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Gantt Chart Tool Tutorial: The Ultimate Guide

Last updated on 24th Aug 2022, Blog, Tutorials

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Rukmani Atri (Business Development Manager )

Rukmani Atri is the SR Manager of Business Development with 8+ years of experience. He has expertise in ABC analysis, SPI, Factory Overhead, R&D Capex, sunk cost, economic order quantity (EOQ), and EAC.

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A Gantt chart is a stacked bar chart that is used to show a timeline of events and the associated tasks, milestones, or activities.They are often used in project management to visually identify task and project start dates, durations, end dates, and much more.Gantt charts are mostly used in difficult projects or for comparing one project schedule to another.

They can be used to generate a schedule for a small project, but may not be useful when needing an accurate timeline over long periods of time.so, Gantt chart software makes things simpler.don’t necessarily need software at all to generate a Gantt chart.People have been able to make an easy Gantt chart since the 1890s! Follow these steps whether using software or creating a Gantt chart manually.

6 Steps to Make a Gantt Chart

Step 1 – Review Scope Baseline

Gather the team and review the approved scope baseline, which include of t3 components:

1) the Scope Statement,

2) the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

3) the WBS Dictionary.

The project team member should confirm that the scope baseline addresses are 100% of the project scope.

Step 2 – Create Activities

Using a technique called Decomposition, the project team breaks down every WBS work package into the activities.

Just like when creating the WBS work packages, the team is required to set rules for creating scheduled activities.

The final schedule needs to be the one that is efficient.

Too many activities can be as bad as so few.

It is also important to identify deadlines and milestones when decomposing the project.

Step 3 – Sequence Activities

Each activity is related to one or more other activities.

Each activity, except the first and last, has a relationship with a predecessor and a successor.

Sequencing activities means placing the activities in the right order by using the right relationships.

There are 4 types of relationships:

1. Finish to Start –

Cannot start the successor activity until its predecessor Is completed.

2. Start to Start –

Cannot start the successor activity until its predecessor has initiated.

3. Start to Finish –

Cannot finish the successor activity until its predecessor has initiated.

4. Finish to Finish –

Cannot finish the successor activity until its predecessor has initiated.

Relationships 1 and 2 are the most generally used.

Finish to Start is a sequential relationship and Start to Start is typically a parallel or overlapping relationship.

Step 4 – Estimate Resources

Before the durations can be evaluated, resources must be identified and estimated.

Resources contain labor, material and equipment.

There are few estimating techniques used including Analogous, Parametric, Three-Point and Bottom Up.

Skills, competencies and technology are key factors to consider in the basis of the evaluation.

After evaluating the resources, they are loaded in the schedule against the respective activities.

A resource calendar is also generated to show when resources are needed and available.

Step 5 – Estimate Durations

Duration is the amount of time between the beginning and the end of the activity.

Review the resources, relationships and sequencing, then estimate the duration for every activity.

The same estimating techniques used for estimating resources can be used to estimate durations, but make sure that identify constraints. Which are rules or restrictions on an activity.

Step 6 – Develop Schedule

Generate the Gantt chart by loading all data into a project management software tool.

Verify that any scheduling hazards have been taken into account by reviewing the timetable.

Verify that reaction strategies and schedule backups have been considered.

A typical way to address schedule contingencies is to add Buffers at an activity level, project level or both.

A Buffer is an activity with no resources or scope to offer additional time and reduce schedule risks.

Resource optimization techniques, like resource smoothing or leveling are used to generate realistic schedules.

Review and approve the schedule.

The baseline schedule is the one that has been authorized for the Gantt chart.

How To Use A Gantt Chart

The Gantt chart schedule baseline is the formal document used to execute, screening and control the project schedule performance.

The project team members are assigned work packages in the Work Breakdown Structure

The respective team members status their work package activities by using a disciplined method.

There are 2 statusing methods commonly used:

1) Percent complete

2) Earned Value Management System (EVMS).

Percent complete is easy to use, but can be somewhat subjective.

EVMS, measures schedule performance based on the value of the work completed.

The actual schedule performance is compared to the planned performance to identify the variances.

Special attention is applied to the risk Path activities.

The risk Path is the longest path in the schedule and has zero float.

It is referred to as the critical because any delay in a critical path activity results in the same delay in the project end date also.

The Critical Path is usually colored red when displayed in Gantt charts.

If the variance exceeds an established threshold, the project team is required to consider taking either preventive or corrective action.

Only if the variance cannot be adequately addressed by these actions should the project team issue a change request to formally change the baseline.

Gantt chart highlighting critical path

Gantt Chart Highlighting Critical Path

A variety of methods are available for taking action to correct deviations.

