Think for a while about how challenging it would be for a juggler to juggle a dozen balls at once. He has to keep his eye on all balls, and know when to catch each one. If he missed just one ball, this could spoil his whole performance. Project management is just similar to this example. For successful completion of project a company must have to control a large number of activities, and ensure that they all are completed on defined schedule (time frame).
If a particular company miss a time deadline or finish a task out of defined sequence, it will definitely have knock-on effects on the rest of the project. This will result in a late delivery of project, and cost of project execution will also increase. That’s why it’s helpful for successful companies to make such a balance plan about the activities that needs to be done, and by that Plan Company can know, at a glance, when each activity needs to be completed.
For this purpose companies used Gantt charts that convey all this information visually. This chart outlines all of the tasks and their order, involved in a project, shown against a timescale. This gives companies an instant overview of a project, its associated tasks or activities, and when these need to be finished.
Origins of the Tool
A Gantt chart is a type of bar chart which is developed by Henry Gantt in the 1910s, and this chart illustrates a project schedule. Henry Gantt was a engineer and management consultant, he actually designed this chart to help manufacturing supervisors see whether their work was on, ahead of, or behind pre-defined schedule, and it formed the foundation of the Gantt chart tool which many companies use today.
In this article, I would explain why Gantt charts are so useful for different companies, and I would also explain how companies can use them to organize their projects and keep project team informed of progress.
Why Use Gantt Charts?
When a company set up a Gantt chart for a project, it needs to think about all important tasks or activities involved in that particular project. As part of this process, company also need to identify, who will be responsible for each task or activity, how long each task will take, and what problems project team may encounter during the implementation stage.
This detailed thinking will help the company to ensure that the schedule is workable, that the right people (human resource management) are assigned to each task, and that company management or project team has workarounds for potential problems before company or team starts project.
Gantt charts also help a company to work out about practical aspects of a project, for example the minimum time project will take to deliver, and which tasks or activities need to be completed before others can start. Plus, company can use Gantt charts to identify the critical path – the sequence of tasks or activities that must individually should be completed on time if the management or team wants whole project is to deliver on time.
Finally, company can use Gantt charts to keep project team and its sponsors informed of project progress. Company can also easily and simply update the chart to show schedule changes and their implications on the particular projects, or use it to communicate that important tasks have been completed.
How to Create a Gantt chart?
Here is an example of Gantt chart in figure below:
To create a Gantt chart for a project company should follow these steps:
Step 1: Identify Essential Tasks or Activities
A Gantt charts will not give useful information until company will not include all of the important activities needed for a particular project or project phase to be completed. So, to start, companies should list all of these activities. Company should always use a work breakdown structure if it needs to establish what the tasks are. Then, for each task, company should note down its earliest start date and its estimated duration.
For example if a company won a tender to develop new “Software” and it organize a team and makes a manger that will be in charge of the project.
Now project manager decide to use a Gantt chart to organize all of the necessary tasks of the project, and to calculate the overall required timescale for delivery of the project.
Now manger need to start by listing all of the key tasks that have to take place, and also estimate how long each activity should take to complete. Your list will be like as follows:
Step 2: Identify Project Task Relationships
Gantt charts visualize the relationship between the tasks in a project. In a project some tasks will need to be completed by project team before it can start the next one. For instance, if a company wants to create a public awareness brochure, it needs to finish the design of brochure before sending it to print.
So in a project there are two types of activities, first one are dependent activities and called “sequential” or “linear” task and second one are “parallel” task those can be done at the same time as other tasks. Companies don’t need to do these in sequence, but it may sometimes need other tasks to be finished first.
For example the design of company brochure could begin before the text has been edited although company would not be able to finalize the design of brochure until the text become perfect.
So a company or project manger needs to identify which of project’s tasks are parallel, and which are sequential. Where the tasks of project are dependent on each others, project manager should note down the relationship between them. This will give management or project manger a deeper understanding of how to organize company project, and it will also greatly help when you start scheduling activities on the Gantt chart.
Step 3: Input Activities into Free Project Software or a Template
Management of the company or project manager can draw Gantt charts by hand or by the help of using Free Project Management Software such as Microsoft Project, Gantto, or Basecamp and also by the help of Free Gantt chart Templates. Several templates have been created for Gantt chart in Excel, and company can also find free Gantt chart templates with a quick search online.
Step 4: Chart Progress
As a company project moves along, it will evolve. For instance, in Human Resource Management scenario, if quality assurance of core modules encountered a problem, then company or training manger may need to delay training, and stop development of the management information system until the issue is resolved or an alternative solution find out by the manger.
Step 5: Update the Gantt chart & Monitor
Company or project manger should regularly update the Gantt chart to reflect changes as soon as they occur. This will help management or manger to keep project plans, project team, and project sponsors up to date.
Pulling it all together Gantt charts are very useful for planning and scheduling projects. They help a company assess how long a project should take, determine the financial and human resources needed, and plan the order in which company complete the required tasks to accomplish the project. As I mentioned above these charts are also helpful for managing the dependencies between tasks.
By the help of Gantt Charts Company can monitoring a project’s progress once it’s underway. Company or manger can see what should have been achieved by a certain date and, if the project is behind defined schedule, project manager or company can take action to bring it back on course.