Gantt Charts – A Study

Gantt Charts

Introduction

An American management consultant and engineer, Henry Gantt devised this chart in his own version making it extremely popular all through the western world. No wonder the chart was named after him. In the days of yore people used to prepare it manually making amendments or redrawing the necessities every time changes occurred in a project. This in turn limited their use considerably. Today, however, presence of software for project management and computerized techniques has made creation, updates, and printing of these charts extremely easy. The main use of these charts is in tracking the project schedules. It gives additional information related to different phases and tasks such as their relationships, degree of progress, resources related to every task, and more.

How to use Gantt chart in your project?

Before setting up the charts, you need to determine the tasks involved with your project. It involves identifying people associated with every task, its duration, and probable issues that may crop up during this. Detailed thinking ensures that you have a workable schedule and that you have assigned the right people for various tasks. It also follows through that you have appropriate workarounds related to potential problems prior to starting. With the help of these charts, you can work out the various practical aspects associated with your project like minimal delivery time, task priority setting, and identification of critical path.

If you want to complete your project within the assigned time, it is important to ensure sequential completion of every task as per schedule. Another use of these charts is in communicating progress to your sponsors and team. Just update your chart and it will show the scheduled changes along with their implications. If you want, you can use them to communicate the news of completion of key tasks.

Stages in the creation of Gantt chart

<p>A. Identification of essential tasks: you don't get useful information from Gantt chart unless you include all the different activities required for particular project phase or the overall project. So the first step will be to list out all activities that you need to complete. For this, people generally use the breakdown work structure to establish and define various tasks. Now for every task you need to know down its start date along with estimated duration.

B. Task relationship identification: this chart shows relationships between the various tasks associated with the project. You need to complete certain tasks before beginning the others. Similarly, succeeding ones will fail to begin until the completion of preceding ones. Since activities dependent upon each other are the linear or sequential tasks. Parallel tasks are the ones that can go on simultaneously with others without collision. So it is important to identify both parallel and linear tasks and grade them separately. In case of dependent tasks, note down their relationship. This helps you to organize your project successfully and begin on-chart scheduling activities.

C. Input of activities in template or software: those who want might still do manual chart creation or may use one of the various software solutions available these days. Many of these cloud-based so that you and everybody related to your team may view it simultaneously when required irrespective of the location. This proves to be a great help when one is reporting, optimizing, or discussing on projects.

D. Chart progress: the project evolves as it moves along. For example, if a problem were to arise in the core module of quality assurance you may have to delay the training or halt developments in information management system. This hiatus in the project progress will continue until after the resolution of the issue. Ideally, your chart should reflect the changes as and when they happen. This way, you'll be able to ensure that your team, plans, and the sponsors remain updated.

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Benefits of using Gantt chart

When you want to display the various activities, events, or tasks against time one of the most popular methods to do this is use of Gantt charts. The left side lists out the various activities that you need to complete and the top of the chart contains the timescale. Bars represent the activities where its length and position reflects starting date, end date, and duration of activity. So, using this chart you can immediately view,

  • The different activities
  • When the activities begin or end
  • Period associated with each activity
  • Overlap between activities and the degree
  • Beginning or end date for whole project

Effective project management is a complex process involving loads of various activities. For successful completion, you need to control all these activities and make sure that these follow the specified schedule. Missing deadlines or deviating from schedules or task completion has a negative effect on the remaining project. So not only are you going to achieve late delivery but also increase the project expenses as a result. Resultantly, Gantt Charts prove to be quite useful as you can view the requirements at a glance and know the completion schedule for each activity. Visual communication is achieved via this chart as they outline involved tasks along with their order against timescale. So you get an instant overview of project, associated tasks, and its schedule.

Conclusion

The main use of these charts is in scheduling and planning different projects. By using them, you can accurately assess how long will it take you to complete this project, determine requirements related to resources and plan your task completion priority. This way, you can also manage dependencies in between different tasks. These charts are quite useful when monitoring the progress of the project once it is underway. Immediately determine how much you should have achieved by a specific date and in case you are lagging, it becomes possible for you to take the necessary actions and bring it on course again. To summarize, the function of this chart is to show you the activities/work to do against the schedule.

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