Working on a project and trying to keep it on track? A Gantt chart is right for you. What is a Gantt chart? It's an easy and powerful ways to manage your project
Need to illustrate your schedule and see how items fit together? Try using a Gantt chart.
This tried-and-true chart helps you see what tasks depend on one another so that it goes according to plan.
A Gantt chart example illustrates the interdependencies between tasks. This is a key part of successful project management. Tasks must be planned in parallel to drive completion on time.
In this tutorial, you'll learn what a Gantt chart. You'll also see Gantt chart examples that you can create!
What Is a Gantt Chart (And When Is It the Right Choice?)
Are you asking yourself, “what is a Gantt chart?” In essence, it’s a bar chart. Each bar represents a task within a larger project.
A Gantt chart sits on a two-axis layout. Time is measured horizontally, while the task bars are stacked vertically. The length of the bars indicates how long each task takes.
Gantt chart example layouts also show how tasks connect. The simplest projects may consist of succeeding steps. One task must finish for another to start. But many projects aren’t strictly linear. Tasks often overlap with each other. And some tasks may need prior tasks to complete before they begin.
What is a Gantt chart and why is it important? If you’re managing a project (big or small), they’re vital tools because they help you succeed.
Virtually any project can benefit from their use. Task management is complex by nature, and it pays to have a visual tool to stay focused. Again, a Gantt chart helps explore interdependencies. These can take complex projects and turn them into visuals you can understand at a glance.
A Gantt chart is also perfect for sharing. Most projects involve many stakeholders. Here are Gantt chart collaborative example advantages:
- Share the overall project roadmap and timeline to create buy-in with your stakeholders.
- Each team member can use a Gantt chart to gauge how their personal progress fits into the overall project timeline.
- As a project leader, you can use the Gantt chart to reallocate extra support if you notice a specific task falling behind. Plus, you can quickly realign tasks if you find yourself running ahead of schedule.
It’s easy to see the value of a Gantt chart. They're one of the simplest and best project management tools. Embrace them any time you’re steering a project to completion.
How to Create a Basic Gantt Chart
We’ve defined a Gantt chart and learned how useful they're in project management. Now it’s time to learn how to make a Gantt chart. You’ll find that it’s easy and rewarding. It lays the foundation for a successful project outcome.
What’s more, you don’t need any special Gantt chart software. It’s easy to build a Gantt chart using a tool like Microsoft PowerPoint.
For this tutorial, I’ll use the Gantt Chart PowerPoint Template from Envato Elements. It’s purpose-built for creating your own Gantt charts.
1. Choose a Layout
With the template open in PowerPoint, browse through the slides included. You’ll see an array of layouts. They’re grouped and styled by varying time durations.
The trick is to choose one matching your project’s duration. In this example, let’s consider a project expected to take one month. Slide #6 in the deck is a monthly Gantt chart, so it’s a perfect choice here.
Before you begin building your Gantt chart, spend some time studying how the chart is built. Notice that this one makes full use of color contrasts. Each week has its own color. Similarly, each task has its own color as well. The task bars match the descriptor legend at the bottom of the chart.
2. Update the Task List
Although Gantt charts are visually driven, words are important too. A good way to start is to add in the task descriptions. Here, they're stacked on the far left side of the chart.
There are already words in place, but they’re just placeholders. You can replace each one with your own words. To do so, click into one of the text boxes and select the contents. Then, type in your task description. Repeat down the list, and don’t forget to add a new chart title, too.
As you can see, this lays the foundation for your Gantt chart example. Now, it’s time to focus on the task durations.
3. Shift the Gantt Tasks
Each of the bars you see on the chart represents a given task. To build your own Gantt chart, you need to move them into place to match the duration of their related task. In this template, that’s very easy to do.
Click and drag on one of the task bars to move it around. You can also click and pull on one end of a bar to change the length.
