With Gantt charts you can say goodbye to arduous and outdated spreadsheets that just make your work more confusing. Gantt charts act as an interactive timeline that shows you the order you should complete tasks, their due date, duration, and other details like their percentage of completion over time. These powerful features make Gantt charts useful for managing complex projects in industries like construction, manufacturing, software development, and event planning. In fact, Gantt charts are considered an essential tool for project managers. So why use Gantt charts for project management? And what exactly are they to begin with?

 

What is a Gantt Chart?

A Gantt chart is a project management tool that allows you to create a project schedule by placing tasks on a timeline. Essentially, the chart is a visualization of the tasks you need to complete in order to finish your project. The Gantt chart consists of tasks organized on horizontal bars of different lengths, which represent the lengths of time needed to complete each task. 

 

History of the Gantt Chart

The Gantt chart was first developed by a Polish engineer named Karol Adamieki in the mid 1890’s. Around 15 years later, American engineer and project management consultant Henry Gantt developed his own version of the chart. His version became popular in the United States and was thus named the Gantt Chart. His version is the one we still use to this day. At the time, these charts were painstakingly drawn, erased, and redrawn by hand. Now, we are lucky enough to have the ability to quickly construct, redo, and add to these helpful charts using computers and project management software.

 

Gantt Chart Structure and Example

Simple example of a Gantt chart 

Each Gantt chart contains two parts: a grid or task list on the left hand side, and a project timeline on the right. 

 

Grid/Task List

The grid or task list is the most important component of the Gantt chart. It contains your list of project tasks and scheduling information about each one. The data you enter into your grid is used to populate your timeline. Many Gantt chart grids include information like the tasks name, priority level, and owner as well as project milestones, project phases, resource requirements, and total and estimated costs. 

 

Project Timeline

The project timeline on the Gantt chart is “a stacked bar chart where each project task is represented by a bar that runs on the horizontal axis”. Each bar represents the time it takes to start and finish a task. So, the place where the bar begins is the start of the task, and the place where it ends is where the task is completed. The longer the bar, the longer the task is supposed to take to complete. 

 

Who/ What Uses Gantt Charts? 

 

  • Project Management in general- Gantt charts allow project managers to visualize all the elements of their project plans in one place. Project managers use Gantt charts to schedule their projects, allocate resources for projects, set cost and scope baselines, identify the critical path, and more. 


  • Construction- Construction project managers, owners, and contractors use Gantt charts to plan each phase of a construction project from initiation and pre-construction, to procurement, construction, and post-construction. 


  • Manufacturing- You can use Gantt charts for many purposes in manufacturing. For example, you can use the charts to create production schedules, product roadmaps, and to track product development. 


  • Software Engineering- Software engineers can use Gantt charts when creating project roadmaps, which they use to manage tasks and develop products, manage tasks, and more. 


  • Portfolio Management- Portfolio managers use Gantt charts to create portfolio roadmaps, which allows them to track multiple projects at the same time. 

 

Gantt Charts for Risk Management

In project management, risk management, or risk analysis, is the process of identifying, analyzing, and responding to factors within a project that could cause problems in the project. Essentially, risk management is a way of identifying and managing potential problems before they arise. You can think of risk management as sort of like trying to predict the future based on data. Gantt charts are a great tool to help you make these predictions. 

 

Why use Gantt Charts for Project and Risk Management? 

Gantt charts are a key element of project management – and they’re particularly useful when it comes to assessing and managing risks. That’s because they allow you to:

 

  • Visualize and Track Project Timelines – 

You can visualize and track project timelines easily with your Gantt chart. Gantt charts display the start and end dates of each task clearly on your timeline. Project managers will be able to easily see dependent, completed, and overlapping tasks. 

 

  • Identify Critical Path Dependencies – 

With the Gantt chart, project and/or risk managers can identify which tasks are on the critical path (tasks that you must complete on time to prevent delays in the overall project), understand the dependencies between tasks and prioritize certain tasks. This can help you keep the project on track.

 

  • Effectively Allocate Resources –

Gantt charts can help risk managers to effectively allocate project resources. Because the charts show you the scheduled tasks and their durations, you’ll be able to more easily optimize your resource allocation and avoid overloading or underutilizing resources.”

 

  • Communicate Project Plans –

Gantt charts present clear visual representations of your project’s plan. This makes it easy to communicate the plan to team members and stakeholders so they can understand the project’s status and potential risks. 

 

  • Flag Bottlenecks –

Gantt charts can help identify potential bottlenecks in the project workflow so you can mitigate and prevent them down the line. 

 

  • Identify Schedule Delays –

Because Gantt charts show you the whole schedule, they can help you identify potential delays that might occur during the project. Oftentimes one delayed task can risk impacting the entire project. With a Gantt chart, you’ll be able to see which tasks could be a problem in relation to the whole schedule. That way you can prioritize them, or try to mitigate any problems. 

 

 

Project Management Software with Gantt Charts

 

There are many different software programs that feature Gantt charts as part if their project management solutions. A couple that we offer at Taradigm are:

Primavera P6 

Oracle Primavera Cloud

 

Conclusion

Gantt Charts act as an all-in-one tool to manage even the most complex project schedules. With Gantt charts, you’ll unlock the power manage, track, and analyze your project schedule on an interactive timeline. Among other benefits, Gantt charts allow you to effectively allocate resources, identify critical path dependencies, communicate project plans and identify various risks. Utilizing a Gantt chart is sure to be beneficial no matter your project’s size or complexity.

 

 

 

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