The project team can add Leads or Late.

A Lead is an intentional adjustment to an activity by creating the start date earlier than planned.

A Lead can be used to accelerate schedules.

However, schedule risk is typically improved.

Similar to this, a lag is a purposeful change to an activity that pushes back the start date.

The scheduling relationship is the same whether making a Lead or a Lag.

In addition, if only schedule acceleration is required, then there are two techniques used without reducing scope These two techniques are:

  • Fast Tracking
  • Crashing.

Fast tracking is improving the overlapping of activities and can result in increased risks.

Crashing is improving resources and can result in increased costs.

Another use of a Gantt chart is to forecast the schedule performance.

Gantt charts are excellent tools to forecast the project schedules.

More have forecasting methods to compute Estimate-to-Complete and Estimate-at-Completion.

Earned Value techniques are also incorporated in more of the scheduling applications for forecasting.

What are the components of a gantt chart?

Every good gantt chart contain the following basic parts:

Task list:

Runs vertically down the left of the gantt chart to explain project work and may be organized into groups and subgroups

Timeline:

Runs horizontally across the top of the gantt chart and display months, weeks, days, and years

Dateline:

A vertical line that highlights the current date of the gantt chart

Bars:

Horizontal markers on the right side of the gantt chart that represent tasks and show the progress, duration, and start and end dates

Milestones:

Yellow diamonds that call out main events, dates, decisions, and deliverables

Dependencies:

Light gray lines that connect tasks that require to happen in a certain order

Progress:

Shows how far along work is and may be indicated by percent finish and/or bar shading

Resource assigned:

Indicates the person or team responsible for finishing a task

The Main Elements of a Gantt Chart

Elements Of Gantt Chart

There are 3main elements:

  • Task
  • Gantt bar
  • Baseline

There are 2 types of Gantt bars: summary and work.

Summary bars display the start date, duration (in days), and finish date for each task.

A Gantt bar gives a high-level overview of where the project is at the present.

Work bars display the starting date, duration (in hours), and finish date.

The actual workload is represented by these Gantt bars.

The Most Important Gantt Chart Software Features

There are many features that are needed.

Most software options come fully equipped.

Customizability

    1. 1. The chart should be entirely editable and customizable.
    2. 2. It must consist of color-coding capabilities, as well as the ability to add, modify and customize task names, descriptions, and milestones.
    3. 3. The ability to add notes to tasks and dependencies is a plus.

File Management:

    1. 1. The chart should have integrated file management and allow team members to attach files and links to external documents to every task.

Shareability

    1. 1. It should have an export function and other sharing capabilities, as well as collaboration features that enables simultaneous editing by more people.

Tracking

    1. 1. It should allow us to trace tasks across milestones, statuses, durations, and projects.

Formatting

    1. 1. It should offer conditional formatting, including highlighted rows and columns, copies of subtasks, dates with times, and vertical and horizontal date increments

Integrations

    1. 1. It should permit the Gantt chart tool to integrate with other software like attendance, timesheet, and payroll software.
  • 2. Compatibility with all versions of the Microsoft Office and Google Docs is also a plus.
  • Mobile Usability

      1. 1. The Gantt chart tool must have a mobile version in addition to a web-based version. It’s also worth checking , the software has a free version available, specially if you are on a budget.

    Advantages and uses of Gantt chart

    Five reasons why should use Gantt charts in project management:

    1. Helps in identifying all tasks:

    When set up a Gantt chart, forced to think through all the tasks involved in every work package in the WBS of the project.

    This process allows one to better understand and explain the scope of the project and all the necessary tasks, rather than just jumping into the project with no clarity.

    2. Establishing the dependencies clearly:

    All the dependencies between tasks are displayed clearly showing the flow of the tasks.

    3. Helps in identifying the critical path:

    Once created a Gantt chart can identify the critical path (the path with longest duration) of the schedule.

    Critical path tasks will then become more important tasks from scheduling point of view.

    If any of the critical path tasks will be late, then the full schedule will get delayed.

    4. Visually inform your team about progress:

    The visual depiction of progress data through Gantt charts lets quickly communicate the team’s progress and show which tasks have been completed.

    5. Simplify the complex network diagram:

    Gantt chart visually presents the sequence of tasks in a very easy manner vis-à-vis a network diagram.

    It becomes more simple to understand and follow even if there will be a large number of tasks.

    Conclusion

    Gantt charts are more useful tool for scheduling and have become one of the most famous methods for showing project schedules.It is very simple to read and understand.Different software packages are available to draw a schedule using Gantt charts.

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