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Five Advantages of using Gantt Charts in Project Management
Visual representation is the most powerful technique to achieve efficiency and simplicity in any process. Project management is no different. Rather project management has a greater need for such tools that provide a visual representation. Generally, a project that is required to be managed involves a number of resources allocated between a numbers of departments. These departments are then expected to work in sync to achieve a common milestone.
The process of project management may seem easy but when it is being carried out, it becomes one of the toughest, stressful jobs of the world.
A project manager is responsible for the whole process. In other words, if the project is completed on time then he did a good job and if the project got delayed or did not give the required output, he is solely responsible. In this scenario, it becomes imperative for the project manager to have such tools at his disposal that will assist him in the process of project management. One such tool, and the most useful one out there, is a Gantt chart.
What is a Gantt chart?
A Gantt chart is like the sky. To others, the sky is just some clouds over their head but to the scientist, it has unimaginable benefits. Similarly, a Gantt chart is just a visual representation of the project and its resources through bars or horizontal lines for some. But, by providing this graphical representation, a Gantt chart aims to help in tracking all aspects of a project let it be the resources, tasks, status, budget all through a glance.
Including such visual representation in your project will lead to better communication, better productivity, and forecast. A project manager, however, can use a Gantt chart for the following purpose:
- To schedule the tasks
- Set the start and end date for each task
- Split the activities by Status of the Task
- Analyze Task Completion
- Analyze work completion
- Keep tabs on active Tasks
- Differentiate between tasks by representing them with different colors
History of Gantt charts
Gantt chart is named after an American project manager, Henry Gantt after he created a chart used for project management in the early 1900s. However, the actual creation of the Gantt chart dates back to the late 1800s when a polish engineer Karol Adamiecki invented a diagram called harmonograph to serve the purpose of project scheduling. Due to language restrictions, as this harmonograph was documented in polish and Russian only, it did not get much popularity.
On the other hand, the invention by Henry Gantt got popularity and attracted more creativity. Due to this reason, his chart went through some remarkable evolution and entitled Henry Gantt as the creator of popular visualization tool, The Gantt chart.
Let’s discuss what makes a Gantt chart so popular and essential for your project.
Five Advantages of using Gantt charts
- Visual representation
At its core, a Gantt chart is a tool used for Visualization. The purpose of Visualization is that it helps in extracting useful information from a chunk of data in just seconds. It further equips anyone who is accessing the Gantt chart to:
- Analyze a large volume of data.
- Identify areas of improvement
- Detect potential risk or anomalies.
- Understand different aspects of the project both as a whole or in parts.
- Formulate future needs and milestones for the project.
Apart from these uses, specific to project management, a Gantt chart assists the users to skim through critical project information like identifying who has been assigned the task, when is the task due, dependencies of the task on resources or other tasks and so on.
Colors play a crucial role in the construction of an optimum Gantt chart.
The employee or department responsible for a certain task is represented through different colors. Other Good practices used are:
- Orange for tasks that involve social communication
- Blue for tasks that are close to completion
- Green for successfully completed tasks
- Black for tasks that need further clarification
- Red for urgent or problematic tasks
- Better Communication
If you have ever worked in a team or managed one, you have definitely encountered the problem of misunderstandings. These misunderstandings are caused due to a lack of communication among the team members which leads to isolated, incomplete and inefficient tasks.
This brings us to the next and probably the most important advantage of using a Gantt chart in your project that is Communication. Gantt chart acts as a prioritization tool which helps in identifying which task needs to be prioritized on the basis of certain factors like
- Task deadline
- Dependency on other tasks
- Resources being consumed by the task
- Impact of the task on the whole project
The project manager can use the charts to keep tabs on the individual working of the team members. Even a Task is bifurcated into smaller tasks that are performed by a member of a specific domain. Therefore, it becomes cumbersome to monitor each employee and their progress.
But, with the help of a Gantt chart, a project manager can communicate with each employee and analyze their performance individually. This can lead to the utmost efficiency in the project along with employee satisfaction. It will also enable the project manager to give inputs to the employees and work on improving the relationship of the team.
Another important area which falls under communication is working with remote team members.
Remote work is the new trend in every industry wherever it is possible and it also is a new challenge for the domain of project management. With a remote team, it becomes difficult to coordinate and keep everyone on the same page or simply saying, it lacks effective communication. There are many tools available in the market to collaborate and work in a remote environment but a Gantt chart is certainly one of the best.
Regardless of the time differences, it becomes easier for the team to stay on the same page. Each employee can view his or her tasks along with the dependency on other tasks and the project manager can make sure that the project is on-time by keeping tabs on not only the tasks but the individual performance of the employees.
- Improved Resource management
Effectively managing the resources involved in the project makes sure that the project is completed on-time, in-budget and with optimum results. With the ability of Gantt charts to show present and future tasks as well as the resources associated with them and other available resources, it enables the project managers to plan and schedule effortlessly and efficiently.
The advantage of using Gantt chart for resource management can be seen in the following areas
- Resource planning
By identification of the future needs of the project and prioritizing the tasks through a Gantt chart, resource planning has never been easier. In situations where huge changes are required in an ongoing project, just take a glance at your Gantt chart, move some bars, change some colors and your project is all set to continue working smoothly.
- Avoid resource overuse
Each resource can be viewed separately in a Gantt chart which lets you identify where the resource is being used and where it will be used until the project completes. This helps you in avoiding resource overuse by substituting or maybe postponing less important tasks, therefore, increasing the life of the resource and maintaining its efficiency.
- Better resource sharing
By viewing the tasks and their dependency on each other, you can eradicate the chance of conflicts by sharing a resource transparently. This will include setting timelines for the resource usage based on the prioritization of the task and its effect on the project along with other factors. Resource sharing can also be maintained among different projects under the same organization.
Transparency is one of the key factors when it comes to making sure that every person involved in a process performs his or her share of work responsibly and accurately. Let us see how different individuals can benefit from the transparency provided by the Gantt chart.
- For stakeholders
Stakeholders are the persons who invest in a project. It is only fair that a stakeholder is kept in the loop with the project performance as it is his money on the line. A stakeholder can access a Gantt chart at any time to check the progress of the project or compare the project progress with the expected progress.
- For project managers
A project manager is responsible for the work of his employees and he is solely answerable to higher management. Gantt chart lets him view the work of his team members as well as keep tabs on the tasks at hand. He can then create reports and plan future tasks more accurately.
- For team members
Team members have always faced a lack of transparency and unjustified deadlines. Sometimes they even feel that they are not being distributed work equally. Gantt chart removes such conflicts by showing the project and task details, their allocation and their deadlines to all the team members.
- Time management
One of the biggest advantages of the Gantt chart is time management. You can not only track the start and end date of the tasks but also effectively predict the time for overall project development.
Sharing of resources, maintaining deadlines, allocating work and managing task dependencies, all of these tasks need to have active time management. This time management can become a stressful task for the project manager if not for project management tools especially the Gantt chart.