To successfully complete a project, you must control a large number of tasks and ensure that they’re completed on schedule. If you miss a deadline there could be drastic effects on the rest of the project. This may result in project delays and cost a lot more. That’s why it’s helpful to be able to see everything that needs to be done, and know, at a glance, when each activity needs to be completed.
Gantt charts convey this information visually. They outline all of the tasks involved in a project, and their order, shown against a timescale. This gives you an instant overview of a project, its associated tasks and milestones, and when these need to be finished.
When you set up a Gantt chart, you need to think through all of the tasks and milestones involved in your project. As part of this process, you’ll work out who will be responsible for each task, how long each task will take, and what problems your team may encounter.
This detailed thinking helps you ensure that the schedule is workable, that the right people are assigned to each task, and that you have workarounds for potential problems before you start.
They also help you work out practical aspects of a project, such as the minimum time it will take to deliver, and which tasks need to be completed before others can start. Plus, you can use them to identify the critical path – the sequence of tasks that must individually be completed on time if the whole project is to deliver on time.
Finally, you can use them to keep your team and your sponsors informed of progress. Simply update the chart to show schedule changes and their implications, or use it to communicate that key tasks have been completed.
You can see an example in figure 1, below: