Be it an experienced project planner or new to project management, without proper monitoring and tracking initiatives, it will be difficult to execute tasks as efficiently and effectively as possible.
As time and resources are finite in every project, project managers ensure that each step is on point and executed with the right amount of effort and resources. Going beyond deliverable dates entails losses. To avoid this, effective project managers use tools which help them monitor the entire project from a wider perspective.
Gantt charts are one of the commonly used project management tools. Apart from its user-friendly feature and simplicity of use, Gantt charts display the expected durations of each task and activity required and the progress being made.
Essentially, Gantt charts help project managers in managing time effectively, adjust activity when necessary and prioritise tasks based on the designated time frames.
How to make a Gantt Chart?
Thankfully you do not have to make one from scratch! MS Excel has templates ready for you to use if you don’t have one yourself – it can be downloaded from: Free Gantt Chart Excel Template – Gantt Excel.
Once you have downloaded it, it is pretty simple to use. Each project manager and organisation will have their own style in doing Gantt Charts as there is no standard way of doing it. Here are some useful tips which will come in handy when creating your own:
- Be as specific as you can be in the main information about your project – you will be asked to input the name of the project along with the budget specifics and the various positions and roles of everyone involved. This is crucial to keep track of your finances but also to effectively measure the performance of each staff member in executing the assigned tasks.
- Differentiate tasks by parent and child – remember the whole point of a Gantt chart is to keep track of all the activities there are in a project. The utility of a Gantt chart will be useless if tasks along with other milestones are not completely included in the roster. Tasks are easy to input, just click add task then several prompts will appear. Be as detailed as much as you can – from start and end dates, baseline resources, manpower and other factors needed for the project.
- It may be that not all tasks can be completed once and by one person. If a task requires several people to finish and in different intervals, break it into smaller tasks, then create parent-child relationships. This way it is easy to manage and track.
- Be stringent with milestones – help your team stay on track and be accurate. Aside from the start and end dates, Gantt charts allow holidays and non-working days to be incorporated into the calendar, making it easier for you to manage the time and avoid the trouble of manually looking into the calendar for these details.
- Perhaps one of the most important features of Gantt charts is the prioritisation column. Under this, you can categorise each task in order of priority so once you filter tasks according to order of priority, it is easier to identify which are behind, giving you contingency to address it before it even causes any major disruptions to the project.