What is a Gantt Chart and What is its Importance?

In recent times, we often have to ‘juggle’ a lot of activities within a short period. Such scenarios put our management skills to test since we have to accomplish all tasks within the time slot for the activity. However, with the introduction of tools such as Gantt Charts, it becomes easier to ‘juggle’ between several activities and accomplish them on time without missing on important dates.

Gantt charts help in the successful completion of integrated activities that lead to one major result. You might ask yourself, what is a Gantt chart, and why is it important? Essayaxe.com explores the use of Gantt charts to help you get a better understanding and their importance in project management.

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Project management might come across a difficult task without proper strategies to around all essential activities. Ideally, the successful completion of a project requires that you take control of several activities and ensure that they are completed on time. In case you miss the deadline or extend a particular activity, then it would translate to a delay of the whole project. In most instances, lateness might lead to more costs than the initial budget. As such, it is often advisable to check out every activity that needs completion and the time schedule for each activity.

Gantt charts help you convey such information visually. Read on to find out the answer to, “what is a Gantt Chart and what is its importance?”

Gantt Chart Definition

A Gantt chart is a graphical representation of a project schedule, from the start to the end. Typically, the presentation relays important information on how a project is to be handled successfully within a specified amount of time, and with the allocated resources. Typically, the chart provides essential information such as the start and end dates of multiple elements of the project, including tasks, resources, milestones and dependency. The Gantt chart is widely used in project management as it greatly helps in monitoring, scheduling and managing tasks and resources within the project. As we progress, Essayaxe.com gives an in-depth understanding of what is a Gannt chart and what is its purpose.

Gantt Chart History

Towards the end of the 1800s, a Polish engineer, Karol Adamiecki, first designed and introduced a harmonogram which was essential in relaying a visual work flow chart. Later on, in 1910, an engineer and management consultant, Henry Gannt decided to extend Karol’s harmonogram concept. He decided to create a chart that would help supervisor in manufacturing plants (steel industry) visualize all activities at a glance. With this new chart, it was now possible to see all schedules of essential activities and figure out what is ahead and behind schedule. This new creation forms the basis of the widely use of Gantt charts.

Why is it Called a Gantt Chart?

Gannt charts are called so because they are named after Henry Gantt, who most people tend to think is the inventor of the strategy to plan projects on a bar chart. The first inventor of the strategy was Karol Adamiecki, who published articles on the invention in Russian and Polish so that those speaking English could not utilize the idea. In the end, Henry Gannt name stuck to the invention of the visual presentation of work schedules.

What is a Gantt Chart and What is its Purpose?

The main business of the day, is to answer the question, what is a Gantt chart, and why is it important? This section aims at giving a better understanding of the use of Gantt charts in project management.

A Gantt chart provides a graphical depiction or a presentation of a project schedule. The chart provides a platform where one can elaborate on important details of a project to ensure that the project gets completed on time, using the resources allocated for each task. The Gantt chart is a special tool that has been utilized by several industries to manage and monitor the progress of a wide range of projects. For example, Gantt charts can be helpful in monitoring and managing projects such as building bridges, highways, or dams and even in tasks such as software development.

Gantt charts have been widely used by project managers to improve teamwork and complete a project within allocated time frames. The Gann chart provides the following essential information:

  1. The project’s start date
  2. The essential tasks within the project
  3. Task allocated to each team member
  4. The order of tasks within the project
  5. The start and finish dates for each task
  6. The duration of each task
  7. Information on task grouping, overlapping, and linking.
  8. The end date of the project

Before the creation of Gantt charts, people had to illustrate all this information on a piece of paper or even by using coloured blocks. Afterwards, the Magnetic blocks and Legos™ became popularly known as a Gantt planning tool after the invention of Gantt chart software. Nowadays, people create Gannt charts on Excel sheets or by using the Gant Chart software.

What are the Main Features of a Gantt Chart?

This section of our article explores the components of the Gantt chart. Generally, a Gantt chart is designed by project managers to create a visual interface used to view, manage, and monitor the progress of different projects. Several features make Gantt charts unique for project management.

The features of a Gantt chart include the following:

The Task Grid

The task grid is that main feature of a Gantt chart. The grid contains details each task, including the duration, the percentage of work completed and the start and finish dates for each task. Additionally, the grid includes the names of assigned resources as well as the numbers of any previous tasks. Once you have the schedule created, you can edit the essential values by clicking on the appropriate cell and typing.

