How should you create a Gantt Chart

A Gantt chart is the best known simple tool used in project management; beginners tend to develop the Gantt chart too simplistically; by adopting some project management “techniques” we can develop a more robust and meaningful Gantt chart for project planning purposes.

In order to develop an effective Gantt chart, you should first develop a WBS to identify and break downing the scope of work, until the identification of the so called “work packages” (WP), which are manageable entities, as they can easily planned, associated to specific deliverable(s) and assigned to a unique responsibility; the WP can become the single activities of your Gantt Chart, even if a WP may contain further detailed tasks.

Once you have identified the single activities of your Programme (Schedule) you may list them. Then, you need to estimate the expected duration of each activity, a start date and a finish date. You can prepare this on a table (Excel) and, finally, transferring it on the Gantt chart. There are many predefined templates developed for Excel, in case you don’t want use a Schedule software, but you should definitely use it, at least for professional applications.

In the figure above, there are shown also “milestones”, on the top rows of the chart. The “red flags” are key dates that must be achieved in the project execution (other terms are into Italian language, but the scheme is pretty clear).

As you probably know, the Gantt chart can be developed when you have a clear understanding of the process, i. e. the sequence of the work that must be carried out.

Gantt chart should be linked to CPM

However, be aware that Gantt chart doesn’t show clearly the “logic”, neither the sequence of the activities. By using only a Gantt chart, you will not be able to analyze the “critical path”. On the converse, if you first develop the “logic network“, which represents the “process “to be followed in execution the project, you will get a much robust Gantt chart, on the base of a clear sequenced process; in fact, planning and scheduling are two separate processes (see figure below).

In conclusions, the most effective way to develop a Gantt chart is starting from process, by building a logic network, then you can produce the Gantt chart (see figure above); obviously, a software tool will give you a tangible advantage, see the figure below:

If you are not familiar with planning and scheduling techniques, it would be appropriate following a basic course or studying the topic. There are few key concepts, not particularly difficult like the critical path method (CPM), that must be understood in order to develop plans and related schedules.

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