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A Gantt chart is a bar chart used in project management to illustrate project phases and schedules. Since its introduction in the 1910s, the Gantt chart has become one of the most popular project management tools that help effectively plan and track project progress. Over the years, several additions were made to the original design and the chart remains just as useful today as it did 100 years ago.
A Gantt chart is composed out of two axes – the vertical listing all the project tasks (or phases) and the horizontal representing a timeline. In the chart, each task is represented as a bar, where its length stands for the duration of the task, and the position on the timeline correlates with the start and end dates of each task.
This way, the project manager can see all the project tasks, plan them out to meet the project schedule and then track progress as a project gets going.
With the development of computer software and project management tools, several additions to the original bar chart were made. The Modern Gantt chart now also shows task completion percentages, marks which day of the project it is, shows task assignments, subtasks, and most importantly allows to draw dependencies between tasks.
All of this allows for more accurate planning and ability to evaluate the current situation of an ongoing project.
There were several people in the early 1900s working on tools similar to what we know as the Gantt chart today. Karol Adamiecky developed his solution – a harmonogram in 1896. However, he only published his work in 1931 and did so in the polish language which limited the spread and recognition of authorship. Hermann Schurch published his version of the charts in 1912. However, at the time such static versions of the chart were considered routine in Germany and thus did not gain much traction. Henry Gantt designed his version of the chart in 1910-1915 and has since been recognized as the creator of the chart. With various previous work in scientific management, the Gantt chart was simply a natural progression of his explorations.
The first Gantt charts were drawn on paper. Which meant, if there were any changes in the process, the entire chart would have to be redrawn. Later, managers started using pieces of paper to mark tasks, thus the changes could be tracked a little more easily. Eventually, with the development of computer software and project management tools, the charts became digital and evolved with new features and possibilities.
It was in the 1999 that the Gantt charts were deemed as “one of the most widely used management tools for project scheduling and control“.
A Gantt chart was introduced as a powerful new tool in the 1910s and is still widely used today. Its popularity comes mostly from the ease of use and simplicity it adds to the project management process. To be more precise, the Gantt chart helps project managers in 3 distinct ways – creating a project outline, planning tasks, and tracking progress.
1 – Creating the project outline. With the use of a Gantt chart, the project manager can easily visualize all the project phases and their dependencies on a timeline. This way, they can see how long the project would take to complete as well as evaluating the duration of each project phase. This is especially useful before the project begins and there is a need to distribute funds, evaluate risks, and write the project charter.
2 – Planning tasks. Once the project is approved, a Gantt chart can be a useful tool to list out all of the project tasks and schedule them on a timeline. With modern Gantt chart software, you can draw dependencies, list assignments, and specify subtasks, thus creating a full picture of what needs to happen and finding a realistic way of executing the work.
3 -Tracking progress. Lastly, as the project team gets to work, project managers can use the Gantt chart to monitor the progress. See which tasks are completed on time, which are late, and which will be affected by the delays. With this information at hand, it becomes a lot easier to take proactive steps and replan to make sure the project still meets its goals.
With the development of Agile project management practices, there has been some debate about the need for Gantt charts. Teams that turn their process Agile, often say planning tasks out in advance goes against the Agile values. However, being Agile and using a Gantt chart doesn’t necessarily have to clash. A Gantt chart can be an addition used by managers to map out the long-term goals and plans. Since, relying solely on iteration planning works great for the project team, but lacks the long-term approach and overview of the bigger picture that is often needed by management. This is why even though they seem ideologically different, Agile companies often do use a version of Gantt charts.
For the most part, you will not see a traditional Gantt chart in Agile project management tools. Instead, you will find a version of a Timeline that has similar features. In such cases, all of the team tasks are still planned in iterations and tracked on a task board. While a separate Timeline view allows to visualize them according to deadlines and duration. A Timeline often includes tasks out of several boards, allowing to have an overview of all current and future tasks as well as their dependencies.
This way, Agile companies can get the best of both worlds. The project team is planning and executing tasks on an iteration basis. While the managers hold a separate backlog of future tasks that will possibly need to be completed. All of these tasks are visualized in one timeline with dependencies, assignments, additional information, and more. Making it easy to plan both – short and long term.
There are two ways Teamhood users can create their Gantt chart – there is a traditional Gantt chart with a list of tasks in the Portfolio view and there is a Timeline view, that can be used as a modified Gantt chart to track dependencies and due dates. Both of these options correlate with their designated task boards. Which creates a way to plan and then execute tasks in the most convenient manner.
To create the traditional chart in Teamhood, use our new Portfolio feature. Get going by creating a new project and then simply start adding items. Teamhood supports multiple layers of tasks, thus you can begin with project phases, then divide them into tasks, and, if needed, give them subtasks. Subtasks of each task are grouped in a box under the parent task. Letting you understand what needs to be done in each phase of the project and plan accordingly.
In the portfolio Gantt chart, you can quickly assign tasks to your team members, define their dependencies and open the task details to add in additional information or a comment for the team. Choose a monthly, weekly, or daily view to adjust the level of detail you want to see. Once a task or a phase is finished, mark it complete and the task border will turn green in the Gantt chart.
All of the tasks you create in the portfolio view, are automatically added to the teams’ backlog on the task board. Here the team can easily review and decide what will be completed in the next iteration.
If you are looking for something to simply visualize your Agile tasks based on their start and due dates and to draw dependencies, using a regular Gantt chart may not be ideal. For such cases, Teamhood offers the Timeline view. Similar to the portfolio view, here you can create tasks on a timeline, define their duration, assignments, dependencies, and other details. However, as the team manages their tasks on the task board, there is no task list on the left.
This view is great for those that do not want to plan extensively but are looking for an overview of their Agile tasks represented on a Timeline. Here you can quickly see when specific tasks have to be done, what dependencies they may have, and act to aid the situation if there are any delays.
The Gantt chart is an effective project management tool that stood the test of time and keeps on proving its worth even today. Managers from different fields and methodologies still use various modifications of the chart to track their projects and solidify plans. Showing us the true power of visualization.