Scheduling with Gantt chart: Always following the bar

The Gantt chart or bar chart according to Gantt is one of the most popular methods for scheduling projects. What it can do and how it is created can be found here.

Gerald Aquila

Gerald Aquila

418 words • 4 minutes

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The method was named after the American engineer and management consultant Henry Gantt. He further developed the idea of Karol Adamiecki from Poland and helped to make a breakthrough of the method into the West.

The key characteristic of the Gantt chart is its visual logic. All work steps within a project are represented as horizontal bars: Thus, both their probable duration and dependencies on other activities become apparent. Specific events, e.g. milestones or intermediate objectives are marked by special icons.

gantt-chart

As it is immediately apparent when individual work packages have to be completed and which deadlines are binding, the project schedule can be optimized right from the start.

Creating a Gantt chart correctly

  1. All activities of the project are entered in the first column of the table.
  2. A horizontal time axis indicates the entire project duration. This can be divided into days, weeks or months. These time units correspond to structuring of the columns.
  3. Now the appropriate time bar for the respective task is entered in each line. Sequences, overlaps and gaps (buffers) become immediately visible. For work package dependencies, there are established icons that indicate the nature of the relationship (e.g., "end-to-end": once package A is completed, package B can begin.) Also, project resources are often plotted as bars to map where bottlenecks are possible.

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The schedule is based on the start date or the end date. Once this is set, further dates for milestones and individual activities can be fixed.

The critical path

Some work steps are more flexible in terms of time, and can be pushed if necessary. On the basis of the critical path one can recognize those processes whose timely implementation is obligatory. A temporal shift of events along the critical path would have direct impact on the achievement of the target date. The marker cannot prevent delays, but it can indicate them early so that, for example, resources can be redistributed.

gantt-critical-path

Advantages and disadvantages of a Gantt chart

Advantages

  • It shows a comprehensive picture of all project tasks including dependencies.
  • It helps to set realistic timeframes.
  • It is easy to understand for everyone involved.
  • Processes are structured from the beginning and considered as a whole.

Disadvantages

  • Required resources are displayed inaccurately: The size of the bars does not indicate how extensive or complex the respective activity is.

Relevant Project Management Terms

Gantt Chart  

In a Gantt chart (named after Henry Gantt) all work steps within a project are displayed as horizontal bars along a time axis. Thus, duration, overlaps and dependencies of all activities are visible at a glance. Gantt scheduling is one of the most common methods in project management.

Progress Report  

See Project Progress Report.

Planning / Project Planning  

Project planning is one of the most important components of project management. It is part of the four phases of traditional project management (initiation, planning, control, completion) and also occupies an important but more flexible place in agile project management.

Project Activity  

See Activity

Resources  

In project management, resources describe the personnel and material resources required and used to complete a project.

Schedule  

The schedule maps the chronological sequence of work packages including start and end dates, as well as milestones and buffer times. The schedule can be planned with a forward or backward calculation.

Work Package  

A work package is defined as a task that must be completed at a certain point in time with a previously defined effort and result. Work packages are important elements of the work breakdown structure and serve as the basis for scheduling, resource and cost planning.

Glossary