One of the areas of project management that needs close supervision is the scheduling of tasks. This has a huge impact on any team’s overall productivity because if one task is missed, it may affect the completion of the succeeding tasks. One of the most important tools that project managers use is the Gantt chart which is an easier and more convenient way of looking at tasks scheduled overtime.
What is a Gantt Chart?
Though very useful, not a lot of people know what a Gantt chart is. Simply put, a Gantt chart is a visual view of tasks that have been scheduled overtime. It is useful for both small and big projects as it shows the tasks that are to be completed on a given day. Its interface is easy to see and understand as it shows the start and end times of every task. Additionally, a Gantt chart shows the following details:
- the project tasks
- the people assigned on the tasks
- the tasks’ start and end times
- the duration of every task
- the way tasks are grouped, link with each other, and overlap
Before the advent of Gantt charts, people used to draw on paper and colored them to make them easier to understand. Gantt charts have evolved since it was introduced and can now be created using various tools. Among these are Microsoft Excel and project management tools like Microsoft Project.
Microsoft Project for making Gantt Charts
Microsoft Project is one of the world’s most popular project management software, created and sold by Microsoft. It is a great tool for managing tasks, creating and assigning them, handling resources, and overseeing projects, among others.
Since making schedules that are easy to see and understand is an important aspect of project management, Microsoft Project can also be used for making Gantt charts. The great thing about this software is that it makes creating such charts easy. Every time Microsoft Project is opened, users will see a Gantt chart which only needs to be added with information in the tasks or resources columns.
How to make Gantt charts with Microsoft Project
Project managers who are using Microsoft Project should take advantage of the software’s capability for making Gantt charts. Here is a helpful tutorial for those who want to learn how to do it.
- Open Microsoft Project software and choose a blank project. This opens up a chart that looks almost exactly like an Excel spreadsheet. Since it is a blank chart, users can write the tasks on these columns.
- Create tasks. It would be helpful to prepare a task list on Excel and then copy these to the Project page. If not, users can simply type tasks manually. At this point, the tasks are automatically understood by Microsoft Project that they are to be completed in one day. This can be changed depending on the dependencies which will be described in the steps that follow. Then, choose the summary task and go to the TASK tab to indent the tasks under it. This makes the indented ones the subtasks. If there are subtasks to these subtasks, then, they should also be indented further.
- Then, to set the start and end dates of the tasks, users can click on the ‚Äòstart date’ field next to a specific task and choose a date from the drop-down calendar. Do the same with the ‚Äòend date’ field. Another way to do this is to go to the duration tab and manually input the number of days or hours a task has to be completed within.
- Adding a milestone is also helpful in showing that the project is in progress or that it has ended. One way of doing this is by creating a duration of 0 days which automatically converts the task as a milestone. A second way of doing this is by inserting a row where the milestone should be and then clicking the ‚Äòmilestone’ button on the ribbon. When all of these are set, the Gantt chart will show the tasks, how long they will be finished through the start and end dates, and if the project has already been completed.
- Users can also customize their Gantt charts according to how they want it to be or to suit their way of working. This can be done by fiddling with the division of time on the chart. The two levels of time are normally displayed in week and day. The top tier can be changed to months, years, or quarters while the bottom tier can be used to reflect the smaller division of time. Also, users can color-code their tasks, un-shade the non-working time, and personalize almost every other aspect of the chart.
Who can use the Gantt chart in Microsoft Project?
Gantt charts can be used by anyone, including:
- Team leaders
- Project managers
- Work managers
- Scheduling managers
- General managers
- Operations managers
Also, it can be used by teams, including:
- Marketing teams
- Project management teams
- Manufacturing teams
- Construction teams
- Healthcare teams
- Remote teams
- Telecommunications teams
- Government teams
- Public works teams
Benefits of using a Gantt Chart
There are so many benefits of using a Gantt chart which include:
- Planning activities in sprints
- Scheduling teams’ work
- Viewing tasks over time
- Planning and scheduling tasks
- Planning and scheduling projects
- Planning tasks across multiple projects
Managing projects has never been this easy with the help of project management tools like Microsoft Project. And because users can now make Gantt charts on this software, there are lesser chances of missing tasks. Teams can now become more productive and successful.
Learn more about Microsoft Project at TechRepublic Academy.
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