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Gantt Charts

A Gantt chart is a project and event management tool that assists with the preparation and scheduling of events or projects. It can be useful for projects of any scale, but it’s especially helpful for simplifying large or complicated projects. Project management schedules and assignments are condensed into a horizontal bar chart that displays start and finish times, as well as dependencies, scheduling, and deadlines, as well as the percentage of the job performed at each point, and who the owner of the that task is. Because it’s shown in bar-chart format, it’s a really useful resource to keep track of changes, and especially to show as a visual representation of progress.

Gantt charts allow you to demonstration the working relationship between two or more tasks and how one’s success may depend on another, they can streamline productivity if accompanied by detailed task breakdowns, improve time management, show resource allocations, and improve cohesion; keeping teams figuratively (and literally) on the same page.

You can easily see:

  • A visual display of the whole project
  • Timelines and deadlines of all tasks
  • Phases in a project
  • The links and relationships between the different events

Examples below:

Info you need:

  • The start date of the overall project
  • What the project tasks are
  • Who is working on or responsible for each task
  • When tasks start and finish
  • How long each task will take
  • How tasks group together, overlap and link with each other
  • The finish date of the project

This is not an exhaustive list, you can also add in more granular information if you have the capability to do so. A Gantt chart’s vertical axis represents the tasks that must be performed, while the horizontal axis represents time. When you enter tasks, their start dates, end dates, and dependencies, the bars reflecting task durations will appear. If you use a Gantt preparation application, this happens automatically.

The majority of Gantt diagrams are made in Excel or with project management tools, also known as Gantt map software. You’ll be able to do more than just see assignment durations and due dates if you use Gantt map tools to build Gantt maps. You may use drag and drop to create a work breakdown structure, delegate tasks to team members, monitor progress in real time, and create a work breakdown structure.

Building a Gantt Chart

Step 1: Identify the Most Important Tasks


Gantt maps aren’t too helpful if they don’t provide all of the tasks and pertinent information required to complete a project or process phase.

To start, you should list of all of these event or project phases. If you need to establish what those tasks are, use a work/task breakdown structure. (see example in XX) Then make a list of the earliest start date and approximate length for each task.

Step 2: Make a list of task relationships.


The chart depicts the relationship between project activities. Some tasks must be done before moving on to the next, and others cannot be completed before the ones before them have been finished. If you’re making an event poster, for example, you must finish the template before sending it to print.

These tasks are referred to as “sequential” or “linear” functions.

Other projects would be “parallel,” meaning they can be performed simultaneously with others. You don’t have to complete them in order, but you will need to complete other tasks first. So, for example, you might start designing your flyer before the copy (text) has been finalised, though you won’t be able to finish the design until the text has been finished.

Determine which functions in your project are concurrent and which are sequential. Note the relationships between tasks where they are interdependent. This will help you learn how to plan the project better and will aid you in organising tasks on the map.

There are three major relationships between sequential activities in Gantt charts:

  • Finish to Start (FS) – FS tasks cannot begin before a preceding (and related) task has been completed. (I can’t start X until Y is finished)
  • Start to Start (SS) – SS tasks cannot begin before the preceding task has started, but can run concurrently after it has.  (I can’t start X until Y has been started).
  • Finish to Finish (FF) – FF tasks cannot be completed until the completion of a previous task. They can finish later however, and don’t have to finish simultaneously.  (I can start X, but can’t finish X until Y is completed)
  • Start to Finish (SF) – SF tasks cannot be finished until its preceding task has started. This one is quite rare, but may still crop up in extremely complex projects. (I can’t finish Y until X has started).

Tasks can be sequential and parallel at the same time – for example, two tasks (B and C) might be based on one another (A) and performed at the same time. Task B is both linear and concurrent in nature, since it carries on from Task A.

You don’t necessarily have to label or specify which types of tasks each one is on your Gantt chart, this is just for you to think about how they will link to or depend on each other.

Step 3: Input Activities Into Software Or a Template

You can draw your charts by hand or use specialist software, such as Gantto, Matchware, or Microsoft Project. Some of these tools are cloud-based, meaning that you and your team can access the document simultaneously, from any location. This helps a lot when you’re discussing, optimizing, and reporting on a project.

Several Gantt templates have been created for Microsoft Excel, and you can also find free templates with a quick search online, it is up to you to find or create one that adequately suits your needs, as templates will almost always require some tweaking to use properly.

Step 4: Show Changes and Progress


The project will change as the it progresses. For example, if a venue or vendor pulls out unexpectedly and you need to source a new one, you may need to postpone staff training and update the new information in relevant places before the problem is fixed and the task is classed as finished or resolved.

Changes should be shown in the map as quickly as possible. This will allow you to keep track of your goals, your team, and your sponsors.

Layout

As you will see from the examples, the task bars continue in a downward gradient, meaning that all tasks with dates assigned to them should be inputted in chronological order and not by another category, e.g department or person responsible.

How you assign tasks to team members can be done in a few ways, some like to colour-code the bars to each person and use a key to denote whose colour is whose, others will add in a separate column or use shortened initials to show who owns each task. Often in conjunction, colours can be used instead to denote other categories. Such as types of task, department or importance etc.

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