A Gantt chart is a horizontal bar chart that shows a project’s planned schedule and its tasks or events over time. Each bar in the Gantt chart represents a task, while the dates are laid out horizontally.
Gantt charts are commonly used as project schedules because they are one of the most useful and classic ways of showing activities displayed against time. They can also show task dependencies — how each task connects to others.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at Gantt charts, including how they compare to other types of charts, their benefits, how to make your own, and more.
What is a Gantt chart used for?
A simple Gantt chart clarifies deadlines, milestones, and project progress. It serves as a single source of truth for teams; everyone instantly knows what they have to work on, when, and how it impacts the overall project. There are many different use cases for Gantt charts and they can be applied to any type of project. Here are a few ways they come in handy for different goals or projects:
- Simplify complex projects and help track their KPIs
- Can help with resource management when it comes to planning marketing campaigns
- Allows for a visual understanding of a project’s scope and requirements
- Managers can use them as a high-level guide to track project progress
In a broader framework, Gantt charts help businesses with a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), a specific method of breaking down large or complicated goals into manageable objectives. A WBS shows what tasks need to be completed, but doesn’t show when each will begin or end. By starting with a solid WBS, you can then layer in Gantt chart components such as time, ownership, status, or milestones to create a clearer picture.
To get a better idea of how it works, imagine a marketing team using a Gantt chart to plan out all their different campaigns and tasks, such as social media, website content, branding, and more. With a Gantt chart, everyone on the team can see exactly which tasks are currently being worked on, which team members are working on them, and how each task affects the other. This allows them to better plan deliverables and effectively estimate timelines.
Read also: Gantt chart examples
Pert chart vs Gantt chart
In a PERT chart (Program Evaluation and Review Technique), tasks are represented in a network diagram that includes nodes or circles with arrows between them to demonstrate dependencies between tasks. While both Gantt and PERT charts are important project management tools, there are some key differences between the two, such as where they focus, task dependencies, complexity, and critical path.
Overall, PERT charts better depict task interdependencies and critical path analysis for complex projects, while Gantt charts emphasize task scheduling and progress tracking for a range of project sizes and types. That’s not to say both charts can’t be applied to the same project, but in general, PERT chats are ideal for the planning phase while Gantt offers more flexibility and adaptability throughout project implementation.
What are the components of a Gantt chart?
While every team’s project Gantt chart will look different depending on their unique workflow and critical path, there are six major components that are important to include:
- Dates/times: Gantt charts show task dates from beginning to end as well as their place on the overall project timeline to enable easier planning.
- Tasks and task bars: Tasks and sub-tasks are shown in order of what needs to be completed. Tasks are organized vertically on the left, with bars representing each task shown as a visual bar on a timeline to better view task dependencies over a project’s lifetime.
- Milestones and progress: Certain points of a project are represented as milestones, which on a Gantt chart can look like tasks with a distinct marker. Progress is tracked in relation to how close each phase is to its corresponding milestone, sometimes showing a completion percentage of an ongoing task.
- Dependencies: Arrows or lines are used to denote which tasks are dependent on each other.
- Vertical line markers: Vertical markers indicate the current data of a project on the chart, helping you see where your project is at and how much work is left to do.
- Resources: Some tasks will include resources such as tools, documents, or contacts that are helpful in completing a task.
How to create a Gantt chart
Creating a Gantt chart from scratch requires several steps, from gathering all the different tasks and subtasks to defining dependencies, and creating a horizontal timeline. While this can be done independently, it’s a lot easier to start with the help of a project management platform with built-in Gantt chart views and templates, like monday work management.
How to view your tasks on a Gantt chart with monday work management
monday work management offers over 27 project views to view your tasks, with a Gantt chart being one of them. That means that instead of creating the chart from scratch, all you need to do is create your workboard, including all the parameters you’d like such as columns and automations, and then in a few clicks, you can view it as a Gantt chart. Here’s how it works:
- Make sure your board has a Timeline Column and Dependency Column.
- In the Board View menu, select Gantt
- Your tasks are now organized in one Gantt chart and you can get more creative with on-the-fly edits and cool features like The Gantt Baseline, which allows you to visualize your current project’s progression against the planned timeline
Once your Gantt view is created in monday work management, you can then customize it to your liking. You can add it as a widget to your dashboard so it’s easily accessible, customize which columns from your board appear in your chart, and view items in your chart by group such as project phases. You can also play with visual settings by adding labels or specific colors to items on your chart.
monday work management also allows you to zoom in or out of your Gantt chart by customizing the time frame. For example, you can choose to view your chart in days, weeks, months, years, or quarters, allowing you to zoom in and small tasks and then get a complete project overview in a few clicks.
