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Still wondering what Gantt charts are? Let me fill you in. At the onset of the 20th century, Henry Gantt revolutionized project management with his Gantt chart masterpiece. 

His Gantt charts provided supervisors with a bird's eye view of their workers' progress, enabling them to adjust task deadlines and make sure production schedules wouldn't be left in the dust. 

Gantt charts have contributed to some of the world's greatest feats—from creating the Hoover Dam to building up the American interstate network. 

Fast-forward to present day, Gantt charts remain one of the most universally relied-upon tools for project management, the only difference being its transition from paper to modern digital applications. It's no wonder Gantt charts are known as one of man's crafty inventions—proving that great ideas never grow old!

What Is A Gantt Chart?

A Gantt chart is the gift that keeps on giving. It's one of those tools that can help you stay organized and productive in an efficient way. 

A Gantt chart is essentially a visual representation of a project timeline: it shows an overview of individual tasks and deliverables, their duration, and when they should be started and completed. This type of chart provides insight into how each task needs to come together to create the desired outcome—whether it's finishing up a report or implementing a new system. 

Gantt charts are essentially bar charts, with each project task listed on the vertical axis of the chart. The horizontal axis is the amount of time, usually in days. Each task bar is proportional to how long the task will take.

Plus, it just looks cool! So don't forget: the Gantt chart might be the only tool you need to get your projects done right and on time, whether you’re working on software development projects, smaller digital projects, or even large scale construction projects.

What Is The Purpose of a Gantt Chart?

Gantt charts are like a high-powered roadmap for your project. They provide you with an organized and visual way of monitoring your project progress and milestones while keeping them realistic. With Gantt charts you can easily see what tasks need to be completed, when they start and end, who’s responsible, and how the individual tasks fit into the timeline. 

Thanks to Gantt charts, which are essentially bar graphs, it’s easy to plan out any project right down to the details, so you can ensure that everything is on track and running smoothly without missing any important deadlines. 

By tracking progress visually and in real-time, Gantt charts come in handy to identify any potential issues or delays and help you stay on track to achieving your overall project goal.

7 Benefits Of Using Gantt Charts

Gantt charts may not be the flashiest tool in a project manager's arsenal, but let me tell you something: they are an integral piece of any successful project plan

Not only do Gantt charts provide focused timelines and deadlines, they also offer insights into more complex projects than can ever be gleaned from to-do lists alone—making them a must-have resource for all savvy PMs out there. 

Now let’s look at 7 benefits of incorporating Gantt charts into your project plans: 

1. Better time management

Gantt charts can help you to better manage your time, as they allow you to see exactly what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. This can help you to avoid wasting time on tasks that are not essential and to better focus your efforts on the tasks that are most important.

2. Increased productivity

Gantt charts can also help to increase your productivity, as they allow you to better plan and organize your work. By knowing exactly what needs to be done and when it needs to be done, you can work more efficiently and get more done in less time.

3. Improved communication

Gantt charts can also improve communication between team members, as they provide a clear and concise way to share information. By using a Gantt chart, everyone will be on the same page and will know exactly what needs to be done and when it needs to be done.

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4. Reduced stress levels 

Gantt charts can also help to reduce stress levels, as they can help you to better manage your time and your workload. By knowing exactly what needs to be done and when it needs to be done, you will be less likely to feel overwhelmed by your work.

5. Greater clarity

Gantt charts also provide greater clarity regarding project timelines. This clarity can help project managers to make better decisions about how to allocate resources, and can help team members to better understand their roles and responsibilities.

6. Enhanced team collaboration

Gantt charts can also enhance collaboration among team members, as they provide a clear way for everyone to share information and communicate with one another. By using a Gantt chart, team members will be able to work together more effectively towards the common goal of completing the project on time and within budget.

7. Increased flexibility

Gantt charts can flex with projects of all sizes, from small to large—that’s an advantage no other tool offers! It’s like a Swiss army knife in your PM toolbox. Talk about utility! 

Gantt Chart Template

Gantt chart templates can be a lifesaver, and we've got the perfect one for you! Whether you're an Excel aficionado or partial to Google Sheets, our Gantt chart template is the answer to all your scheduling needs. Just download the template and start inputting your information right away!

I included instructions to make setting it up a breeze. No more spending hours trying to figure out how to create one—your Gantt chart solution is right here!

Read more about creating Gantt charts in Excel here.

What To Include In A Gantt Chart

A Gantt chart is by default a rather simple horizontal bar chart. However, that does not imply that this kind of project management tool isn't useful. 

These are the seven most essential components of any Gantt chart:

  1. List of tasks: what actions are required to complete this project?
  2. Start date and end date for each activity 
  3. Status indicator per task: is it on track, at risk, or delayed?
  4. Task dependencies: do tasks relate to each other?
  5. The project's start and end date
  6. Project milestones with dates
  7. The critical path of the project, which maps out all tasks and helps you identify which ones have to be completed first. It is essential for anyone trying to manage a large project or looking for ways to ensure every step gets done on time and on budget.

How To Make A Gantt Chart In 6 Easy Steps

Follow these steps to create Gantt charts with ease:

1. Determine the scope

The first step in creating a Gantt Chart is to determine the scope of the project. This means identifying what tasks will be included in the whole project, and allocating time and resources for each task. During this step, it is important to consider any external factors that could impact the project timeline or overall success, such as availability of materials or personnel.

2. Identify tasks and activities in the project

Once you have determined the scope of the project, it is important to identify every task and activity necessary for completion. These tasks should be organized chronologically from start to finish so that they can be easily translated into a Gantt chart. 