4. Adjust Task Duration
Remember, the length represents your task duration. It’s very likely that you’ll need to adjust from the default. Gantt charts help show interdependencies and how tasks relate to each other. For example, one task may be unable to begin until another completes.
To show this on your Gantt chart example, drag one task bar and place the left side directly below the right side of the preceding task. PowerPoint will display helpful guidelines to help you align the bars exactly.
When you do this, viewers instantly grasp how one task relies on another to begin. You can also overlap tasks that can be performed concurrently.
As you can see, it’s easy to build a Gantt chart example with a PowerPoint template. It’s a quick, easy way to visually map out your project and keep it on track.
Tips for a Better Gantt Chart
We’ve answered the questions “what is a Gantt chart and why is it important?” You’ve seen how useful these are for top-notch project management. But before you get started, it helps to embrace key tips for success.
By making the best Gantt chart possible, you’ll inspire readers to play their part in the project’s success. When you think of how to make a Gantt chart, keep these ideas in mind:
1. Plan Before You Start
The best way to ensure success is to spend some time planning before you start making your Gantt chart. It pays to begin with a task analysis. Start by identifying every task that falls into the scope of your project.
For each task, you’ll need two key pieces of information:
- the start date
- the task duration
Or you may find yourself working backwards. Tasks might have a due (finish) date, and so your start date is dictated by when you need to finish.
When you've got tasks identified and classified, start making the Gantt chart layout. Identify:
- which tasks fit together
- which are interdependent
- which are done together
This is really an exercise in optimization. Building a Gantt chart helps you streamline your project. It shows how to complete the necessary tasks in the shortest timespan possible.
2. Be Detailed (Enough)
Choose the right level of detail. As seen in our template example, you should match your Gantt chart to your project’s duration. For example, don’t build a year-long Gantt chart for a weeklong project. You need a high level of day-by-day detail for short projects with limited task duration.
3. Add Color
Be creative with the use of color. Color adds contrast and helps individual tasks stand out. It enables you to group and classify items by category. This leads to a more visually intuitive layout for your Gantt chart example.
4. Update Often
Keep in mind that your Gantt chart isn’t static. It'll be most useful if it evolves alongside your project. As tasks are completed, or their durations change, adjust your chart accordingly. Think of your Gantt chart as a living document that's updated at each week during a project.
And remember, Gantt charts help drive efficiencies. By analyzing how tasks connect, you can expedite processes. You may identify tasks that can be expedited, combined, or even removed.
As you can see, a Gantt chart is a powerful tool that you should be using to help manage projects. They’re easy to create, and you can do it in just a few quick steps with Microsoft PowerPoint. Next time you’re tasked with completing a project, remember our Gantt chart example. Then, classify and categorize your tasks and get started building a Gantt chart of your own!
The Best Source for Gantt Chart Templates (With Unlimited Use)
Gantt chart software is as easy as adding templates to your favorite presentation app. The best source for top templates for Gantt charts is Envato Elements.
It's easier to learn "what is a Gantt chart?" when you leverage templates. Instead of spending hours drawing them, use a template. You'll get most of the work done for you.
Think of Gantt chart templates as the blueprint for a successful design. An Elements subscription unlocks countless templates with every Gantt element you need.
Need a Gantt chart template and other creative resources? Besides Gantt chart templates, Elements gives you so much more access to the best creative assets.
Web templates, stock photos, graphic assets, and so much more are part of your all-you-can-download subscription. These extra assets can even enhance your Gantt chart!
What Is a Gantt Chart? Now You Know
What is a Gantt chart and why is it important? This article showed you just how to use it to plan your projects. I love Gantt charts because they acknowledge that projects are complex.
You've learned all about how to make a Gantt chart. It's time put it into action! Plan your next project with a Gantt chart approach. You might be surprised by how clear the path forward becomes!
Editorial Note: This content was originally published in 2022. We're sharing it again because our editors have determined that this information is still accurate and relevant.