What Is A Gantt Chart?

If you’re wondering what a Gantt chart is, we’ve broken it down—along with its history and use cases—in this article.

Dylan, Founder and Managing Partner at ClearPoint, has over 25 years of experience working with organizations to improve their performance management and strategy execution processes.

What Is A Gantt Chart?

A Gantt chart is a project management tool that can be used to display a project and its milestones over time. It provides a visual guide of the start and end dates of different activities, the statuses of those activities, and whether or not those activities have been completed.

What Is A Gantt Chart?

On the top of the Gantt chart (shown above), you’ll see a timeline (in this case, months January through August)—and down the column on the left, you’ll see each component of the project (which are called “milestones”). Each milestone is represented by a bar that shows the length of time it will take to complete the activity, which indicates when the milestone starts and ends and if it overlaps with other milestones.

Gantt Charts: Past & Present

The Harmonogram, which is considered an early version of the Gantt chart, was created in 1890 by Polish engineer Karol Adamiecki. He ran a steelworks in Poland—and he created the Harmonogram with the idea to better manage the projects within his company. But 15 years later, U.S.-based Henry Gantt—also an engineer—modernized and popularized the chart that now bears his name.

Gantt charts have been used in many large and complex projects across the country—including the Hoover Dam. But while the Gantt chart has always been helpful, trying to adjust all aspects of a project by hand was extremely laborious. Today, software has made Gantt chart creation and management a cinch so more of a team’s effort can go into the actual project (rather than managing the chart). Additionally, software can allow you to see add-ons like status, percentage complete, owners and collaborators, days past due, and more.

See Also: How To Create A Gantt Chart

2 Gantt Chart Use Cases

  1. Municipal: Let’s say your city decides to build a new fire station, and you want to track the status of the project so you can properly plan for a grand opening celebration. A Gantt chart is perfect for this. It may also allow you to look at the new building and how it will play a role in the fire department budget for the year to come. Note: The construction crew building the firehouse will likely have a Gantt chart, too! And that brings us to our next use case…
  2. Construction: If a new metro line is being constructed, the company needs to keep track of every single phase of the project—from all the details involved in clearing the ground, to laying material for the track, to building access to those stations and building parking garages nearby.  

A Few Tips To Get You Started

If you are trying to manage multiple projects, have multiple owners of the milestones within a project, or your project links to your strategic objectives and you want to see them all in one place, then you might be a great candidate for ClearPoint.

If you have one simple project you need a Gantt chart for, you’d like to use a Gantt chart for project demonstration purposes, or you’re currently in the market for the perfect Gantt chart solution before you scale up, Excel may be the right choice to get started!

We have an easy-to-use Gantt template that can help you begin quickly. Here are a couple of tips once you’ve download the template:

  1. The template is great for simple project management—but if your project is more complex, you run the risk of breaking cell references (and thus ruining your Gantt chart). We’re big believers that Excel is great for some projects and not so great for others—so keep this in mind as you get started!
  2. We highly suggest you define your project outside of the Excel template first. In other words, brainstorm your project milestones—then add them to the template. Depending on the time sensitivity of the project, it may make sense to wait until all of the milestones are defined to determine an end date, as some will be dependent on one another.
  3. If you need to add supplementary information—like owners, collaborators, or definitions—simply add another sheet to the document! This could be very helpful in the long run.

Simply click on the banner below to download your free Excel Gantt chart today!

The first step is to think through all the tasks involved in your project and how you want to split them up to easily manage them.
If your Gantt chart’s milestones fall behind, you’ll need to update the timeline for any dependent milestones. This is why using a Project Management Software is helpful when using Gantt charts!
By pulling together information and thinking through how you want to divide your project into tasks, project managers better understand their project and establish a realistic timeframe to finish it. Project managers can also easily visualize progress with a Gantt chart!
A simple project, without too many moving parts, is best to use for a Gantt chart.
Project Management software allows you to easily plan projects, collaborate with teams, and visualize progress. They also make it easy to build Gantt charts for you. Check out ClearPoint’s Project Management software.
What Is A Gantt Chart?