Gantt Charts

13.06.2017 |

Episode #10 of the course Introduction to Project Management by John M. Smith


Welcome to the tenth and final lesson of the course. You’ve made it! Today, we will learning about the most popular way to build and manage a schedule: Gantt Charts.


A Gantt Chart is a visual scheduling tool and the primary tool Project Managers use to build, manage, and communicate their schedule. The Gantt Chart, created by Henry Gantt in the early 1910s, is so fundamental to Project Management, most Project Management software are primarily Gantt Chart programs. In addition to showing activities and their durations, a Gantt Chart also illustrates their relationships. Relationships are important for two fundamental reasons:

1. They indicate dependencies that affect when tasks can be completed, such as tasks that cannot start until others are finished or ones that need to be started at the same time. This identifies bottlenecks and resource shortages.

2. They make management of the schedule easier through push-pull automated updates and changes.

Like the Work Breakdown Structure, the Gantt Chart displays important information available at a glance, like location, customer, specification section, and who is responsible for tasks. Unlike the WBS, it is constructed in a linear fashion, rather than top-down. Tasks are listed in order based on their schedules, and important events are marked as milestones. In business, the milestones often indicate points at which invoices and payments are processed, when outside input is required (like a customer inspection hold point), and when deliverables are completed.


Building a Gantt Chart

The Gantt Chart simplifies the process of scheduling, managing, communicating, updating, and identifying potential problems with the schedule.There are a variety of ways to construct one, based on the complexity of the project. No matter how complex the information is, however, a Gantt Chart should be easy to understand and communicate to others and must be kept updated.

Deviations from the original schedule are tracked to help the Project Manager predict problems or other changes that can affect future work. This doesn’t only mean negative deviations. Changes like early task completion can affect the ability to utilize resources. Keeping track of these changes can result in a change in priorities, like moving one task in front of another to better balance resources.

Here is a sample of a Gantt Chart, again using our bathroom ventilation project:

Click the image to enlarge

The above is a simple example. A complex project will have a complex schedule and can be put together to show the most relevant or important data. The important thing is making sure all tasks are on the schedule, team members know what they’re responsible for, and resources can be utilized as needed. The Gantt Chart below is from an actual project and illustrates this type of complexity.

Click the image to enlarge

The project’s schedule is typically the most important tool to ensuring project success, particularly in a production business environment. Using a Gantt Chart will help you better visualize, communicate, and manage your schedule, and thereby, your project.


Moving Forward

Project Management is a discipline that is being utilized increasingly across a number of industries. It is used widely in construction, engineering, and software development. It is beneficial in the development and manufacturing of products of all kinds. It is also used in industries like marketing, law, medicine, biotechnology, and even the military.

In additional to its professional applications, applying Project Management to your own personal projects can help you stay organized, get things done, and control costs. What I have just shared with you over these past 10 lessons are the most basic methods to make Project Management work for you. There are an abundance of tools and strategies that I have personally found very helpful, and I hope to bring you a more in-depth look at those in the future. In the meantime, try taking what you’ve learned here and applying it to your next project. You may be surprised at what you can achieve!


Recommended reading

How to Create a Gantt Chart in Excel


Recommended books

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge by Project Management Institute

A Project Manager’s Book of Forms: A Companion to the PMBOK Guide by Project Management Institute


Share with friends