Gantt charts appeared back in the XIXth century, were drawn on paper, and used to measure the employees’ performance, to know who of them were underperforming, or vice versa, overperforming. The fact that it has been used for more than 100 years already speaks volumes about the effectiveness of the tool. With the current speedy development of the IT sphere, charts have moved to digital space, acquired new features, but remained faithful to the initial idea of performance tracking. Let’s focus on the reasons why this truly old-school solution is still relevant in the project management domain.
In a nutshell, a Gantt chart usually shows a list of tasks or team members on the left, a timeline with days, weeks, months, etc. at the top, and colored horizontal bars in the center. Those bars indicate the planned duration of tasks and activities. The color may be different depending on the progress. Arrows that connect bars show the tasks’ dependencies. There can also be a feature of indicating milestones, i.e. the most important stages of the project. Besides, in some solutions team members can leave comments or add files to the chart. Various other possibilities can also be provided.
Thus, a Gantt chart allows a team to:
- track the progress of the project
- see the start and end of each next task and understand how they are related
- assign tasks to team members
- feel motivated and eager to contribute to a common process
- manage time
How will a Gantt chart make the life of a team easier?
Using a Gantt chart at the initial stage of the project work is a great visual aid. As a manager, you can discuss the stages of the project with your team. Altogether you will make a plan, define the milestones, set the priorities, and adjust the activities to the timeline. The biggest benefit of that process is that you can immediately see the results of planning on the chart. It is easier to perceive than just a bullet list.
Clear understanding of the project duration.
This point is logically connected with the previous one. Having a Gantt chart in front of you, allows you to have a better notion of time. The developers and team members see the deadlines, milestones, they can adequately assess how much progress is already achieved and what is supposed to be done next. Evaluating self results motivates the team and contributes to the general satisfaction with the work performed.
If all the stakeholders see the same image, there are fewer chances of misunderstanding. This is especially important for complex projects when a lot of people are working closely and cooperating with their activities. Mutual understanding of the goals and results leads to further success.
Effective allocation of resources.
Gantt charts provide deep information on the allocation of resources. All the team members can see where the resources have to be accumulated, fostered, or shared to gain better results. Besides, following the planned strategy of the Gantt chart ensures meeting the deadlines and keeping the anticipated project costs within budget.
Following tasks dependencies.
Gantt charts show how the tasks of the project are related to each other. It allows the team to understand what the next step is going to be, which task is dependent on the results of their work, and how the completion of every particular activity affects the general progress on the project.
Splitting the tasks if necessary.
With a Gantt chart, you can easily break the project into several stages. If it is an Agile project, you split it into several sprints and analyze each sprint separately. You can allocate resources for this sprint, set the milestones, and see how this sprint will affect the next ones, reflect on the dependencies between the sprints.
Indication of the critical path.
The critical path includes tasks that cannot be postponed. These are usually the most important steps of the project. If the deadlines shift, the Gantt chart will show how this shift affects the critical path and what measures should be taken immediately not to lose the track of the project.
The bars of the chart show the current progress. If the solution you are using has this feature, the bars will be of different colors depending on the progress. This visual support provides team members with instant information on the tasks being performed, completed ones, and those on the waiting list. Thus, any changes in the deadlines will be visible on the chart and will allow the team to quickly react and adapt accordingly.
Better project management.
This is a general benefit of any Gantt chart solution. Looking at the Gantt chart, a project manager evaluates the progress, sees the gaps in the process, and can react to any challenges. Thus, Gantt charts protect the project from the domino effect, when one mistake leads to a general crash of the plan.
Foreseeing the future.
Each project that is managed with the help of a Gantt chart solution can show the possibility of achieving the long-term strategic goals of the company. Using such charts makes it easier for the company to scale and to predict further market opportunities for their product.
What are the Gantt Charts worth taking into consideration?
The solutions that provide all the required features and can serve the requirements of both small and large teams are the following:
Gantt charts haven’t lost their popularity, as they successfully serve their purposes. Gantt charts are easy to implement and they are truly a priceless tool in the process of effective project management.