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What is a Gantt Chart?

14 Mar

The Gantt Chart was first developed by Henry Laurence Gantt in the 1910’s and is the most used scheduling tool in project management.  Businesspeople are quite familiar with how a Gantt chart shows the project timeline and milestones and how clearly each step of the project is illustrated.  Each of the tasks are often represented by a series of different color bars, somembers of a project management team can identify their jobs in a project at a glance.  There are several software options to utilize to create a Gantt Chart, ranging from Microsoft Project 2007, Excel, Google Docs, and several others you can download for free or pay for off the internet.

Benefits:

1) Clear Communication: Ability to boil down multiple tasks and timelines into a single document and provides a great status update on the project, that reduce meetings, as the visual chart provides all this detailed information

2) Coordination of Work Load: Ability to sequence events and reduce the potential for overburdening team members.  Gantt charges use combinations of charts to breakdown projects into more manageable sets of tasks

3) Motivation: Some team members become more effective when faced with a form of external motivation, which Gantt Charts offer teams the ability to focus work at the front of a task timeline or at the end

4) Time Management & Efficiencies: Allows team members understand the overall impact of the project delays that can foster stronger collaboration, while encouraging better task organization.  Gantt Charts allow team members to leverage of each other’s deadlines for maximum efficiency.  For example, while one team member waits on the outcome of three other tasks before starting a crucial piece of the assignment, he or she can perform other project tasks.  Visualizing resource usage during projects allows managers to make better use of people, places, and resources.

5) Manageability: By visualizing all of the pieces of a project puzzle, managers are able to make more focused, effective decisions about resources and timetables

6) Accountability: When project teams face major organizational change, documenting effort and outcomes becomes a crucial part to career success.  This allows both project managers and participants to track team progress, highlight big success and failures, and helps during professional review periods to show team members who frequently exceed expectations to leverage this documentation to gain larger raises or bonuses

Disadvantages:

1) Dependencies: Gantt charts relate to task dependencies, therefore, project managers illustrate tasks in a project, but they want to show how the tasks depend on one another.  Gantt charts do not effectively address the dependencies between jobs, although constraints can be added as vertical lines.

2) Inflexibility: Projects as we all know are ever-changing, so expect changes to happen along the way.  Gantt charts are no that flexible, as they don’t accommodate changes.  Project managers must finish all the estimates before they can produce a chart, so when the estimates change, then they must redraw the chart. 

3) Illustration Constraints: It is difficult to show slack and the critical path without adding additional notation. Scheduling and resource assignments are not easy to illustrate

Image Credit

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3 Comments

Posted by on March 14, 2011 in Project Manager Tips

 

3 responses to “What is a Gantt Chart?

  1. Steve B

    March 14, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Gantt Chart is very helpful in a large scale project with 10 or more people. I must say 🙂

     
  2. Mike Coughlin

    March 21, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Great post on the usefulness of the Gantt chart with its benefits and pitfalls. 🙂

     
  3. Lisa Drake

    March 21, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Thanks Steve and Mike for your comments. Glad to hear you enjoyed reading it!! 🙂

     

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