Just imagine how difficult it is to juggle numerous balls at once. You miss a ball and the entire act is gone for a toss. Project management is quite similar to juggling where you are constantly ‘juggling’ between multiple tasks, people, projects and what not. The moment you miss a deadline, the entire planning can go haywire and have serious repercussions.
This is why it’s helpful to have a visual overview of a project schedule and know when is each activity completing and who is working on it. And, this is where Gantt chart software come into the picture.
Not just project managers, in fact, people from all walks of life are now using them to plan, organize, and deliver. If you always wanted to learn what Gantt charts are and how you can be benefited from them, you’ve come to the right place. Before jumping straightaway to its benefits, let’s first understand what they really are:
Table of Contents
- What is a Gantt chart?
- Why is Gantt chart useful?
- History and evolution of Gantt charts
- Top 11 benefits that Gantt charts offer:
- 1. Know what’s going on in your projects
- 2. Improved communication and team cohesion
- 3. Avoid resource overload
- 4. Measure the progress of projects
- 5. See overlapping activities and task dependencies
- 6. Experience more clarity
- 7. Practice better time management
- 8. Work with remote team members and motivate them
- 9. Create a sense of accountability
- 10. Boost flexibility
- 11. Promotes transparency
- Application of Gantt charts
- Gantt chart software – How to make the right choice?
What is a Gantt chart?
According to Wikipedia, “A Gantt chart is a type of bar chart that illustrates a project schedule and shows the dependency relationships between activities and current schedule status.”
In simpler words, Gantt charts are a visual view of tasks displayed against time. They represent critical information such as who is assigned to what, duration of tasks, and overlapping activities in a project. All in all, Gantt charts are the perfect allies for planning, scheduling, and managing a project.
Why is Gantt chart useful?
Gantt charts are useful because they are simple to create, use and keep track of. A Gantt Chart, in its simplest form, is a timeline that illustrates how the project will progress during the project management process.
This timeline is proven quite useful for planning and scheduling projects. It helps project managers and project teams to assess how long a project should take, determine the resources needed, understand the dependencies between tasks, and plan the order in which each task will be completed if the whole project is to deliver on time.
As the project moves forward, a Gantt chart adjusts simultaneously, displaying an up-to-date project schedule to keep everyone (teams, clients, and stakeholders) informed of the progress. In addition to this, gantt charts replace meetings and enhance other status updates. They make it easy for teams to understand task progress and talk about the problems they may encounter.
In all, using a Gantt chart or a Gantt chart tool is useful during project management because it allows you to picture your project against the time frame it needs to be done in. It brings timelines, tasks, milestones and all the other crucial project details in one place so that you and keep your project moving.
History and evolution of Gantt charts
Gantt charts have an interesting history that needs to be shared. The origin of the tool dates back to the late 1800s when a Polish engineer Karol Adamiecki invented a diagram called harmonograph. The major reason behind inventing this diagram was to improve the way production schedules were displayed during that point of time. The only problem was that all findings and other critical information were published in Polish and Russian only.
Meanwhile, Henry Laurence Gantt, a management consultant and an engineer, was also working on the similar concept around 1910. He designed a chart to help manufacturing managers to easily visualize their work schedule. With time, it underwent some changes and evolved into Gantt charts. Therefore Henry Gantt is considered the inventor of Gantt Chart (hence the name).
Since we have revisited what Gantt charts are and how they got popularized, it’s time that we discuss how online Gantt charts make project management better.
Top 11 benefits that Gantt charts offer:
1. Know what’s going on in your projects
The biggest advantage of using free online Gantt charts in project management is that you get to see everything related to project at a single place. It acts as a great visualization and prioritization tool as it provides the total overview of the project and tells you about the critical information such as members involved in each step, the order of tasks, duration, start-to-end dates, task dependencies and progress made in them. Hence, online Gantt charts software are helpful in equipping project managers with the information they need to oversee while managing projects.
2. Improved communication and team cohesion
Communication is an integral part of a project that can make or break it. In fact, 86% of employees feel lack of communication as the biggest reason for workplace failures. On the other hand, Gantt charts are known to provide crystal clear communication. Project managers can use these charts to know who is working on what and give inputs on certain tasks and pass relevant information to them. This helps him to communicate better with team members and also improves their relationship as a team. Most importantly, it eliminates the need for having a separate tool for tracking and communication purposes.
3. Avoid resource overload
Too many problems arise when resources are stretched over too many tasks and processes. Gantt charts allow you to use your resources effectively as you get to see a project’s timeline where you can easily see how and where resources are being utilized. Within Gantt charts, you can also delegate tasks and align resources without burdening them with too much work. This way you can effectively manage resources and when resources are properly managed, projects are more likely to be completed within budget and deadlines.
