a critical path in order to identify the crucial activities. These critical activities must be prioritized in the identification of the duration of each task.

Step 5: Identify the Dependencies

In order to successfully finish a project, a series of tasks needs to be performed. One of the most important things in managing a project is to identify the relationship between each task and identify their importance.

Fully knowing and understanding the dependencies of the activities will lead to a better management of the tasks and the durations. A task can be under one of two categories. They can either be under sequential tasks or parallel tasks.

Sequential tasks or also referred to as linear tasks are those that need a prerequisite. This means that a task must be finished first in order to move on with other tasks. They are usually the ones that are done in a hierarchical or succeeding order. Under sequential tasks there are also 3 categories. They are finish to start (FS), start to start (SS) and finish to finish (FF).

Finish to start (FS) – This means that a task cannot start unless the previous task is finished.

Start to start (SS) – This means that a task may only start if the previous task has started.

Finish to finish (FF) – This means that a task may only end if the previous task has finished.

Step 6: Verify Your Work

Proper project management will lead to a huge boost in your chance of success. It is only right that you double-check your work in order to make sure that there are no errors. It is a must to check the list of tasks or activities and make sure that there are no overlapping activities. Having overlapping activities may lead to overspending or delay in the schedule of the project.

Step 7: Identify the Risks

This step is optional. Although it is optional, experienced and smart project managers will always opt to have a register of the risks that may hinder the success of the project. It is important to identify the problems that may appear as you undergo the whole process. A good project manager will come up with a risk management plan as well.

Step 8: Identify the Members

This is an additional step. This is important as not only the managers should know about the Gantt chart. It is important that every team member has access to the document. This is done so that they will know and understand better the duties and responsibilities assigned to them.

Lastly, in order to properly execute the Gantt chart, it is a must that a project manager knows and understands the strengths and weaknesses of each team member. This is done in order to properly and accurately allocate team members to the tasks in which they will thrive and succeed. Make use of an employee information form in order to know the skills and knowledge they possess. In some cases, this is also based on the recent employee performance evaluation report.

Benefits That a Gantt Chart Has to Offer

To have transparency

By the use of a Gantt chart, everyone will be aware of each member’s tasks and responsibilities. This promotes transparency in the workplace. This will lead to more trust and unity between every team member.

To have a sense of accountability

Allocating the task to the respective members will give them a sense of responsibility and liability. This will also lead to better trust in the workplace.

To have more clarity

Having a Gantt chart helps in having a point of reference of the tasks that are done and underway. This will result in a clear understanding of what needs to be done next.

To have better time management

This means that having a chart will help in managing the time of every employee and every task. With a chart, you can easily visualize the project and understand the negative impact of any delays. In understanding the severity of any delays and which tasks can be delayed, you can make use of a critical path.

To know the dependencies

In order to complete a project, a series of interconnected tasks should be accomplished. More often than not, tasks in a project are to be done in a hierarchical order. This means that some tasks are prerequisites of other tasks. Having a Gantt chart will help you understand the order and relationship of every task.

To measure the progress

Bar charts are very effective in checking progress. Any visual depiction of the progress is better than a written document. This will lead to faster and better understanding of the activities that are in progress and are at risk of being delayed.

To avoid overspending

Having a complete list of the tasks to be done will result in a clear and organized project management. This will lead to better planning and management of the resources as well. This in turn will lead to avoiding excess resources that will result in overspending.

To improve communication

With the use of this chart managers will know who is working on that particular task as well as check the progress of the task. He or she can then leave comments or notes about the status of the task. This will lead to faster and better communication for every team member. 

To have a visual

This is the biggest pro that a Gantt chart has. There is no doubt that a picture is worth a thousand words. Having a visual representation of the tasks as well as the duration of the tasks is better and easier to comprehend than having a long written document.

A Gantt chart is a type of bar chart that will outline and visualize the tasks and the duration of each task. This is an effective tool to properly allocate the resources and manage the manpower and resources you have. It is important to remember that this can be a point of reference for other documents such as project reports

A visual representation will always be an effective instrument to show that target audience of the progress of the project. This should be done with utmost care, knowing that make sure to utilize the templates that are available above.