Depending on how detailed you want your chart to be, tasks can range from large-scale objectives such as “Create Brand Video” to small-scale subtasks such as “Design Storyboard”.

3. Sequence tasks and activities

After identifying all tasks necessary for completion of the project, they must then be sequenced in order of when they need to be completed. This means arranging them in chronological order with a clear beginning and end point. 

It is also essential to consider any task dependencies; some may need to occur before or after other tasks are complete in order for them to work properly.

4. Beware of the critical path

Once you have sequenced all the tasks correctly, it is important to identify which ones are on what is known as the critical path. These are those tasks that must be completed on time in order for other dependent tasks to stay on schedule, as well as those that cannot slip without impacting the overall project timeline. 

By locating these activities beforehand, you can adjust resources accordingly if needed so that everything runs smoothly during the execution phase.

5. Resource constraints influence timings

Before creating your Gantt Chart, it is essential to consider resource constraints that may affect the timing of particular assignments or even entire projects. This includes items like available personnel or budget limitations, which can result in additional delays or changes being made throughout the production process. 

Therefore, it is always a good idea to assess these factors beforehand so that any potential problems can be addressed before they get out of hand later down the line.

6. Make it visual

The final step in creating your Gantt chart is making sure it looks visually appealing by incorporating colors and labels into the design where appropriate. 

Doing this ensures information housed within the chart remains clear and easy to understand at a glance, enabling users to pinpoint key details quickly without needing to read through the entire document first—helpful especially when working under tight deadlines! 

Additionally, using graphics instead of words where possible helps make the planning process easier to understand for both novices and experienced professionals alike!

A Gantt chart is an effective way to plan out projects and to ensure that all steps are accounted for. By assessing potential problems before beginning, you can save yourself time and energy in the long run. 

Additionally, making your chart visually appealing with colors, labels, graphics, and more will help​​ everyone to understand the project quickly without needing to read through the entire document first. With these tips in mind, creating a successful Gantt chart should be easier than ever!

If you're looking to make a Gantt chart in Jira specifically, check out our tips and workarounds for Jira Gantt charts here.

How To Use A Gantt Chart

Gantt charts are an invaluable tool for project managers and teams looking to stay organized, and efficient. Therefore, we will discuss now how to use a Gantt chart effectively so that you can save time and energy in the long run!

Keep in mind that Gantt charts are not necessarily as useful for agile projects or projects using Kanban or a similar methodology.

1. Planning and scheduling

Gantt charts are often used in project management for planning and scheduling purposes. They can be used to create a timeline for a project, identify which tasks need to be completed and when, and track progress over time.

2. Resource allocation

Gantt charts can also be used to allocate resources to different tasks in a project. This can help to ensure that all tasks are properly staffed and that there are no bottlenecks in the project.

3. Dependency management

Gantt charts can also be used to manage dependencies between tasks in a project. This is important in ensuring that the project is completed on time and that all tasks are properly integrated.

4. Tracking deadlines and communication

Gantt charts can also be used as a communication tool between different stakeholders in a project. They can help to ensure that everyone is on the same page with regards to the project timeline and objectives.

In conclusion, Gantt charts are a powerful tool for project management. They allow for resource allocation, dependency management and tracking of deadlines, helping to ensure that projects remain on schedule, stakeholders have all the information they need, and that project teams can stay productive when tackling complex projects. 

Just don't let your Gantt charts get too crazy:

Now, let’s move on and see how handy Gantt chart software can save the day!

Gantt Chart Software

As a project manager, you always have your hands full with keeping track of projects and ensuring that all milestones on the project schedule are met. One way to make your life easier is to use Gantt chart software, but if the thought of creating a foolproof plan in Microsoft Excel has your head spinning, don't stress! 

With plenty of project management software solutions on the market, it has become so much simpler (and even fun!) to create modern Gantt charts for projects of any size. Read on for an overview of the top online Gantt chart tools for successful project management (including Microsoft Project, often considered the gold standard).

  1. 1. — Best for its customization capabilities
  2. 2. Height — Best for providing guest access
  3. 3. Smartsheet — Best work management solution for enterprise
  4. 4. Zoho Projects — Best for a detail-oriented solution
  5. 5. Wrike — Best with automated project scheduling
  6. 6. Miro — Best for a high level of flexibility
  7. 7. Microsoft Project — Best Gantt chart maker for its 38 years on the market
  8. 8. Canva — Best for a large bank of templates
  9. 9. GanttPRO — Best Gantt chart-oriented project management
  10. 10. Paymo — Best Gantt chart maker with built-in invoicing

When choosing software, in general you’ll want to look at things like whether it offers integrations with your existing tech stack, workflow automations, resource management capabilities, drag and drop editing abilities, and capabilities for tracking and monitoring progress, dependencies, and project task start dates and finish dates. 

It’s also worth looking into whether the tool has an app, which can be useful depending on your working setup. Find out more about what to look for in a Gantt chart maker here.

That’s A Wrap

​​If you're ever feeling overwhelmed by a project, just remember: there's a tool to help with that, and it was created over 100 years ago. Gantt charts are an incredible way to manage projects of any size, involving any number of people. They can be as simple or complex as you need them to be, and they provide tons of benefits. 

So next time you're starting a big project at work or home, don't forget the Gantt chart! 

And if you want more helpful tips and tricks delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to The Digital Project Manager newsletter now.

By Mandy Schmitz

Mandy Schmitz is a freelance consultant and project management expert with 10+ years of experience working internationally for big brands in fintech, consumer goods, and more.

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