What is a Gantt chart? – Councilor Forbes

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A Gantt chart is a project management tool that helps plan, schedule, and track a project. Using a Gantt chart facilitates a multitude of tasks, including planning and scheduling, remote work collaboration, resource allocation, and balanced delegation of tasks.

A Gantt chart represents all information visually through a horizontal bar chart. Project managers and team members can view task schedules, dependencies, and progress just by glancing at the graph. Planning all tasks in advance and making them visible in one place allows teams to deliver on time.

What is a Gantt chart?

A Gantt chart is a horizontal bar chart used to display the start date and duration of each task that makes up a project. It is one of the most popular project management tools because it allows project managers to view the progress of a project at a glance.

Although the Gantt chart is named after Henry Gantt, an American engineer and project management consultant, he was not the first to design it. It was first designed by Karol Adamiecki, a Polish engineer, in the 1890s. He created it for his steel plant unit but Henry Gantt personalized it for his customers. Today, Gantt charts are most often used for planning and controlling projects.

Gantt chart example

The tasks of a project are represented on the Y axis of the Gantt chart, with its duration on the X axis. Each task is represented by a bar. The length of the bar represents its duration. If you see two bars overlapping on the X axis, be aware that they are occurring simultaneously.

As you can see in this example, a Gantt chart allows project managers to get a quick overview of project information such as:

  • List of tasks that make up a project
  • Start and end dates for each task
  • Dependencies between tasks
  • Planning
  • Progress of each task
  • Task owners

A Gantt chart is useful in keeping a project on track, especially when you have multiple dependencies and many tasks are happening simultaneously.

How Gantt Charts Can Be Used

Gantt charts make it easy for project managers to identify the critical path to project completion and ensure there are no delays in these tasks. Project managers should use Gantt charts for planning and scheduling the project, allocating resources, tracking the progress of each task at all times, and ensuring that critical tasks run smoothly and quickly .

How to make a Gantt chart

Gantt charts can be created using project management software or a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. But before you actually build the Gantt chart, you need to get your team together and plan.

Planning the creation of a Gantt chart

Before creating a Gantt chart, gather the following information:

  • To do-list
  • Start and end dates for each task
  • Task dependencies
  • Task owners
  • Team members assigned to each task

When you sit down with your team, the first thing to create is a list of tasks that will make up the project. After that, you need to estimate the duration, resources needed, dependencies, etc. for each task. This will help you allocate resources correctly. However, you should be prepared to reschedule and reallocate your resources as the project progresses.

Remember that the basic information needed to create a Gantt chart is a list of tasks with their start and end dates. Depending on the complexity allowed by your Gantt chart tool, you can add more details like task dependencies, critical tasks, allocated resources, etc.

Create a Gantt chart in Excel

Let’s create a very basic Gantt chart in Excel so that you can see how easy it is to work with them. If you want a more in-depth explanation, check out our article on How to Create a Gantt Chart in Excel.

1. List all the tasks in column A.

2. Record the start and end dates in Columns B and C for each task.

3. In column D, use the formula = C2-B2 to calculate the duration of each task.

4. On the Insert tab, click on the Insert a column or bar chart option in the Graphics group. Choose the 3D horizontal layout and you have your Gantt chart area.

5. Fill in the data and format the Gantt chart as desired.

Gantt chart template

If you prefer not to start from scratch, you can download templates for creating Gantt charts from the Internet. These templates are configured with headers and formulas. So you just need to enter your information to quickly get a graph. Forbes Advisor has created free Gantt chart templates for Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets, with and without task dependencies.

If you use a project management tool, it will probably offer you Gantt chart templates as well.

Gantt chart software

Gantt charts are a project planning tool and are therefore included in almost all project management software. You can use Gantt chart software as a stand-alone desktop tool or an online version that can be easily shared with other stakeholders. If you are using desktop Gantt chart software, you can only have one local version which can be updated by yourself. Also, when you make changes, you need to share a copy with others.

On the other hand, if you are using software online, it can be easily updated and shared. You can even configure it to update automatically as assigned resources and team members work on each task.

When looking for Gantt chart software for your project management needs, make sure that it has the following features:

  • Define and update the milestones of your project
  • Link tasks according to predefined or customizable dependencies
  • Collaborate on a dynamic project plan
  • Share files as text, images, videos, or task summary notes
  • Monitor the progress of each task against the scheduled one

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How to make a Gantt chart?

You can create a Gantt chart in project management software or spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. The project management software automatically creates a Gantt chart from the project details you enter in it. You will need to create the Gantt chart from scratch if you are using a spreadsheet.

Who should use a Gantt chart?

If you are managing a project and need a visual way to track its progress, you can use a Gantt chart. Gantt charts can be used for projects of any size, no matter what industry you work in. They work well for everything from manufacturing, software development and design to content marketing.

Can I print a Gantt chart?

Theoretically, yes, you can print a Gantt chart, but you should check the print preview before printing it. Typically, these graphics span multiple pages, so remember not to include completed tasks or print only part of the graphic.

What are the advantages of using a Gantt chart?

A Gantt chart is a visual project management tool, so you can see the progress of a project and the associated tasks at a glance. It also allows you to modify your plan if critical tasks are delayed.

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