A Gantt chart is a type of bar chart that illustrates a project schedule and shows the dependency between tasks and the current schedule status. It is a visual view of tasks scheduled over time. The chart is commonly seen in project management and is used to adhere to project schedules. The Gantt chart was named after the inventor Henry Gantt, who designed the chart between the years 1910 and 1915. The chart encompasses:
- The start date of the project
- The project tasks
- The project task owner
- When tasks are started and finished
- How long the task will take to complete
- How tasks relate to one another
- The end date of the project
Advantages of Gantt charts
Advantages of a Gantt chart include:
- Being able to manage a project visually, as a project may seem less complex if the timeline is easily visualized.
- Dividing a large project into smaller parts, making it easier to divide and conquer the project task by task.
- Setting realistic goals and timeframes as the project is put into perspective with the bars on the chart indicating when a task should be completed.
- Having the chart visible to all working on the project, which allows everyone to be on the same page with the flow of the project and deadlines.
Disadvantages of Gantt charts
Disadvantages of a Gantt chart includes:
- Becoming overwhelmed by the depth and/or complexity of the project because it is presented all at once.
- Misrepresenting task complexity, as the size of a bar does not indicate the amount of work required. Instead, each bar indicates the time period over which a particular set of tasks will be completed. This means a Gantt chart does not show how difficult or what level of resources are required to complete the task.
- Requiring constant updating. As a project progresses, tasks and deadlines change. If the chart is not updated with the changes, it becomes obsolete.
Gantt Chart software
Gantt charts were originally created on paper. Later on, magnetic building blocks and Legos were used to create a three-dimensional visual. Now, Gantt charts are mostly created by using Microsoft Excel or a project management tool with a Gantt chart feature. The following project management software products include Gantt chart capabilities:
- Smartsheet has interactive Gantt charts that provide a simple approach to visualizing projects. With drag-and-drop editing, users can instantly change dates and create task dependencies.
- Mavenlink provides team access to real-time visibility to navigate task dependencies, identify current roadblocks, and get the information needed to deliver projects predictably and profitably.
- Wrike has a timeline (Gantt-Chart) feature that lets users view the project schedule and set dependencies in real time with easy adjustments to keep the project on track.
- AceProject allows users to visually track project and task progress, view deadlines, and set task dependencies using interactive Gantt charts.