Gantt charts for projects are the essential weapon of the Project Manager, but they can be extremely useful and effective even for anyone who wants to organize their activities in a structured way.
This planning tool appeared in the early twentieth century and has since been widely used for project planning.
The main reason for the success of the Gantt charts is their simplicity and the focus on the quick visualization of the activities.
Gantt charts are also an excellent way to plan the project in a temporal way, allowing to define roles, responsibilities and effective use of resources.
In fact, they provide an immediate vision of how the project is developed and structured and act as a guideline to the end.
What is a Gantt chart?
The Gantt chart, also called scheduled bar chart, is a tool used to plan a set of activities that, generally, are part of a single, more complex project.
On the horizontal axis there is the time span, whose unit of measurement depends on the project calendar – days, weeks, months, etc. – while on the vertical axis we find the list of the various activities.
Each task is represented by a colored bar that goes from the start date to the end of the activity.
Once all the activities have been inserted, there is a visual scheme of how the project is structured, which tasks come first, which ones overlap and which ones happen later.
The resources that carry out every single activity are easily identifiable.
With such a graphic structure, it is easy to understand, at first glance, if the processes are taking place on schedule and if the progress of the project is in line with the deadline.
Many software have, in the Gantt, their sore point because the Gantt is not very effective or even non-existent.
Only some software, including TWProject, allow not only to obtain a Gantt chart of the project that is easy to read, but also to get even more details, indicating for example:
- who is the resource assigned to a given activity;
- if the resource works full-time or part-time;
- how much work has been done and remains to be done;
- the cost associated with each activity.
What are the advantages of the Gantt chart?
As a company we are convinced that the Gantt chart, if well structured and managed, can bring various benefits to the management of a project.
Here is a list of advantages that this system inevitably presents.
The Advantages of Gantt: Visualization
The Gantt chart allows to clearly visualize the workflow and the project structure.
When we insert the various tasks, or analyze the schema after inserting them, we can immediately realize any inconsistencies.
The linear scheme allows you to understand in advance if you will be faced with potential organizational or technical problems and allows you to prepare in advance.
The distribution of the activities allows to identify the intermediate goals and to understand if the project is in line with the schedule or not.
The Advantages of Gantt: Flexibility
As already mentioned, an advantage of the Gantt chart is to clearly show the start and end date of a given activity.
The timing of each task will be set after a direct comparison with the managers of each sector, in order to have a realistic value.
For this reason, the Gantt chart is also useful for the feasibility analysis of a project.
Once the entire project structure is set up, it makes no sense to run to complete certain steps before the set date – unless there is really a valid reason – as this may be reflected in the lack of completeness and / or accuracy.
If you have agreed on a certain date speaking to the direct responsible, it means that this is the time necessary to carry out the work correctly and completely.
Forcing time would affect the quality of work.
The Advantages of Gantt: Efficiency
These charts allow an intelligent and effective use of resources.
It becomes really difficult for the resources to be reliable when they are grappling with too many processes and find themselves submerged.
All conflicts and problems that follow an overload of tasks can lead to a definitive blockage of the whole project and, inevitably, to its failure.
Using Gantt charts as a project planning tool gives you an overview of the project timeline so you can easily see where and when a particular resource is used.
So, it is possible to allocate resources in such a way that the activies are not slowed down or blocked.
Once a process is finished, you can transfer the resource to another activity.
The Advantages of Gantt: Motivation
Gantt charts are great for morale!
Probably we all had those days where we felt completely lost and submerged from work and projects and we could no longer see the direction in which we were going.
In this case, the Gantt chart can be a valid psychological aid.
Looking at the diagram, in fact, you can immediately see how activities are taking place and how each process leads to the completion of the entire project.
It is a very effective method to raise morale and motivate the team.
Moreover, seeing the achievement of a goal – however small it may be – is still a gratification. It allows to concentrate, step by step, on the different blocks of activity without feeling disoriented by a project that can be long and complex.
The Advantages of Gantt: Communication
Gantt charts are not just a useful tool for planning the project.
Team members can use these diagrams to see where they are in the project, what they need to complete certain tasks and the inputs they need.
The project diagram shows them exactly who they should contact and who they should collaborate with during each phase.
This makes them able to communicate better not only with each other, but also with the Project Manager.
The aspects (disadvantages) of the Gantt chart to keep under control!
As with any high performance tool, even for the Gantt Chart, there are some aspects to monitor.
Aspects that if not properly managed could result in real disadvantages.
Let’s list briefly the aspects to pay attention to, so that everyone can make his evaluations:
- It can become extraordinarily complex. Except for the simplest projects, a Gantt chart will present a large number of activities and resources used to complete the project. There are special software that can handle all this complexity. However, when the project reaches this level, it must be managed by a small number of people, or often by one, able to handle all the details. Large companies often employ one or more prepared Project Managers. In companies not used to this type of management, this may not work as it should.
- The size of the bar does not indicate the amount of work. Each bar on the graph indicates the period of time in which a given activity will be completed. However, by observing the bar, it is not possible to determine what level of resources is needed to complete these tasks. For example, a short bar could take 500 hours, while a longer bar could take only 20 hours.
- The length of a bar in fact indicates the timing of a given activity and not its complexity in terms of working hours.
- It must be constantly updated. After starting the project, things can change. If you use a Gantt chart, you need to be able to change the chart easily and frequently.
- Difficult to see on a single sheet of paper. The software that allows you to manage these graphics are mostly suited to a computer screen and are not meant to be printed. It therefore becomes difficult to show the details of the plan to a broad audience. It is certainly possible to print the chart, but this normally involves a job of “cutting and pasting” of the individual pieces, rather expensive in terms of time.
All in all, the biggest advantage of the Gantt chart is the pure simplicity and the clear overview of the activities and their duration.
This makes it ideal for projects where facilitated access to all relevant information is required and where these should be easily understood by all those involved in the project.
This is why we thought of an evolution of the TWProject Gantt.
In fact, we have built an instrument capable of modeling situations in real time and that can easily be modified over time.
This is in contrast to the traditional project management methodology where the projects are immediately defined in detail (unrealistic method for most of the working situations).
Twproject’s focus is to capture the work done in real time, to guide the Project Manager during the entire project development.
Our customers’ experience in this direction encourages us by providing us with guidance in future development.
What is the greatest benefit you find in the company, thanks to the use of Gantt?
Tell us about it!