Project managers all over the world use Gantt charts to track task schedules effectively. In fact, this tracking tool is so effective that it is used by multiple other professionals and even individuals looking to better organize their personal lives. If you’ve heard the term and are curious about what it is and how to use it, you’re in luck. Today we’ll take an in-depth look at this powerful tool, explaining exactly what it is and why it’s used. We’ll also list ten Gantt chart template samples to help you get started.
What Is a Gantt Chart?
In its most basic form, a Gantt chart is a tool for tracking the progress of a project. The chart’s vertical axis lists the various tasks that make up a project, and the horizontal axis tracks the duration of each task. Modern Gantt charts also illustrate the dependency relationships between these different tasks. Mechanical engineer and management consultant Henry Gantt created the chart in the early 20th century as a tool for supervisors to know at a glance whether production was on schedule.
Gantt charts were famously used by the United States in planning and tracking activities during World War I and were also employed on major projects such as the Hoover Dam and the U.S. Interstate highway system. Today, they are standard tools in project management and a host of other fields.
Over the years, users have added many new features to the chart’s classic format, customizing them for use in specific fields. Computers and the internet have made them even more effective, adding greater functionality and allowing team members to more easily share and update task progress. Today, multiple Gantt chart template options allow users to customize this tool to track virtually any type of personal or professional project.
Reasons to Use a Gantt Chart
There are so many reasons to download and use a Gantt chart template. They provide valuable insight before you even start a project and function as your day-to-day compass while navigating through it. They continue to have value after a project is finished, helping identify where improvements can be made in future projects. Here are just a few reasons you should use Gantt charts.
Know What You’re Getting Into
When undertaking any kind of new project, one of the first questions is how long it will take. A Gantt chart allows you to plot out each individual task and how long it should take, showing the interdependence of these tasks and how they affect the ultimate project completion date. This is a more accurate way to estimate the duration of a project and getting this right will help with budget planning and prevent overspending.
It’s a Quick Summary
This is one of the key benefits of using a Gantt chart and helps explain why they’re still widely used more than 100 years after being created. Less is more in this case as a simple visual design helps managers quickly see where they stand on a project. By identifying whether a task is falling behind, it’s easy to foresee potential bottlenecks and make corrections before it’s too late.
Effectively Manage Resources
With multiple tasks available at a glance, you’ll more easily spot where you’re falling behind and what consequences it might have down the line. You can then decide if it makes sense to allocate more resources to pick up the pace whether that means extra personnel or capital investment.
Better Team Communication
When operations and management personnel are working from the same roadmap, there’s a much better base for effective communication. Everyone involved has a better understanding of milestones and expectations and can plan their work accordingly. It avoids excuses and increases efficiency, resulting in a much greater probability of delivering the project on time. Also, using a Gantt chart helps all team members spot problems and address them before they become bigger.
Plotting out a project timeline is great, but what happens when things go wrong? All projects big and small have to deal with unforeseen circumstances; a Gantt chart helps you quickly see how the timeline will be affected and make the appropriate adjustments. You can then update the schedule, shift resources, or change the project entirely. Most importantly, you’ll be able to make these decisions rationally.
Generate Useful Reports
As project teams grow in size and complexity, so does the need for tools that can help track progress. When a team or individual is assigned a task as part of a larger project, they typically receive milestones and expectations for how and when to complete it. Sometimes they are given nothing more than a due date, and this can result in an end product that falls short. Modern Gantt chart templates allow the generation of detailed reports along the way, which can help keep operators and managers perfectly in sync on task deliverables.
Take the Stress Out of Stress Management
When managing any sort of project, worry and doubt can cause a great deal of stress. When you’re not exactly sure where you stand, or whether progress is on track, it can be exhausting. A mind under stress makes poor decisions, and this can become a vicious cycle. Using a Gantt chart will remove the doubt, providing a rational look at exactly where things stand.
10 Gantt Chart Template Samples
Event Planner Template
Designed for event managers, this Gantt chart template is a terrific tool for tracking all the unique tasks that go into event organization. It allows you to develop your master plan, highlight the agenda, manage guest and event forms, and more.
Construction Management Template
Successful construction managers have used Gantt charts for years. There are so many costly and time-consuming tasks involved in a construction project, and when one falls behind it can throw the whole project into disarray and end up costing millions. Gantt charts are critical tools in this industry.
Retail Planning Template
When plotting a new retail project, there are many simultaneous concerns. Which goods or services will you offer, and how do they fit into the overall mission? What are the associated costs, and how do they affect the operating budget? Plan all of these steps and track milestones with this Gantt chart template.
Identify your target market, track demographics and selling propositions, and plot your social media strategy. These are fundamental tasks for marketing any brand, and this template allows you to track all of this and more.
Product Launch Template
It almost seems impossible to manage any sort of product launch without using a Gantt chart. Manage the entire launch cycle, from research and budgeting to team building and risk assessment, all the way to prototypes and launch events.
Maintenance Schedule Template
This is a powerful tool for service managers. Stay on top of the various tasks required in maintenance management, from planning long-term agenda to tracking required materials and overseeing risk management. It also helps managers and contractors stay on the same page and communicate more effectively.
Professional consultants have to track so many different processes at once, often for more than one client at a time. Gantt charts are a great solution, providing a quick overview of management and staffing issues, strategic partnerships, and industry analysis. This helps your consulting clients effectively stay on track for success.
Software Development Template
With its multiple complex phases, software development is a prime candidate for a Gantt chart. Managing software development can be very difficult as it relies on so many different processes, and bigger projects often require large teams. This Gantt chart template will help you manage everything from planning and operations all the way to implementation.
Web Design Template
Similar to software development managers, web design managers are tasked with keeping track of multiple simultaneous processes that must come together on time to deliver effective solutions for their clients. Among other features, you can track aesthetics, functionality, and customer response with this template.
All sorts of educational professionals can benefit from this template, from students to teachers and administrators. You can plot unique learning plans and manage tasks between multiple departments, facilitating effective faculty communication.
Today, multiple Gantt chart template options allow users to customize this tool to track virtually any type of personal or professional project. Many professionals use them to track the progress of the tasks required to deliver a project on time and within the allotted budget. Using a Gantt chart is thus vital for effective time management but carries the added benefit of improving team communication. When everyone knows exactly what is expected of them, it is easier to express concerns and manage obstacles in a more healthy fashion.
There are many reasons to use a Gantt chart both in the office and at home. You’ll know what you’re getting into beforehand and be able to more effectively track progress against expectation and budget concerns. Download one of these templates and get to it!