Gantt chart is a must-have in a project team but not a good way to showcase the team’s progress to the stakeholders. Do you know that you can create it without owning an MS Project? In this article Elizabeth Harrin shares how to create a Gantt chart, what to include in it, and how to work with it.
Working with a Gantt Chart
Gantt chart helps in to visualize the tasks assigned, the work in the pipeline, and early warning signs of a project scope creep.
Software Tools to Use:
- Office Timeline: A free plugin of MS PowerPoint, Office Timeline allows you to create a Gantt chart. You can set dates and milestones, but you can show the work progress with the paid version only.
- MS Excel: Excel does not have a plugin, but you can create one on your own from the scratch. Teams that have a low level of project management maturity, Excel’s Gantt chart is the easy way to go.
- Vizzlo: The web-based business graphics tool comes with templates. It is basically used for creating charts and graphs. You can present project progress with Harvey balls or show phased timelines.
What to Include:
- Name of the Task: Add the name of the task your team is going to work on.
- Length of the Task: Task lengths tell you the amount of time a project resource is going to work on it. If it is too long, you can decide to divide it among more team members.
- Task Hierarchy: A task can be further divided into children tasks in a Gantt chart.
- Dependencies: Gantt charts usually show task dependencies with black arrows. If you have too many task dependencies, it can be cumbersome. The author suggests avoiding displaying that for presentations.
- Milestones: These appear as black diamonds on the chart. Put them where necessary to understand how much the team has achieved in the project.
Easy Working Tips:
- Task List: Sit down with your team to discuss the work breakdown structure and include that in the chart.
- Related Tasks: Figure out the tasks that you need to do on priority and arrange the tasks accordingly. This prevents your team from wasting valuable manhours wondering what is in the pipeline.
- Number of Milestones: Have one milestone per month and more if you require to. These showcase a deadline within which the team must complete an assignment for review or delivery.
- Coloring the Assignments: Use colors for different tasks, owners, importance or urgency levels. Explain the team what each color signifies and display that on the blank side of the chart for easy recollection.
- Resource Assignment: Having your name on a chart increases engagement. It also saves you from checking your work calendar to know who was supposed to complete what work.
- Do Not Print: Since you are upgrading it constantly, it makes no sense to print it out. Display it on the presentation board from the projector during meetings.
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