You might not think of Microsoft PowerPoint as a project management tool, but there's a reason it's constantly used for project updates and by project teams. The ease-of-use and flexibility of PowerPoint make it a mainstay for any project management professional.
When it comes to managing projects, you need tools to make them manageable. That includes process charts to help your team collaborate efficiently. Project management professionals often turn to Gantt charts to visualize the parts of the project.
In this tutorial, you'll learn how to create a Gantt chart in PowerPoint. You'll learn how to use an impressive template to build a Gantt chart that ensures that every member of your project team knows how their part in the project fits into the bigger picture. Let's dive in!
Before we dive into how to create a Gantt chart, l want to let you know about another great resource. We've got a helpful complement to this tutorial. Download our FREE eBook: The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations. Don't miss this great resource!
What's a Gantt Chart?
Imagine you're building something that requires collaboration with others. That could be a website, new product launch, or even starting your own company. Regardless of what you're starting, there are always many moving parts to make it all come together.
It certainly slows you down if you simply wait for one task to complete to start another. Working on multiple tasks simultaneously so that you don't hit show-stopping bottlenecks is crucial for keeping a project on time and on track.
That's where Gantt charts come into play. Gantt charts help you understand not just the list of tasks that need to get done, but the sequence and relation of those tasks. In reality, managing a project of any size comes down to juggling those multiple tasks.
As you can see in the screenshot above, the defining feature of a Gantt chart is that they show multiple tasks running at the same time. You can assign those different lines to different members of a team so that everyone can work on their part of the project without encountering bottlenecks.
Interestingly enough, Gantt charts were first used prominently while the Hoover Dam was being built. With so many people working on the project and so many steps needed to finish, Gantt charts were crucial. Whether you're working on something by yourself or with a team, Gantt charts help keep everything balanced and collaborative.
Project management exists to bring sanity to the execution of big ideas. While small tasks don't require systems, you need a way to organize and strategize your next big project.
Even if you aren't building a major construction project, you'll see examples in this tutorial of how helpful Gantt charts in PowerPoint. And more importantly, you'll learn how to build Gantt charts in PowerPoint so that you don't have to learn yet another piece of project management software.
If you're looking for other illustrative ways to showcase data and process, it might be time to learn a bit about infographics. Thanks to the broad library of templates on Envato Elements, you can build amazing graphics in PowerPoint as you can see in the round-up below:
- Microsoft PowerPoint30 Best Infographic PowerPoint Presentation Templates—With Great PPT Data SlidesSean Hodge
Premium Templates for PowerPoint Gantt Charts
When you know the essential form factor of a Gantt chart, it's possible to create them in Microsoft PowerPoint using shapes and text boxes. But, it's time-consuming, and the result isn't as flexible as it could be.
It's possible to kind of create a Gantt chart using SmartArt in PowerPoint, but it's far from the best method. The ideal approach to creating a Gantt chart in PowerPoint is to start with a pre-made template that you can grab from Envato Elements.
Instead of constantly updating and tweaking those lines and shapes, you can use PowerPoint templates from Elements that are specifically designed with Gantt charts that you need only add your own details to.
If you've not had a chance to check out Envato Elements, it's an all-you-can-download service that every creative should have in their arsenal. Particularly for presentations, there are so many assets and files that you can benefit from and save a ton of money by using.
For a single flat rate monthly fee, you get access to all of the following:
Presentation templates. As you can see in the screenshot above, many templates are far better than PowerPoint's built-in templates, all included as a part of an Elements subscription.
Graphics and icons. Need an illustrative icon or graphic, but can't hire an illustrator? Graphics and icons are included and available for use in your presentation for a single flat rate.
- Stock photos. Stock photography isn't cheap, and sourcing random images from the web carries with it the risk of violating the image's copyright.
There's plenty more included like website templates and video, but these assets are extremely useful if you frequently prepare presentations.
Gantt Chart Templates for PowerPoint
In this tutorial, we're going to use the appropriately named Gantt Chart PowerPoint Template from Envato Elements. This amazing template features 19 different styles and designs, but each of them embodies the usefulness and utility of the Gantt chart.
