Project Management using Gantt Charts

Gantt Charting is a very popular technique employed by project managers to visualize a project and to convey the concepts in an orderly way. As the diagram is prepared with a flow that is documented at every step, the progress of the project can be traced out clearly. This way, the managers are in a convenient position to design a workable schedule and to implement the project with ease. Gantt charts can be used to extract many other pieces of information. The chart is complex but a very handy tool for many project purposes.

The basic template at the heart of a Gantt chart arranges tasks on a vertical line, usually placed at the left-hand-side in compliance with the standard left-to-right reading convention typical for the western world. Each task is then equipped with a horizontal bar indicating the time accorded to the accomplishment of the task in question. Long bars signify that tasks may take longer; short bars mean that tasks have to be accomplished quickly. The horizontal line of a Gantt chart illustrates the timeline. Bars start at the scheduled starting date of the task and end at its projected ending date.

Color-coding, arrows and “milestone indicators” are many of the features available in the Gantt chart to analyze data recorded and solve complex problems. If the project is large, it can be split into a number of sub-tasks, each fixed with a timeline using the features available. This ensures that each sub-task or task is tracked and completed, till the project completion is achieved on time.

In the early part of the 20th century (circa 1910), Henry Gantt, an American manager and engineer, invented a very popular charting technique and he also worked as a consultant. This technique is mainly using for charting the progress of a project. This charting technique became very popular and it spread quickly to all sorts of project management including business, construction, civil engineering and similar areas. The main purpose of his creation was to keep track of construction projects and ship building projects.

While Henry Gantt usually gets the credit for this type of chart, it has been rumored that a very similar method of charting project progress was developed and used by another engineer toward the end of the 19th Century (circa 1890). Polish born Karol Adamiecki was an engineer in a steelworks where he apparently implemented a similar chart for project management.

It is easy for project managers today to monitor the progress of their project work through computer software like Microsoft Project and Microsoft Visio which helps them to devise and make use of Gantt chart techniques. Like many other programs, these include ready-made templates, which makes the popular simple charting technique available for all type of projects no matter what size the project is.