The basics of a Simple Gantt Chart and the Right Tool to use
Simple gantt charts are visual bar charts that give people a complete idea about the status of the project. A well-executed Gantt chart includes tasks that need to be completed and incorporates that with time.
What Simple Gantt Charts Are
Gantt charts are tools that project managers use to communicate what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. When things get off track, a simple Gantt chart can be utilized to bring the entire project back on track and get it going to where it needs to be.
Simple and Smart
Simple gantt charts do not overutilize texts. Instead, they create visual representations. A completed Gantt chart has the ability to quickly and effectively communicate:
- All the tasks in a given project.
- When a task is set to begin and when it ends.
- When the entire project begins and when it ends.
- How long a task is supposed to last.
- Task relationships – how tasks overlap and which tasks can’t begin until the tasks are completed.
When you read a simple Gantt chart, you’ll see a list of tasks listed on the left-hand side. Across the top, you’ll see dates, much like in a calendar. When you put your finger on a task, you can drag your finger across the chart and instantly see the start date, the end date, and its relationship with other tasks in relation to time – without using any text at all. Instead, it uses a colored bar. The bar begins at the start date and ends on the end date. If one task ends two days after another task is set to begin, you will see an instant overlap of two days.
Utilizing this chart successfully communicates the overview of the project without presenting large chunks of text. People who read the Gantt chart can get a thorough understanding of the project, its tasks, and their relationships without reading any text at all.
It keeps people organized. Instead of having several pages of text trying to explain the project, you have one or two pages with all the information you need at your fingertips.
It is true that larger projects may cause a simple Gantt chart to span several pages – not just one or two. In these cases, it’s better to use a Gantt chart tool rather than drawing a chart by hand.
The creation of a simple Gantt chart begins with task identification. Another project management tool is called the Work Breakdown Structure. By creating a WBS chart first, all your tasks identified giving you the necessary information to create a Gantt chart from the previous chart.
The most important factor that WBS charts do not take into account is time. On the other hand, simple Gantt charts do consider time in its creation. You can instantly and instinctively tell exactly when any given task for the entire project is planned to begin and end – even if you have hundreds of tasks in any given project.
On any given date during the project, you can refer to your simple Gantt chart and instantly know where in the project you’re supposed to be. You can look back and immediately discover which tasks are expected to be completed, which tasks are expected to be in the middle of completion, and which tasks have yet to begin.
Although it won’t tell you exactly how the project will go, it will tell you how it is supposed to go. If a project is off track, project managers can use a Gantt chart tool to steer the project in the right direction. Furthermore, by referencing the simple Gantt chart frequently, project managers can prevent projects from getting off track in the first place.
Simple Gantt Charts have to be… Simple!
If a simple Gantt chart is not thoroughly explained to someone, it can be difficult to understand. Furthermore, it can be even harder to create a chart without this knowledge. It is this creation process that some people are afraid of. They appear to be confusing, complicated and have the potential to waste time. However, by not creating a simple Gantt chart, a project can get seriously off task. More time, energy and efforts are spent trying to get the project to stay on task without using a Gantt chart tool to draw the chart.
The Advantages of a Simple Gantt Chart Tool
Ever since the 1980s, people have been using computers to create simple Gantt charts. Any Gantt chart a project manager sees today will not have been drawn by hand – a computer tool will have been used to create it.
This gives people the ability to create massive projects and keep people on task. As projects grew larger, so did the Gantt charts – often spanning several pages.
The very nature of a project means that it will continually change. When a project changes, the chart may change with it. The advantage of using a computer Gantt chart tool instead of drawing a chart by hand is that you can incorporate new changes as they occur without wasting precious resources, such as paper and the time it takes for someone to take a printed chart and deliver it to someone else.
The online world has changed that. PlanHammer’s project management tool enables the simple Gantt chart to remain online, where several people can be logged in at the same time, viewing the exact same chart, and collaborating every change together in real time. Things get done much faster when instant communication is achieved.
How to Use our Gantt Chart Tool to Craft your Simple Gantt Chart
By now, you’re probably wondering how you can create your very own chart. As stated earlier, the first task at hand is to sit down with your teamates and identify the tasks.
Put the Tasks Together
Larger projects that have hundreds of tasks performed by several teams of people may take several collaboration meetings to identify all of the tasks. It might be easier to create a work breakdown structure – a WBS chart – before you create the simple Gantt chart, as it will assist in identifying the tasks.
Once you’ve identified all of the tasks in your entire project, it is time to determine the task relationships.
Detect Task Relationships
In any given project, it becomes evident that some tasks cannot begin until other tasks end.
Take this example. If one of the tasks in your project is to paint a wall, for instance, and there is no wall to paint, then it becomes necessary for the tasks that involve the wall to be built to be completed before any tasks begin that require the wall to be painted.
When two related tasks overlap, it can simply mean that one phase of the project is being prepared for the other one to end.
Take Full Advantage of your Gantt Chart Tool
Because projects change so much, PlanHammer’s Gantt chart tool has become not just in a luxury, but a necessity. The funding of any project often depends on convincing the funders that a project can be successful.
The inclusion of computerized Gantt chart tools are necessary to save time, money and effort in the completion of the project.
These tools do much more than enable managers to get a project back on track. These tools are also effective in preventing a project from getting off track to begin with.
With the advent of the Internet, the Gantt chart tool is no longer localized on someone’s computer or on a central server. With software such as PlanHammer, everyone who needs access to the simple Gantt chart can be granted access. All they need to do is take their credentials and log in.
Keep the Chart Progress Updated
Finally, update your chart progress often. A simple Gantt chart is a tool. It will not run a project in lieu of the responsibilities of a project manager. To best make use of tools such as a simple Gantt chart, it is imperative that your chart gets frequently updated – sometimes, several times a day. This not only keeps communication high and keeps people informed, but it gives the project managers a good grip on the project – before anything adverse happens.
Hope that these simple tips help you with managing your project’s timelines, and we would love to have you take a look at our online gantt chart creator.