4. Measure the progress of projects
Once you schedule your project in a Gantt chart software you can check the progress of the projects in it. The feature to measure a project’s progress enables you to make changes in your strategy if it is lagging behind its schedule. As project members can update the completed percent of each task, everyone stays on the same page. This information is quite useful to determine if the project is headed in the right direction or not.
5. See overlapping activities and task dependencies
At times, you cannot start a certain task unless another task which is dependent on the former is completed. Such task dependencies can make things difficult to be managed especially in case of complex projects that have too many tasks. As you get to see an overview of projects in a Gantt chart software, you can easily see which tasks are dependent on each other and schedule them in a way that they don’t impact the overall progress in any way and team members share equal responsibility.
6. Experience more clarity
It’s not a good feeling when you get stuck in a project and you don’t know where things are going. Although it’s quite common to get stuck while working on a project, however, Gantt charts let you see things with a lot more clarity with just a click. As you can instantly see the progress of tasks, it helps you and others working on a project to develop a better understanding of how things are unfolding. More clarity means better understanding which further leads to successful completion of a project.
7. Practice better time management
Many project managers pitch scheduling as one of the biggest benefits of Gantt charts in project management. As time plays an important role in the life of a project, therefore a Gantt chart software helps project members to understand the severity of time delays while managing projects. It’s easy to get carried away and work mindlessly on tasks but when you have a unified view of the overall progress, you can easily allocate time to each and every task and do what really needs to be done.
8. Work with remote team members and motivate them
According to a recent study, almost 75% of American employees would prefer to quit their jobs and change it for a remote position. Remote work is quite popular these days. It’s one of the trends that are expected to dominate the world of project management in the coming years. However, working with a remote team has its own challenges. When you manage a project with a remote team, you have way more difficulties coordinating and keeping everyone in the loop. A Gantt chart, being an effective solution for modern teams, makes it easier for everyone to stay on the same page while working together. Gantt chart is certainly one of the best ways to work with remote teams and keep them motivated. It allows you to visualize what’s already done, what’s in progress, and what lies ahead, keeping everyone shoulder to shoulder during the project development regardless of the country or time zone they’re in
9. Create a sense of accountability
Using Gantt charts during project management allows both project managers and teams to track team progress, highlighting big wins (like a task completed on time and a milestone achieved ahead of the schedule), as well as major failures. This functionality of the Gantt chart helps to create a sense of accountability in the workplace. It gives both managers and team members a fair opportunity to leverage this solution to highlight how frequently they exceed expectations and get recognition in the workplace.
10. Boost flexibility
Change is a crucial part of the project management process. Even if your project plan appears to be foolproof, you and your team need to be prepared for the possibility that you might have to adjust your expectations as per the changing situations. Having a user-friendly Gantt chart tool can help you relieve yourself from potential headaches in such conditions. You can use a Gantt chart to help your team keep moving towards reaching the desired goal and milestones, while still being flexible in how to get there.
11. Promotes transparency
Transparency in the workplace promotes trust and teamwork amongst your team. Being aware of each other’s responsibilities in a project is an important part of that process. A Gantt chart certainly helpful in this case. It shows the details of each team member’s tasks and milestones in one place so that everyone is aware of each other’s workload and help those who may be struggling to fulfill their own work. This kind of transparency in the work process further boosts teamwork, honesty, and humility within the team.
Application of Gantt charts
The sheer simplicity and ease-of-access of all relevant information make Gantt charts an ideal choice for teams to use them for organizing their schedules. Due to this, Gantt charts are widely used in project management, IT and development teams. Apart from them, marketing, engineering, product launch, manufacturing teams can also use Gantt charts to get an overview of how things are rolling on the work front.
Gantt chart software – How to make the right choice?
With so many tools claiming to be the ‘right Gantt chart software’, it can be hard to make the final choice. Before you select a tool in haste, make sure it allows you to do the following things:
- Share project information with others
- Collaborate in real-time
- Easy drag-and-drop for efficient scheduling
- Import, export, and integrable with third-party applications
Also, ask yourself some important questions before you actually start using a Gantt chart software for your projects. Here are a few questions that might help you get started on the right foot.
- Why exactly do you need a Gantt chart? (to plan resources or to manage projects)
- Do you deal with several projects at once?
- How many of your tasks are recurrent?
- Do you need to collaborate with others?
Finding answers to these questions will help you get a better idea of what problems you want your gantt chart tool to solve, thereby making it easier for you to spot the right tool among all the available options.
Since you’ve read quite a lot about Gantt charts, you must have realized its importance by now. If you still have some apprehensions, then ProofHub seems like a great starting point. ProofHub Gantt chart software helps you create project schedules, track progress made in tasks, set task dependencies, and manage resources effectively. Apart from these stellar features, it combines other project management functionalities as well.
Now that you know the benefits of Gantt charts, what’s stopping you from using them?