With monday work management, you get the flexibility in visualizing your work how you want. While tasks start out on a board, you don’t need to go back to the board view from your Gantt chart to continue updating your project. If you prefer working primarily with a Gantt chart, you can update items directly from the Gantt view without toggling back and forth.
The pros and cons of using a Gantt chart in Project Management
There are many reasons why project managers would turn to a Gantt chart for organizing projects. Gantt charts provide teams with a number of benefits that make collaborating on tasks and getting project updates easier. Let’s take a look at a few of the benefits of using a Gantt chart in project management:
- Gantt charts help teams understand a critical path by identifying task dependencies
- Project managers can better allocate resources effectively by viewing the start and end date of each task and identifying conflicts in resources and scheduling
- Gantt charts provide team members with a clear and visual representation of a project and its schedule, helping everyone with project schedule management
- Track the progress of multiple tasks and compare them against the planned schedule to identify potential delays or bottlenecks and improve time management
- Task ownership is more apparent as team members are assigned tasks and know their responsibilities and deadlines
- Project managers can identify potential risks and create measures accordingly by visualizing task dependencies and critical paths
- Gantt charts facilitate communication with team members, clients, and stakeholders and help manage expectations while providing a clear overview of project progress
Drawbacks of Gantt charts
While the benefits of Gantt charts are undeniable, they’re not always the best fit for every team or project. Additionally, Gantt charts also have a few drawbacks that are important to be aware of if you plan on using this format for your project. That said, these drawbacks aren’t dealbreakers in using a Gantt chart, but potential roadblocks that can generally be avoided with proper planning, implementation, and ongoing team communication. Some drawbacks to be aware of include:
- Gantt charts can get complex and challenging when it comes to larger and more detailed projects with many tasks
- Maintaining an up-to-date Gantt chart can be cumbersome and time-consuming when changes arise
- Without careful management of resources, Gantt charts can potentially overload team members with multiple tasks
- Team members who aren’t familiar with Gantt charts may experience a somewhat steep learning curve to be able to fully understand and use them effectively
- Some Gantt charts may not include all necessary information for tasks, such as descriptions or required resources, leading to delays
There are several tools, like monday work management, that allow you to manage projects using Gantt charts that help you avoid these drawbacks through automations, integrated communication tools, and more.
Still, some projects can benefit from different types of visualizations. Gantt charts aren’t the only way to view a project and its tasks, and depending on factors like the size of your team, your timeline, and the nature of your project, you might want to consider a Gantt chart alternative.Get started
Gantt chart alternatives
While Gantt charts can be beneficial for many types of projects, they’re not always the best option for every team. There are many other types of project management charts, boards, and tools, each with a unique approach to project visualization and management. Some popular alternatives include:
- Kanban board: Kanban boards rely on cards to visually represent tasks and columns as stages of a workflow. Team members move the cards from one column to another as tasks progress, providing a clear overview of status and workflow.
- Scrum board: Used in Agile project management, Scrum boards are designed for iterative development. They visualize user tasks in a backlog and display their progress through different stages during each sprint.
- Timeline chart: Project timeline charts provide a simple and linear representation of tasks and events over a set time. While less detailed than Gantt charts, they provide a quick overview of a project’s significant milestones.
- Project checklist: Project checklists are simple, straightforward, and have no learning curve, making them easily adaptable to any team. They can be used on their own or in conjunction with other charts and boards.
Sometimes, it can even be helpful to employ more than one type of view in your project. Platforms like monday work management allow you to choose from over 27 project views, so you’re never limited to just one option and can benefit from each type of project management chart.Get started
Start creating your Gantt chart
To wrap things up, you can see that Gantt charts present a useful way to visualize projects, and with the advent of Gantt chart software, they can take your team’s processes to the next level. However, not all software solutions are created equal.
The most sophisticated solutions, like monday work management, offer advanced features like different chart views, customizable automations, integrations, and the ability to filter the information you included. So if you are looking for a visual solution that can manage projects of all sizes and industries plus a robust Gantt chart, you may find monday.com is just what you’re looking for.
How do you make a Gantt chart in Excel?
To show task progress, you can create a Gantt chart in Excel:
Select the data you want
Click Insert, add a bar chart, then select "stacked bar chart"
You then have to format the stacked bar chart in order to get the Gantt style
The easier option would be to opt for software like monday work management, which has its own Gantt View that you can add to any of your boards.
When should a Gantt chart be used?
Gantt charts are a good choice for planning and scheduling projects that are not short-term. You can use a Gantt chart to map out how long a project will take, evaluate resources needed, and the order of tasks, including any dependencies.
Is a Gantt chart a timeline?
While used for similar functions, the main difference between the two is that a timeline organizes events in a single line and a Gantt chart is two-dimensional and includes details like dependencies. However, they both provide stakeholders with high-level overviews of start and end dates and key milestones in a project.