There are numerous project management planning tools which help in planning and scheduling the project activities. Gantt Chart is also a project management tool which is widely used for project planning and scheduling. In this post, we will learn, what the Gantt chart is, and how we can use it in managing projects.
What is Gantt Chart?
The Gantt chart is the graphical representation of various project activities against the time. It is a bar chart which shows start and finish dates of different activities of a project. It also depicts the resources and dependencies of the activities.
The Gantt chart is mainly used for following purposes:
(1) Established the project schedule
(2) Allocating resources to project activities
(3) Monitoring the project progress
(4) Control and communicate project schedule to stakeholders
(5) Display milestones
(6) Identify the issues
Gantt Chart was designed by Henry Gantt, an American mechanical engineer.
Components of Gantt Chart
The Gantt chart mainly has three components. Activities or tasks under the project, which are shown on Y axis; milestones or progress stages which are shown on the X axis and progress bars which are shown as horizontal bars, denoting the progress of each task at a given time.
Benefits of Gantt Chart
Gantt charts provide a bird’s eye view of the project. They display relationship among the tasks, i.e. whether the tasks are dependent on other tasks or they are independent. Some tasks may be executed in parallel and some other tasks cannot be executed before the finish of other tasks. The Gantt chart depicts such dependencies among the tasks. It can also show the bottlenecks and the tasks which are finished before the project deadline. The Gantt chart depicts the slake time or additional time available to complete a particular activity, critical activities that have to be completed on time and non- critical activities.
Example of Gantt Chart
Above figure demonstrates a simple Gantt chart. In this chart, five tasks are shown at Y- axis. In the X- axis, the time is shown. You may assume the time in days. It can be seen from the chart that, the task 1 is taking 2 days to complete and then task 2 begins, which takes six days and finishes at 8th day. Similarly, the task no. 5 begins at 20th day and finishes at 25th day, means it takes total 5 days. The project has total 5 tasks, which are dependent on each other. It means that next task completes begins only after the completion of previous task and the duration of total project is 25 days.
How to Use Gantt Chart?
The Gantt chart is basically a useful tool for overall visualization and planning of a project. A project is broken down in small parts, called tasks or activities and each task is displayed graphically w.r.t. its completion time. The dependencies among different tasks is also shown in the chart.
So basically the Gantt chart is used to see the overall picture of the project, milestones and dependencies among the tasks. It can be easily seen from the chart that which activities can be done in parallel and which has to be done sequentially. The activities, which are dependent on each other, i.e., cannot be done in parallel, form a critical path. Therefore, the project manager has to take care more of the activities on the critical path, to complete the project on time.
There is a tradeoff between resource allocation, time of completion and cost of the project. The Gantt chart helps project manager to allocate resources to various activities. He or she may try different combination for resource allocation by seeing the Gantt chart for which activities are most critical.
Gantt charts are very simple but powerful technique for managing the projects. There are several project management tools available now a day with the help of which, Gantt charts may be created and used for managing the projects successfully. The organizations should make is a practice to use Gantt charts to manage their projects.