Project management planning is a pain—from deciding what needs to be done when, to who is responsible for what piece of the project, planning for a project can be more stressful than actually completing the project itself.
Luckily, there are Gantt charts. If you haven’t heard of them before, check out the video below. Have more questions? Check out our extended guide to Gantt charts!
Did you know that 57% of projects fail because of a “breakdown in communication?” What if I told you there was a system that anyone could use that can stop miscommunication right in its tracks?
If you’re a project manager or are interested in project management, you’ve probably heard the term “Gantt Chart” before. In fact, Gantt charts are a cornerstone of project management, and a great tool to keep your team on track.
In this video, we’ll cover what a Gantt chart is, why they’re effective, and how they have been successfully used in the past.
So what is a Gantt chart? My guess is that you’ve seen them before. They look like this—a bar chart with dates that mark the start and finish of the parts of a project. They’re laid out in order of when a task needs to be completed.
For example, if you’re building a teddy bear, you have to first cut the stuffed toy’s fur before dressing it and shipping it off. This Gantt chart shows the progress of how to build a Vermont Teddy Bear, as described by Karen Collins.
At this point you might be thinking, “I understand the concept, but I don’t understand why people would use it.” Consider these four reasons:
- First, Gantt charts outline clear start and end dates for all tasks. They are a clear visual representation of expectations and key dates for task completion.
- Secondly, they foster communication across the team. They let everyone know who is doing what at what time.
- Thirdly, Gantt charts show how tasks relate to one another. In other words, they force their creators to figure out the sequence of tasked events and assignments.
- And finally, Gantt charts help outline the bigger picture. They keep users in scope, on budget, and on time, while forcing key decisions on a clean timeline.
These are great ideas in theory, but what everyone wants to know is:
Do Gantt charts work?
The short answer is yes. Let me give you an example. You’ve probably heard of the Hoover Dam. By the time it was built in 1935, it was the largest dam in the world, built in a brutal climate by 21,000 construction workers.
But what you probably don’t know is that it was one of the first major successes that historians have attributed to Gantt charts. In fact, this planning methodology was so successful that the Hoover Dam was built two years ahead of schedule.
Now that’s good planning.
Of course, there are objections to Gantt charts. These are the major three:
- One: As an inflexible project management system, Gantt charts do not offer quick solutions to addressing problems with an unforeseen event.
- Two: It can become tedious to consistently update the chart, or expect teammates to keep their personal charts updated.
- And three: Gantt charts are largely used to display how far along a project will be at a certain point in time—there is not much space on the typical Gantt chart to elaborate on task expectations or purpose.
But these objections don’t necessarily undermine the value of Gantt charts. They provide a visual representation of where a project should begin and end. They keep all team members apprised of how far along the project is, how long each task should take, and how long the team has until the final deliverable is due.
If you want to learn more about project management, check out our project management blog.