Normally, the Task grid is hidden by default by the Gantt chart canvas. Therefore, to view the grid, you will first have to double click the vertical divider that separates the Task list (usually present on the left side of the window) from the main Gantt chart. You can also decide to click and drag the divider to view the task grid.

Gantt Chart Canvas

The Gantt chart canvas is an area that provides the presentation of the carts itself. The Gantt chart canvas displays all tasks, including the resource icons (which displays the task assigned for each member), the dependency links, as well as any important baseline comparisons and path information.

Sidebar

The sidebar feature of the Gantt chart is an area within the chart that collapses upon clicking. It provides a list of all the team member and the baseline schedules for the project. The sidebar is important in adding team members, creating, selecting, and removing any baseline comparisons.

Note: Some of the features present on Gantt charts are only visible and accessible when you check the project task schedule out. In this case, for you to effectively view, add, edit, or delete any task, you will have to first check the project schedule out. Sometime, the ability to check the schedule out will depend on your role in the project and permissions.

How to Read a Gantt Chart

As mentioned earlier, a Gantt chart provides a graphical presentation of the progress of a project. The Gantt chart can be easily designed by tools such as SharePoint, Microsoft Visio, Project, and Excel. Sometimes, project managers use special software, i.e., Matchware and Gantto, to design and create Gantt charts.

The use of Gantt charts is very common in project management. The charts are essential in effectively planning the whole project and defining the sequences of the tasks within the project. In most instance, Gantt charts are usually in the form of a horizontal bar chart. The horizontal bars are usually of different lengths as they give information of the project timeline, including the order of tasks, the duration for each task, and the start and finish dates for all tasks within the project. The horizontal bars, therefore, helps in figuring out the needs of each task on an individual basis.

It is important to note that the length of each bar presented on the Gantt chart is directly proportional to the time need for the successful completion of the task. The individual tasks of the project are usually pon the vertical axis within the bar chart.

Understanding the Gannt Chart

In order to further understand what is a Gantt chart and what is its importance, we will tackle an example of how project management utilizes Gantt charts. We shall assume that we need to install software on a server. Given this, the first step will be to explore the steps and tasks needed for the successful completion of the project. The steps in installing the software require conducting thorough research, selecting the appropriate software product, testing it, and finally installing it on the server. The centre of this project is selecting the appropriate software.

Now that there is a clear outline of the necessary steps, it is safe to design a Gannt chart for the project. All the tasks or steps will be presented as vertical lines on the chart. The project needs 40 days for completion. Since our task line up has four separate tasks, we shall allocate 10 days for each task, meaning that the start of individual tasks will depend on the completion of previous tasks. The start and finish dates of tasks, including the duration is presented on the horizontal bars within the chart. Additionally, the horizontal bars provide the percentage of total work completed on the completion of one task.

What are the Benefits of a Gantt Chart?

Since we now understand what Gannt charts are and how they came to exist, this section discusses the benefits of using Gantt chart in project management.

In case you require using the Gantt chart as a special tool while pursuing the completion of your project, then you can be assured of the following benefits:

  1. Creates awareness of what’s going on in the project
  2. Improves team cohesion and communication
  3. Helps to eliminate overloads of resources
  4. Helps in gauging the progress of projects
  5. Provides clarity on the whole project
  6. Improves time management within the project
  7. Creates a platform to work with a remote team
  8. Boosts accountability
  9. Improves on flexibility
  10. Promotes a sense of transparency

Gantt Chart Problems

As much as Gantt charts have several advantages, there can also be a few disadvantages:

  1. Gantt charts can be complex: For simple projects, Gantt charts are easier to use as compared to a project with a large number of tasks. In this case, it is usually advisable that fewer people manage the project.
  2. The bar sizes do not give an indication of the amount of work: One cannot tell the level of resources needed to accomplish the tasks by looking at the bar sizes. For example, a longer bar may take 38 hours while a shorter bar might take 400 hours to complete.
  3. The need for constant updates: As the project progresses, you might need to be flexible in providing updates on the accomplishment of tasks.
  4. Cannot be viewed on one sheet of paper: The software used in providing the charts need viewing of the whole project in segments, on a computer screen. As such, it might be difficult to present the details of the project schedule to an audience. Furthermore, printing the chart might turn out as time-consuming as it usually requires an activity that involves a lot of ‘cut and paste’.

In conclusion, a Gantt chart is an important tool in managing projects. As such, if you intend to use the tool, it is important to understand what is a Gantt chart and what is its purpose. Afterward, you will have to learn how to create and use Gantt chart for the effective management of your project(s). In case you need more help with the creation and use of Gantt charts, do not hesitate to contact Essayaxe.com.

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