Projects are an integral part of all the industries today. They are the foundation of any new product or service that we get to see in the market.
But as the day passed, the whole process of a project management has become much complex, versatile and with so many team members from different domains and different risk factors, it is harder to track down the whole project and conduct it smoothly. But the electronic era has come with its own set of advantages- the tools and software.
Gantt chart is one such popular and highly preferred tool that is used vastly by so many industries nowadays.
» So, What is a Gantt chart?
We can say, Gantt chart is a horizontal bar chart that provides a visual view of the tasks scheduled overtime for planning a particular project.
By the Gantt chart definition, we can say that it is a tool that can track a project with all its components, risks, and resources while maintaining a deadline.
What is a Gantt chart used for? It is used practically in any field where a collaborative project can go on.
But why the name Gantt chart? The obvious answer is some management persona called Gantt had invented it. True, but there is more to the story. A Polish Engineer turned Management professional- Karol Adamiecki brainstormed this particular method in 1896. He named this method “Harmonogram”, and it had been recognized by the Polish and Russian people. But the English-speaking world came to know about this chat in 1910 from Henry Gantt. Though Karol gets the credit for the invention of this chart, the name popularly used is dedicated to Henry Gantt to date.
» What is Gantt Chart in Software Project Management?
In project management, the Gantt chart is a popularly used visual tool to plan and track the progress of the projects. Though this method started on paper, technology has brought us software suitable for this tool too. There are many Gantt chart software available nowadays, and a few of them are even online.
Online project scheduling planning software makes collaboration easy as it can give access to anyone to see it, and even edit the chart. Team members, management personas, and stakeholders can easily watch over the progress of the project once they have the links.
On the other hand, the traditional offline project management software can often make the chart large and it becomes hard to transfer. Additionally, all the people associated with the work must have the licensed software to access the chart. That would make the process of tracking harder and costlier too.
The different subtasks of a project can be related to one another, and these relationships play a crucial role in determining the workflow, timeline, and other aspects of a project. This relation can be of 4 types:
1. A task can begin after the previous one begins,
2. One task can begin after its predecessor task finishes,
3. One task can end after the previous one has started or,
4. A task can end after its predecessor finishes.
» What are the parts of a Gantt Chart?
This Gantt chart has several components or parts. Each of them is essential to set up a project plan and customize it for ease of using and tracking. The 9 Gantt chart elements are as follows-
1. Dates - This marks the start and ends the time of every individual task and the overall project. It helps to schedule the tasks and figure out a deadline.
2. Tasks - This is one of the most crucial Gantt chart components that is the small segment of the project. Proper planning of all these tasks can only give the project a favorable and timely execution.
3. Bars - Bars are used to schedule the timeline of each task. Due to the varying relationships of these tasks, setting up the bars is essential.
4. Milestones - Each task or subparts can have some milestones. These are the stepping stone for achieving the deliverables. The diamond sign represents a milestone.
5. Arrows - Subtasks may have some relationship or dependencies with other subtasks. Like, a subtask can only begin when the precious subtask has started or finished. These help us to determine the relationship of these subtasks.
6. Vertical line marker - A vertical line marker shows the current date on the chart. It determines what steps to take from now on. It visually represents how much task is yet to do to complete in the project.
7. Taskbars - Taskbar is another approach to have an idea of how far the project has progressed where the current tasks show the percentage to which work has been completed to date.
8. Task ID - It is another one of the essential Gantt chart parts. It helps to distinguish tasks when they are ongoing simultaneously with different people involved with them.
9. Resources - This component helps to allocate team members to particular tasks, though come software might not have this tool.
» How to create a Gantt chart for project management?
As you can see, several components and variables of this project management software make it a bit confusing to set up the chart for a project for the first time. But thanks to the latest user-friendly project plan management software, it is easy once you know the process of it.
› Here is the step by step guide of how to make a Gantt chart
• Open the software with your computer connected to the internet.
• Click on the new project. A blank chart will be there for you to use. Name it as the name of the project and start using it.
• Go to add tasks to add the subtasks required for the particular project. You will have a unique task ID for each project.
• Add due dates for each of the subtasks. The tasks will automatically adjust over the timeline so you can navigate the project.
» How to use a Gantt chart for project management?
Due to the collaborative nature of a project and its several subtasks and milestones, using it by multiple users over the internet needs some basic knowledge. But do not worry, we have got covered for you all about how to use a Gantt chart to plan a project.
• After setting up the initial task, a link generates for collaboration.
• Assign each task to respective team members.
• You can also customize the color and other options to make it easy to track and navigate, like setting a unique color for different team members.
• The team members can attach files or notes related to their work on the chart, so people can go through the works easily, and all the information can be there on a single view.
• The team members or organizers can also add some comments and notes to the tasks to guide the team about the project.
• After setting these up, the team members will keep receiving email alerts before the ending of their respective tasks automatically. And this way, there is even less chance to miss a deadline or any miscommunication among the team.
• You can also see the new updates one of the members has made after completing some or all of their respective tasks.
There are two techniques to advance the deadline of the project without decreasing the scope
1. Fast-Tracking - This overlaps the tasks to shorten the time required. But it can increase complexity and risk.
2. Crashing - It needs a continuous supply of resources that may lead to not utilizing them properly and increased cost.
Pretty easy, is not it! After you have cleared all your doubts regarding how to use a Gantt chart to monitor progress, you may have convinced yourself about how you can implement a Gantt chart in your upcoming project.
