Project management is not an easy task. Or should we say tasks? You have to juggle between several responsibilities and team members at once. If you don’t keep your eye on all aspects of the project at all times, you could miss important issues that would affect the final result.
The manager is responsible for distributing a huge number of tasks between team members. However, they must also control their completion and synchronize the stages of the project, so they would come to a harmonious result on time.
Gantt charts are known as one of the most effective tools that support the process of project management. Before you start analyzing the detailed Excel Gantt chart tutorial, let’s start with some basic instructions on how to use this method effectively.
The Basics: What Are Gantt Charts and Why Should You Use Them?
The Gantt chart is a simple, but effective way of displaying tasks (or events) in chronological order. It has a standardized design, which is based on the harmonogram, the visualized workflow system developed by Karol Adamiecki in the late 1800s. Henry Gantt, a mechanical engineer, developed the exact appearance of the chart in the period between 1910 and 1915.
- The activities are listed on the left, along with an adequate time scale.
- Each activity has a corresponding bar, which begins on the start date and extends to indicate the activity’s duration.
Why is this system effective?
- It lists all tasks that should be completed, along with the team members assigned to them.
- It gives you the starting dates and deadlines for each project task.
- All team members get clear guidelines on their responsibilities. When the plan is shared, they see what other team members are doing, so they see how their work fits into the whole picture.
- As a project manager, you get a clear overview of the tasks that you should control. You can ask for updates at the right time, and synchronize the team to work more effectively.
Tips: How to Use Gantt Charts for Successful Project Management
- Understand the Concept
The design of a Gantt chart is simple (as explained above). You can use Excel to create it, but you can also get the official Gantt software (it costs $20 per month for a one-year subscription, but you can get a free 30-day trial to try it out).
Take a good look at the chart’s structure, so you’ll know what elements you need to include in it. Once you’re sure you understand it, you can start planning your project.
- List the Tasks
Start by listing all tasks and activities that have to be completed for this project. You can use a Word document to do this; then you’ll transfer the activities in the Gantt chart.
When adding the activities in the chart, make sure to include the estimated duration, as well as the names of the team members responsible for them.
The process of organizing will take some time. You can do it by chronological order, according to the start dates of different tasks. Some tasks have to be completed before others start. This is why it’s important to understand the relations between different activities.
Some tasks can be parallel. It’s a team project, so the workers will work on different activities at the same time. If you’re able to organize more parallel tasks, you’ll reach closer delivery times for the overall project.
- Use the Chart to Collaborate with Your Team
As long as you make the chart clear and simple, your entire team will happily get on board with it. Allow everyone to ask questions, and be flexible with the activity time frames when possible. Instruct the workers to collaborate with each other on related tasks. If they see that someone is free at the moment, they can ask for assistance.
Monitor the Process!
This concept gives you control over everything that’s going on with the project’s development. Observe the chart on a daily basis, and request updates on the completion of all tasks. Remind your team members about the deadlines, and offer assistance if they cannot handle some of the workload.
As a project manager, you have to be aware of the plan at all times, and adjust the chart as appropriate.