The Gantt chart is an essential tool in project management that can help make the difference between a successful project and one that runs over budget and timeline.
The ability to establish and then clearly see — and communicate — the project timeline, as well as the time allotments for individual tasks, makes Gantt charts invaluable for us in managing our projects.
We know PMs who don’t use them; we’re just not quite sure why!
In this article, we’ll discuss exactly what Gantt charts are, where they originated, and how you can use them on your projects.
The Gantt Chart, Explained
Gantt charts are organized horizontally, with the timeline of the project along the top and each task represented by a horizontal bar.
The length of the bar represents the duration of the task and the position of the bar on the timeline shows when the task is scheduled to start and end.
This allows project managers to quickly identify any potential issues or delays in the schedule.
Photo Credit: Zorkow, CC BY-SA 4.0
Where Did Gantt Charts Come From?
The chart is named after Henry Gantt, a pioneer in the field of management who developed the chart at the start of the 20th century.
Gantt was an American mechanical engineer and management consultant.
Born in 1861, Gantt studied mechanical engineering at the Columbia School of Mines. He began his career working as a mechanical engineer and later became a consultant, helping companies improve their efficiency and productivity.
Gantt introduced his revolutionary chart in the early 1900s.
His ideas and methods were influential among managers, and he is considered one of the pioneers of modern management techniques.
Gantt was also a leading contributor to the development of Management Science, and his work laid the foundation for many of the project management methods used today.
Gantt died in 1919, but his legacy lives every day through the continued use of the Gantt chart.
Benefits And Uses Of Gantt Charts
Among the key benefits of Gantt charts is their ability to show the dependencies between tasks.
This is represented by arrows connecting the different tasks, showing which tasks must be completed before others can begin.
This helps project managers understand the critical path of the project, which is the sequence of tasks that must be completed on time in order to meet the project deadline.
Gantt charts can also show the progress of a task by using different colors or shading.
This allows project managers to see at a glance which tasks are on schedule, which are behind, and which are at risk.
This is particularly useful for identifying tasks that are at risk of falling behind schedule, so that action can be taken to bring them back on track.
Finally, Gantt charts are useful for communication with stakeholders and team members.
They provide a clear and easy-to-understand overview of the project, which can be used to explain the project plan, progress, and any potential issues.
Gantt charts can be incredibly useful for project managers, providing a clear and concise way to track and share progress.
Gantt charts are intuitive and highly visual tools, making them excellent for communicating project plans and status updates to stakeholders and team members.
They can help a PM identify issues and delays, and better understand the dependencies between tasks.
They are a simple yet powerful tool that can help make a project run smoothly and on time.
If you’re not using Gantt charts in your projects, you should consider adding them!