An indispensable tool in project management, the Gantt chart allows you to graphically represent all the tasks of a project and to follow its progress. It is used by almost all project managers, for all types of projects and in all areas. However, it delivers its full potential for complex projects, composed of many interlocking tasks. Using the Gantt chart, you can:
- Monitor the progress of the project;
- Visualize the different tasks to be performed;
- Master the sequence of activities, especially when some are connected or conducted in parallel;
- Know the start, end and duration of each task;
- Estimate the impact of a delay on the rest of the project;
- Allocate and manage resources for each task (human, financial, material …).
The Gantt chart makes it easier to organize, plan and track tasks. To use it effectively, you need to know the different tasks that mark your project, and the order in which they are to be carried out. Here are the 6 steps to create an effective Gantt chart.
How to Create a Gantt Charts
- Clearly define your Project
To begin, you need to define your project precisely. This is the first essential step for a successful project launch. A pen is useless if you do not know what to write. It’s the same thing for the Gantt chart: it’s useless if you do not know what to put in. Let’s take the example of building a house. To get started, you need detailed maps of the house. The same is true for a project. With your team, establish the following:
- The start date and the end date of the project
- The budget
- The list of tasks
- Limitations and risks
- List the tasks to be Performed
Once the outline of your project is well defined, you must list all the tasks necessary to accomplish it. For the delivery of a turnkey house, the tasks to be listed correspond to all the stages of the construction, from the choice of the ground to the installation of the interior, by way of the installation of the roof and the painting. For your Gantt chart to be correct and effective, no task should be forgotten. To help you, define the major steps of your project, and then break them down into subtasks.
- Estimate the duration of tasks
For accurate and effective planning of your project, you must estimate the precise duration of each task. Choose a unit of measurement that is relevant to the project: time, day, week … And keep the same unit on the whole diagram.
Determine the start date and end date for each task. These data are essential in the creation of the Gantt chart.
- Identify the dependencies between each task
The different tasks that make up your project are connected to each other and must be done in a specific order. Some missions can only start after another task has finished. For example, for your home, you cannot install the windows if the walls are not mounted. Other tasks may overlap. Electricity can be made at the same time as laying windows. And finally, there are the ancillary tasks, which do not affect other tasks, such as the layout of the garden.
There are thus 4 types of dependency between tasks:
- End to End: Both tasks must end at the same time.
- End to start: This is the standard sequencing mode where a task can only begin when the previous task is completed.
- Start to End: A task cannot complete until the previous task has started.
- Start to Start: A task can only begin if the previous task has started.
- Establish a detailed Project Schedule
Once you have all the previous information in hand, it is time to establish the detailed planning of your project. The project therefore begins on a specific date, corresponding to the start of the first task (for example, drawing the plans of the house). The end date or the delivery date corresponds to the end of the last activity. Your planning should be as clear, complete and realistic as possible.
- Use a suitable tool
To create your Gantt chart, you have three choices:
- Microsoft Excel,
- A software specialized in the creation of Gantt chart
- A project management software
It all depends on your level of experience in project management and the complexity of your project. Excel is the least effective way to create a Gantt chart. Prefer it if you are in charge of a small project with a limited budget. Otherwise, choose Gantt software, a more advanced, and more functional and flexible solution than Excel. In addition, these programs promote the collaborative aspect.
Finally, the project management software is a real toolbox with a Gantt chart. Its functionalities are numerous to facilitate the management of project, and it is totally dedicated to the collaboration between the different actors of the project.
The Gantt chart is the unavoidable way to plan your projects. Follow these steps to create an effective Gantt chart for you and your team.