Still, have any doubts? Check out the next section to know about Gantt chart uses and benefits.
» What are the benefits of a Gantt chart?
In this day and era, the importance of a Gantt chart is infinite. For a team to collaborate and work efficiently, having a knowledge of what is a Gantt chart and why it is important is essential. Thus all the employees and the management personas can have an idea of how the project is going with the glance of an eye.
› Here are the main Gantt chart advantages:
1. Planning and scheduling of a project
To properly execute a project with all its desired outcomes and deliverables, a thorough plan is required. Proper planning can make the team prepared for most of the obstacles that they can face, and with proper strategy and timeline, the mindset of the team members is fixed.
› Plan in sprints
In modern project management methodologies like Scrum methodology, work is done in several short installments called sprints. These weeks-long or month-long sprints are easier to plan and execute with this Gantt chart.
› Planning the workflow
To visualize the total workflow is a major part of the planning, so one can easily detect any missing part or a probable malfunction or lagging. This Gantt chart gives them this overall view.
› Planned and actual timeline
Due to several reasons, a task can get delayed or even be finished early. Each way it can make an impact on the overall project outline, and even the strategy or timeline might have to be changed. This process makes it easy to track the change of timeline to execute a task from the planned one.
› Setting a deadline
Knowing when the team can cover up the ultimate project, and general people can start getting benefits from the service or project is crucial for the company as well as the stakeholders. Setting a deadline is the first step in planning.
2. Planning and scheduling of tasks
After setting a deadline for the overall project, dividing it into small parts, and focusing on planning them is essential. These tasks can also have some minor requirements or other dependable, all of which have to be planned.
› Breakdown to tasks
The visual approach of the Gantt chart makes it easy to maintain the flow of the project and break it down into several tasks.
› Know the timeline of a task
Each task will have a timeline, and indicating the probable timeline of them helps setting an accurate deadline for the overall project.
› Task across multiple platforms
A single task can be divided or spread over multiple platforms. Or even in the cases of the IT industry, one particular task can be shared by multiple projects running simultaneously. Tracking these tasks manually is usually a hectic job, so management personas take the help of this Gantt chart.
› Monitoring the progress
This chart makes it easy to track all the nitty-gritty of a project and all the pain points and also helps to stir up solutions to prevent them.
3. The collaboration of teams
The collaboration of team members with the same or different set of expertise and domains are the root of all small or large scale industrial projects. But setting their timelines and workloads with all their capabilities in mind is important. Gantt chart helps the companies regarding this point in many ways.
› Scheduling team members
Scheduling the task for each member becomes easy, and each member can have a clear idea of what they have to do and for how long. The communication among the workers becomes fluid in this way.
› Who is free and who is not
The management can track whether an employee has any task on that particular time frame or not quickly using this method. And this comes in handy in case some emergencies are to arrive.
› Time management
The project team can learn better time management as they are provided with their respective schedule beforehand. The workers will develop a better sense of accountability, transparency, and flexibility.
› Motivate remote workers
Team members working from their home can also feel associated with the project with the help of this collaborative approach.
The coloring, adding notes, and other customization options make the work easy to navigate, and we can check the required information quickly. Employees can also attach their respective works or references in this chart for the usage of everybody else.
Proper planning and tracking of each detail of the tasks make it easy to forecast some quantities like lagging of the project or budget estimation. These all are important to a company to understand clearly from day one. And this makes the importance of the Gantt chart in project management is massive.
Most Gantt chart software provides top-notch security. As it is used in industrial projects, extreme security is the priority of this tool to prevent leakage of essential details of a company.
› Determine CPM
Determining the Critical path method of a project by considering all the tasks helps to determine the expected workflow or timeline of a project, and this tool helps to track the CPM.
› Linked risks
All the sprints or tasks may have some linked risks like negative feedback or go out of resources supplies. In this method, we can calculate all these possibilities and take the corresponding safety measures.
So we can see that there are numerous benefits of using a Gantt chart for project planning and management.
» Who uses the Gantt chart?
After knowing all the benefits, you may be wondering who exactly needs this Gantt chart? If you are not clear yet, let me answer that for you- nearly everybody associated with the project.
In terms of positions, this can have
• Project managers,
• General managers, Team leaders,
• Operations managers,
• Scheduling managers,
• Marketing managers,
• Team members of all levels etc.
If you want to know the sectors and industries who use or can get benefits from this Gantt chart, there too is a large list waiting for you, for example
• IT industries,
• R&D departments,
• Project management teams,
• Oil and Gas,
• Public works,
• Telecommunication industry,
• Remote works,
• Product development industries,
• Manufacturing and architecture industries,
• Professional services,
• Consultancy services,
• Event planning industry etc.
Undoubtedly, there is an immense possibility of a Gantt chart for teams.
By now, you have the basic idea of a Gantt chart and its importance in project management. You also know what is a Gantt chart used for, and the different Gantt chart parts.
No matter which industry you are in or which position you work for, if you are working on a collaborative project, there is always a scope of this Gantt chart for you. The varieties of software available nowadays can make it a bit difficult for you to choose one. But take your time and search through the internet. Or, for better clarification, you can download the software or get the free versions and use it for a limited time. It can give you enough first-hand experience, and you can gain expertise over this tool before using it for an actual project.