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If you’re involved in managing projects or have managed projects before, I’m sure you have come across Gantt charts before. A Gantt chart is a bar chart that gives you a graphical representation of all the activities that you need to complete in the project against the total duration of the project.
This chart was created in 1918 by Henry L. Gantt. He noticed how in a project, it’s crucial to see as an overview, the activities that you need to complete, the time it takes to complete those activities, and the total time of the project. He wanted to create something where at any given point in time, he can see very clearly if the project work was on track. And so, he invented the Gantt chart.
The Chart Analysis
The X-axis of the Gantt chart shows the total duration of the project and the Y-axis shows the activities that need to be completed within the duration.
Bars are placed for each of the activities to show the start time and the end time of each activity.
The bars for the activities are usually put in different colors to differentiate easily. There can be sub-tasks under the main tasks. In this case, all subtasks will also fall under the same color to identify that they are part of the main task.
Advantages of Gantt Charts
1. It is extremely easy to construct. Once you have the tasks and the time plan, you can generate one from anywhere.
2. It helps you to keep your thoughts organized. Sometimes when you get involved in a project, it can get really difficult to keep in mind all the different tasks that need to be completed. Seeing the entire project plan visually allows you to keep your activities and plans organized and that will, in turn, create a very good task flow.
3. The realistic time frame for the activities can give you a good idea of the earliest possible completion date of the project. This way, you can easily allow yourself and the rest of your teammates (or even investors, if you’re doing a large-scale project) to get a good idea of when you can expect it to be completed.
4. It demonstrates to everyone that you know exactly what you’re doing. Having a plan with the time frame on a single document shows everyone that you have a very good understanding of how the project will be run. It will boost the confidence that the rest of the team members have in you.
Disadvantages of Gantt Charts
1. The length of the bar in the Gantt chart does not give you a good indication of how much work is involved in that specific task. For instance, a task like ‘clean the house’ which requires a lot of work but can be completed in a single day will be shorter than another task like ‘get approval’ which needs very little work but still require three days.
2. Gantt charts need to be constantly updated. There are many reasons why a project might not be able to go exactly according to plan. External factors that are not within our control might affect the progress of our project. It is very normal for this to happen. Therefore, the Gantt chart will need to be updated either daily or once every few days. It’s to make sure that it reflects the actual progress of the project.
3. It is difficult to see it on a single sheet of paper. Gantt charts, unless your project is an extremely small one, will have a lot of tasks before it reaches completion. So, they’re usually a few pages long. Due to this reason, we are usually not able to see the entire project schedule in a single paper as a Gantt chart. The only way this is possible (if it’s a large project) is if you only include the main tasks in the Gantt charts and exclude all the sub-tasks. That might defeat the purpose though.
Gantt charts are an extremely good visual aid to track the progress of the activities in the project. The completed portion of the project is normally shaded to signify that it has been finished. You can easily get an understanding of if the project is going according to schedule.
If you’re a team leader or a project manager, you can easily communicate and delegate work to your project teams. Know exactly what they have to do. Gantt charts can easily help you to follow up on the progress that has been made with your team members. You can also discuss the work that is still incomplete and compare it against the initial schedule.
I personally use Gantt charts mostly at the beginning of projects. It helps me to get a good idea of the project flow and the different tasks that need to be completed within the planned time frame. Like every other tool or resource available for you to do your projects, Gantt charts have their pros and cons. We should use them according to our needs and aim to achieve better project results.
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