What is a Gantt Chart and Why You Need it for Project Management

Interested in the Gantt chart? You’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll walk through the key elements to the chart and how you can use it to improve your project management. 

The Gantt chart first came to fruition in the 1980s by a Polish engineer, Karol Adamiecki. He wanted an effective process to work with steel, and this chart made it possible for him to accomplish a better system. Almost two decades later, Henry Gantt popularized the chart, hence the official name. Since then, the Gantt chart has influenced much modern software in the project management field.

TeamGantt defines the chart as “…a horizontal bar chart that visually represents a project plan over time. Modern Gantt charts typically show you the status of—as well as who’s responsible for—each task in the project.” 

This project-planning tool makes it possible to break up a project day-by-day, task-by-task, into practical steps and solutions. In the past, the chart would be handwritten. While still effective, this was laborious and took up a lot of time. Today, there are platforms and software that make it seamless.

The Gantt chart advantage of coordinating and leading projects gives managers the power to execute their goals through an organized and intentional strategy successfully.

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How the Gantt Chart Works

Your Gantt chart advantage starts with a foundational understanding of the components you would need to make it work. 

There are many symbols, arrows, and other practical tools you can use to develop the flow in the chart, and this is apparent when checking out different versions of the chart and using software. Here, however, we’ll look at the conceptual components that make project management possible. 

Dates & Timeline

The most useful feature by far is the way the Gantt chart uses its calendar to put the project in perspective. By organizing it by each day, professionals can get a visual understanding of what needs to be done and on what days. The calendar functions like a flowing timesheet, where each phase of the project is documented based on the estimated days it will take to complete it.

Tasks

Each task will be organized on the calendar. When inputting every important phase and element, the Gantt chart advantage enables you to see it all in one place and assess what it will take to get it done. 

Bars

One of the most distinguishing features for the Gantt chart is the bars. Each bar holds a task, stretching out according to the number of days it will take. Each date is labeled, and the bars signify, for example, that one task will take Tuesday and Wednesday to complete.

Arrows & Dependencies

Not every task is black and white. Some need to be completed at the same time or before the next one. Arrows and inputs to include dependencies make it possible to plan a successful strategy.

Tracking

Tracking the progress of a project is vital to success. The Gantt chart utilizes shading to signify the status of a task. In combination with the dates and timeline feature, this allows managers to see the whole picture and interpreting whether they’re on schedule. 

Milestones

These are the big moments, the benchmarks, that tell managers if their project is running successfully. The Gantt chart uses diamonds or similar symbols to mark these tasks as an important signifier for the health of the project. It may take many small tasks to complete a project, but the milestone is the rewarding line every professional aims to cross. 

Responsible Team Members 

A good manager knows that nothing can get done if a specific person isn't held accountable. The Gantt chart allows professionals to mark who is going to do the task and other relevant notes.

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The Gantt Chart Advantage and Benefits 

You can visualize the project

One of the most challenging parts about a critical project is the overwhelming feeling of being able to accomplish your goal. Many little steps add up to very real consequences. When you can see everything in one place, visually organized, a big project becomes possible again.

Each task and its components are clear

It can be challenging to communicate what's going on with a team or your superiors. When everything is documented and located in the same place, individuals can see what they need to do to improve the project.

You can break up the way the timeline as needed

When you can organize by day, month, week, you have the flexibility to create a schedule that fits the tasks at hand.

Easier to manage a team

When you can assign roles, expectations, and goals, managing a team becomes much more effective. A team also has access to the chart, which makes it easier for them to fulfill their expected duties. 

Project status is transparent

Clarity and communication mean everything in a team. When the project is visible on a chart, everyone is on the same page.

Completion is visible

When a task is complete, it’s documented on the chart, making project statuses and milestones easily accessible. When a team knows if they’re on time, they can measure their results effectively. 

Great for meetings

Have you ever had a tough time trying to communicate a project? The Gantt chart is the “everything-in-one-place” tool you’ll want to use at the next presentation. 

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Picking the Right Tool

As we learned through the various components of the chart, many features allow teams in project management. There are several great traditional Gantt charts, along with modern apps that have used the model to create amazing tools for businesses

Gantt chart software equips a team to implement the advantages of the chart but also saves hours through its quick and productive program and user interface.

If you choose to do it manually, there are also great templates available. Download these free templates!

The Gantt chart is just one of the ways you can add value to your projects and team. You can become an expert on this and many other processes through Simplilearn’s PMP Certification Training Course. We make learning simple and effective. Improve your career opportunities and output when you take the course that prepares you for the exam and certification.

About the Author

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Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

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