What is a Gantt Chart?

Illustrating the progress of a project or the activities of a business in a visual form through a chart allows the audience to recognize patterns quickly. When viewing tasks scheduled over a time period, a Gantt chart is one of the best ways to provide complete information. Named after American engineer and management consultant Henry Gantt, teams use Gantt charts to manage and monitor projects.

What is a Gantt chart?

A Gantt chart is a document that combines nested lists, bar charts, and timelines. A list of activities appear on the left of the document. A timeline of regularly spaced duration such as days or weeks appear on top, covering the rest of the document right of the activity list. A horizontal bar appears opposite an activity or task with its length displaying duration and its position depending on its start and end dates. At a glance, it is easy to see which tasks appear first, which ones will end later, and which ones have the longer duration. The Gantt chart allows teams to view the sequence of tasks, critical dependencies, and overall project duration.

Gantt chart

What are Gantt charts used for?

Gantt charts display schedules

Project teams choose Gantt charts to display schedules. It shows planned tasks and the day or period team members need to work and complete them. It can provide comprehensive information in addition to tasks and due dates, such as individual task progress, overall project progress, and members responsible for the tasks. Gantt charts demonstrate the relationship of tasks over time and its sequence, dependencies, critical path, and milestones. It is a vital project plan that helps teams follow a sequence of tasks on a given schedule to make sure they complete the project by a given date.

Gantt charts show project stages

A Gantt chart can cover the entire duration or lifecycle of a project. It can display major divisions, phases, or stages of a project part by part to provide focus. Gantt charts can display a small project in its entirety on a single screen. For larger or longer projects, modern project management Gantt chart software can easily expand or collapse sections to display only a certain stage.

Gantt charts document project progress

Modern computer programs create Gantt charts easily. Project management software solutions now include collaborative Gantt chart capabilities that allow teams to update the chart as soon as members complete their tasks. The project manager does not have to manually update individual elements of the chart because they display the most current status of tasks worked on by assigned team members.

Limitations of Gantt charts

Teams use Gantt charts mainly for project schedule management. They do not put all project information in a Gantt chart because it is counter-intuitive and can defeat the main purpose of the chart. For instance, employee timesheet or budget/cost details are not shown in Gantt charts. Too much information can make it incomprehensible and confusing. Other documents and reports can provide supporting information.

Modern Gantt chart tools

A Gantt chart is useful for projects of all sizes and complexity. But manually tracking and updating a large, complex project is difficult, exhausting, and inefficient. Computer programs do a better job in creating Gantt charts. Project management software solutions now include sophisticated features, integrations, add-ons, and plugins that build dynamic and interactive Gantt charts that can predict and make recommendations to keep projects on track.

Gantt chart preparations

Creating a Gantt chart allows you to check and finalize your project plan. It will help you list tasks in the right priority and order. You can break down larger tasks into more manageable sub-tasks. Gantt charts also allows you to link dependable tasks, so a team member can only start a task if they’ve completed the previous one in which it depends on. This helps identify your critical path or the longest sequence of tasks and its duration for a project to end successfully.

Gantt Chart Example with Mavenlink

Mavenlink cloud-based project management software shows an example of its dynamic Gantt chart. It helps users collaborate and manage projects with ease. Mavenlink’s Gantt charts enable users to create a visual timeline of a project’s progress, optimize a team’s productivity, and quickly assess task dependencies. The charts allow them to get a quick snapshot of a project’s current progress, providing them critical visibility that immediately informs them when a project is at risk of being late or going over budget.

 

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