There are many project management methodologies in use today. All have different ways of managing projects and each fit certain projects based on size or complexity. They use different tools and methods to plan a project and track it during project life cycle. One tool every project manager should use regardless of the methodology used to manage the project, is the Gnatt Chart. When I make the above statement, lots of people jump to correct me that Agile and Lean methods don’t need Gantt charts. Well I beg to differ. Every project including Agile should use a Gantt chart to at least track the progress of their work. Using Kanban board is fine, but to see real time progress and dependencies between tasks you need to use Gantt charts. Why do I say such a thing? because simply put, there is no better tool that exists today that can show the status of a project and its tasks over time graphically like a Gantt Chart if done correctly. In this article I go over the benefits of using Gantt charts for project methodologies as diverse as Waterfall, Agile and Hybrid project management methods.
Gantt Chart benefits:
- Plan and Track– A tool that let’s you to plan and track a project at the same time is invaluable. By design Gantt was created to help plan a project, track its progress and update the plan when changes are needed. It shows critical path which is a great tool for understanding project’s estimated end date. It also shows multiple tasks happening at the same time for the same resource. This information could be used to balance resources in a project.
- Support dependencies– The most critical aspects of getting project planning right is to utilize dependencies and get their relationship right. The graphic nature of Gantt makes it easy to set and monitor dependencies. If a task one dependency or many it really does not matter, all are shown nicely in the graph.
- Clarity– Nothing makes complex issues or process more clear and understandable than a picture. The entire timeline is shown in an single sheet. The start and due dates of tasks are shown perfectly using a time bar. Even the progress of the task could be shown on the bar by showing what percentage of the task is done already.
- Time management– Gantt is a superb scheduling tool. It shows the planned start and end of the project based on how long all tasks in the project will take and their interrelationship. The project manager can experiment with tasks to find the shortest possible end date for the project.
- Keep Everyone on the same page- Gantt absolutely eliminates the confusion that comes when discussing project or task start and due dates. Same chart is shared by all team members and the end goal is clear to everyone. The delivery date is show clearly and with no ambiguity.
- Accountability– In a good Gantt chart software each member’s tasks are shown clearly and the progress of what percentage of a task is completed is marked on the bar and is updated in real time. This bring accountability to the project. All stake holders in the project have access to this chart, so nothing is hidden from anybody.
- Coordination– Gantt makes it easier to coordinate project issues between project manager and other stake holders in the project. It make it easy to see the effect of an event on the whole project and let’s project manager and her team to experiment with different scenarios.
- Flexibility– Software allows to update the chart anytime. If issues arise it is real easy to update the chart. If a task is running late, it effect are shown on the rest of the tasks in the project.
- Helps you get organised– A side benefit of the Gantt is that it helps you the project manager get organized. You need to breakdown the project to small tasks, estimate duration and with the help of the chart figure out how to make the flow smoother and reach the final milestone.
Gantt Chart short coming:
- Could get very complex– The larger the project gets in terms of members, tasks and duration the more complex the chart it gets. Here good software can really help and remove the burden from the team and create the chart automatically.
- The bar does not show effort– The bar in Gantt shows duration and not effort. There is big difference between the two. A task make take a few days to complete not because of the hours of work needed to complete it but other factors like the person assigned on the task can not work on it full time or other factors. Good chart software shows both duration and effort for each task.
- Needs constant updates– True, to keep the Gantt relevant you need to update it every day. Here again software can alleviate this issue. A collaborative project management software will allow all team members to enter their data in the system and the application updates the chart in real time.
Software makes Gantt chart invaluable
Creating Gantt charts by hand is a thankless task. That is why now with availability chart tools and project management software which support Gantt chart, there is no excuse in not using this amazing tool. Advance software makes the chart interactive, easy to change using drag & drop and lets the user select the time scale they want to display the chart. It also let’s the user display only tasks or sub-tasks too. I am not saying Gantt chart is the only tool that should be used for tracking project, but it should be one of the main ones in every project manager’s toolbox.
For more detail about Gantt charts, read introduction to Gantt chart software we wort a while back. It helps the novice users to get deep understanding of this wonderful tool’s capabilities. Binfire has one of the best interactive Gantt charts in the market today. Any change done by a member is displayed in real time to all other members. The user can add dependencies, move a task or change its duration right from the chart. Try the Gantt and everything else Binfire offers for free. Click here for your free trial.