What is a Gantt Chart?

Do you fall short in meeting your deadlines? Or have trouble ensuring your initiatives are being delivered within the parameters your team has set out at the onset?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

How to read a Gantt Chart?

Gantt charts are straightforward tools. You do not need prior training or orientation to understand the details in it. What is essential is for you to understand the significance of each part.

On the left side of each chart, tasks are numbered, while the top region towards the right indicates the time frame for each task.

Bars are used to represent the time: start date to end date of each activity. This is to provide a visual representation of how each task is interrelated and the delay or early finish of one activity will have a domino effect on the rest. This also indicates which activities overlap and by how much.

Columns are also dedicated to track the percentage of completion, level of prioritisation and the responsible teams or personnel involved. These columns are usually located in the left side after the list of activities at the far-most left column.

As the chart progresses to the right, it is divided into months and weeks, indicating the length and durations of each task. Breaks are included to represent the end of a task and the start of a new one.

You will also notice that a column is included to calculate the time left for the project. This is based on the baseline timeline set while creating the chart. As each task progresses, delays committed, overlaps happen and so on, the calculation will differ and adjust.

How to use a Gantt Chart?

Just like excel files, you can use filters to easily navigate Gantt charts. Click and choose your desired filter to check and data will appear in the drop-down. Extract and study the data you need with ease allowing you to make decisions swiftly and decisively as possible.

The most important thing in using Gantt Charts is checking the duration of each task. This is the main feature and purpose of Gantt Charts. Just select the column and tick the data you need, MS Excel will generate it for you.

The good thing with Gantt Chart being integrated in applications such as MS Excel is it is becoming easier to use. The most commonly used is still MS Excel but there are other companies who have also ventured into providing project management tools akin to a Gantt Chart.

Provek offers a comprehensive set of project management tools that businesses can use for their internal and external activities. Enquire now to find out more of our product offerings or visit the website

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