As you can see in the screenshot below, Gantt charts can take on a variety of styles and designs that you can choose from as a part of the included template.
One more note before we jump into using this template for a Gantt chart: you can also grab premium Gantt PowerPoint templates from GraphicRiver. All of these templates include their own renditions of the Gantt style, but all share in common the ease-of-use and customization.
For other types of presentations, don't miss out on the Envato Market top-selling presentation templates.
How to Build a Gantt Chart in PowerPoint
In this section of the tutorial, we're going to walk through using PowerPoint to build a Gantt chart. We'll take the template I just showed you and customize it to create a project chart for our own scenario.
I'm going to create a fictitious example of a new product to launch for this article. We'll build out a Gantt that walks through every step of a project.
1. Choose a Slide Design
With so many slide designs to choose from, let's start by selecting a slide to use for an example Gantt chart.
For our walk-through, I'm going to use slide design 6, the "Gantt Chart - 1 month", for example. The main reasons I prefer this slide template are:
- For many product sprints, a single month is usually a reasonable amount of time to add a major feature or implement something new. This is a good type of project to test out using a Gantt chart if your team hasn't used them before.
- The slide design also breaks the month down into an easy-to-monitor set of weeks that ensure a project is still on track.
- It's easy to assign tasks to different team members thanks to the variations in color bars.
Now that we've selected the slide design, let's move onto the next step to continue building out the Gantt chart.
2. List all Tasks for the Gantt Chart
Before you start moving around all of the lines on the Gantt chart and trying to estimate how much time each task will take, start by taking inventory of all of the functions that are needed to complete the project.
At this point, don't worry about lining up the tasks on the Gantt. Just make sure you've captured all of the key dates.
By the way, it's important to note that a Gantt chart likely isn't the only tool you use when planning and coordinating a project. Therefore, you don't have to list every detail along the left side of the chart. Keep it high level and bracket the significant tasks on a project, but not the granular detail.
3. Set a Schedule for the Tasks
Now, it's time to start re-positioning the lines on the Gantt chart so that they follow the schedule you've set for the project.
In this step, I simply drag and drop the lines on the Gantt chart to match the calendar dates at the top of the chart. Notice that on the template we chose, there are separate weeks and days. You want the lines next to the project description to align with the time of the month that the task should be completed.
Therefore, you might also need to adjust the size of the line depending on how long a task will take to complete. You can always grab the edge of a rectangle to resize it to match the amount of time a task takes, sizing it to the number of days at the top of the chart.
4. Assign Tasks
Now that we've set up all of the tasks in a Gantt chart, it's time to assign them to teams or specific members of a team. My preferred approach here is to use the key at the bottom to assign tasks to a team or individual, each one of them occupying a separate color.
Remember that if you need to re-assign tasks, you can click on one of the lines and choose a new shape color on the ribbon at the top of PowerPoint. Changing this or the key at the bottom of the chart to show who's on point for a task at any given time.
More importantly, this becomes your document that you can use to monitor the progress of a project. Use this chart to keep an eye for who really has the lead on the project at any given moment.
We've walked through one example of building a Gantt chart, but keep in mind that there are plenty of other styles and designs included with the Gantt template. Each of the 19 slide designs is a different approach to the Gantt chart.
Recap & Keep Learning
In this tutorial, you learned more about the power of Gantt charts and how you can use them to manage a project. More importantly, you can see how easy it is to build one in an app like PowerPoint when you start with a pre-made template.
If you still want to learn more about designing a great looking PowerPoint presentation, I always recommend starting with our top resource, the Ultimate Guide to the Best PPT.
Want to find out more? Learn more creating Gantt charts in other applications, and other charts you can build in PowerPoint, in the round-up of articles below.
- KeynoteHow to Make Flowcharts & Gantt Charts in Keynote With TemplatesAndrew Childress
- Microsoft ExcelHow to Make a Gantt Chart in ExcelBob Flisser
- Microsoft PowerPointHow to Create Organizational Charts in PowerPoint With PPT TemplatesAndrew Childress
Have you ever used a Gantt chart? How do you leverage them to ensure a project stays on track and on time? Let me know in the comments section below if you've got a favorite tip to share.
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