Gantt Chart Mechanics

Gantt charts are great for organizing and clarifing the planned use of resources by creating horizontal bars to represent activities and exercising control against the bars. The charts use forward scheduling logic, so you set the chart up by setting today's date as Day Zero and making time estimates for each activity. By setting it up this way (forward scheduling) you provide the team with an opportunity to create trial-and-error schedules. Use progress bars to exercise control.

Here are some Gantt Chart examples:

Sometimes they are also called bar charts or milestone charts, basically acknowledging milestone checkpoints. These milestones are NOT tasks; they represent important events involved with your project. To optimize the use of the Gantt chart and the management of it, focus on critical events so that only milestone markers remain. Remember to review it frequently, and discuss it at your project team meetings.

Here are a few tried and true steps in the creation of the charts:

1.Identify project activities, in order of their occurrence, on the left side of your project form.
To improve readability of the chart, add a blank line between each activity. This will create room for a progress bar that I add later.

2.Develop estimates for each activity.
Use the estimating techniques discussed in an earlier blog post and develop the estimates with your project team.

3.Create time buckets that represent the appropriate period of time.
Created columns that represent one day, use one of the popular spreadsheet applications like Microsoft Project.

4.For each activity, indicate start and finish times by creating task bars.
Don’t forget to recognize dependencies.

5.Assign a milestone.
Consider a go/no-go step as a milestone.

6.Share your Gantt chart with all key business owners/stakeholders (ESPECIALLY your project team).
Do this so everyone understands and all the team players are on the same page.

7.Monitor your project and create progress bars.
Use another color to signify completed work.

These charts are great to show to management because the act like a snap shot of the project, you can show a quick picture of your progress versus your plan at any date along the axis.

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