Gantt Chart Example and Creation Steps
Project management is a practice of planning, scheduling, executing, controlling, reporting and closing the project successfully. Most of the projects are designed to create a unique product or service in a restricted time period. Considering the distinctive nature of projects, planning and scheduling becomes critical for a project’s success. There are many tools, techniques, charts and diagrams have been used for scheduling since before now. Presumably, Gantt Charts are the most common tools used for this purpose. In this article we will discuss the topic “Gantt Chart” and analyze a Gantt Chart Example.
Importance of Using a Gantt Chart
Project managers primary mission is to carry their projects to a successful completion. Planning and tracking thousands of activities within a project is a challenging task for a project manager. Without using a scheduling tool nobody can control a large number of activities. Scheduling tools are used for a project’s successful completion by tracking the project activities, milestones, resources and costs. Theses tools provide a general view of the project scope on a single chart.
Gantt charts provide this project information visually. They demonstrate all the activities involved in a project and their dates. Advanced versions of Gantt Charts involve activity dependencies, resources and costs.
Origins of the Gantt Chart
Charts and diagrams have been used by professionals for centuries. A Polish engineer “Karol Adamiecki” devised the Gantt Chart in 1896 and named it “The Harmonogram”. An American project management consultant Henry Gantt created his own version 15 years after Karol Adamiecki. Gantt Charts were widely used during the World War I. Walter Polakov a Russian Engineer introduced this chart to the Soviet Union in 1929 and used it for the development of the First Five Year Plan of the Soviet Union.
After the evolution of personel computers, desktop applications are created for Gantt Charts. Today professionals from various industries use this powerful tool for project management and control. Softwares like Primavera P6 and Microsoft Project involve advanced versions of Gantt Charts.
Sections of a Gantt Chart
Gantt Charts are efficient tools to create a project schedule. Tasks, milestones and deliverables are demonstrated as bars. Basically a Gantt Chart has 3 sections. The section on the left demonstrates the list of the tasks. The section on the right demonstrates the bars and the timescale falls into the above.
A bar represents an activity. Beginning of the bar shows the start date and the end of the bar shows the finish date. Bar lengths are proportional to the activity durations.
How to Create a Gantt Chart
Before to create a Gantt Chart, the project team must think through all of the activities required to complete the project. In this process all the team members work on each task duration, start and finish dates and resources required to perform it. This decision making process is helpful to analyze if the schedule is workable and are the resource amounts enough. Also this thinking process helps to decide the responsibilities and analyze the potential risks before to encounter.
Creating a Gantt Chart gives an opportunity to make detailed analysis such as identifying the critical path, deciding minimum duration and resource quantitiy for an activity. Additionally you can analyze the task logic and decide which task will start before the others finish.
Finally you can use the Gantt Chart as a communication tool among stakeholders. You can inform project sponsor by updating and reporting the chart regularly.
Below steps can be tracked while creating a Gantt Chart
1. Review the project documents, plans and scope statement
Project plan and scope of work provide information about the project’s main deliverables, major milestones and contract completion date.
2. Specify project calendar and mark the working and non working days
Defining the project calender is an important step of creating a Gantt Chart. Number of working days in a year changes depending on the location of the project. For example working days for a project located in desert is different than working days for a project located in rainy zones.
3. Create the WBS
4. List the tasks, calculate task durations and specify start and finish dates
List all the tasks and estimate the duration of each task. Decide the task pedendencies and predecessor and successor activities at this step.
5. Set constraints on the tasks if necessary
The degree of flexibility of a Gantt Chart depends on the constrainst added to the schedule. Constraints are the restrictions to be defined for an activity. For example if an activity must start at an indispensable date you should use a mandatory start constraint.
Gantt Chart Example
Assume that you are working as a scheduler in a building project and the project manager asked you to create the project schedule by using Gantt Chart. You followed the steps mentioned in the previous section then created the work schedule as shown below.
As shown in the figure above, all the activities are listed under certain WBS levels on the left. The timescale above shows the total project duration divided by weeks. Activitiy bars can be shown on the right side. Duration of each activity is represented by cells.
Gantt Charts are effective tools scheduling. It is useful for small and medium sized projects but when the project size gets larger, it will be difficult to use it without softwares.
In this article we discuss the Gantt Charts by analyzing a simple Gantt Chart Example. We hope that it will be useful for professionals working in the field of project management.