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May 17, 2023

What is a Gantt Chart?

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“Gantt” manage all the moving parts in your project? Sorry. We just had to do that. But the truth is, project management does have a lot of moving parts. It’s both complex and challenging, requiring careful planning and execution. With deadlines and dependencies, milestones and tasks, it can be easy for a project to feel chaotic and overwhelming. A Gantt chart can help you take control and achieve clarity.

What is a Gantt Chart?

A Gantt chart is a tool used in project management to visualize the timeline and schedule of a project, including its start and end dates, milestones, and dependencies. Gantt charts are widely used by project leaders because they are simple, easy to understand, and provide a powerful tool for planning, scheduling, and tracking projects.

How Gantt Charts Work

Gantt charts work by displaying a project’s milestones and tasks in a timeline format. Each task is represented by a horizontal bar on the chart, with the length of the bar indicating the duration of the task. The bars are arranged in chronological order, with the earliest task at the top of the chart and the latest task at the bottom. 

Project leaders identify any dependencies that exist, and these are represented in the timeline as well. Gantt charts indicate dependencies between tasks by connecting the bars with arrows, showing that one task must be completed before the next can begin.

Visualization of the Project Schedule 

As we discussed above, the Gantt chart consists of several parts that provide important information about a project’s (or multiple projects’) timeline and progress. Here are the different visual elements of a Gantt chart:

Task or Activity List This is the list of all the tasks or activities that need to be completed to accomplish the project. It is usually located on the left side of the Gantt chart and organized in a hierarchical manner.

Timeline The timeline is located on the top of the Gantt chart and shows the duration of the project. It is usually displayed in weeks or months, depending on the project's scope and complexity.

Bars The bars are the main visual component of the Gantt chart. They represent the start and end dates of each task or activity in the project. The length of the bars indicates the duration of each task, and their position on the timeline shows when the task will start and end.  

Milestones Milestones are significant events or achievements in the project, such as the completion of a phase or the delivery of a product. They are usually marked with a diamond on the Gantt chart.

Dependencies Dependencies represent the relationships between tasks or activities in the project. They indicate which tasks need to be completed before others can start or finish. Dependencies are usually represented by arrows between the bars.

Critical Path The critical path is the sequence of tasks or activities that must be completed on time for the project to finish on schedule. It is usually identified on the Gantt chart by highlighting the tasks or activities that are on the critical path through linking dependent tasks. If one task changes duration or dates, tasks that are linked downstream in the project are also impacted.

What Gantt Charts Do in Project Management: A View of both the Parts and the Whole

Gantt charts are an effective tool in project management because they allow project leaders to see the overall picture of the project while also helping them to track the details.

Those horizontal lines give both managers and leadership a quick view into the work being done and the time it will take. By including a visual representation of all the dependencies, teams can more easily spot potential issues. 

Gantt charts allow managers to adjust the schedule and see the impacts of those adjustments. Visual cues for areas where there are issues, such as late tasks and impacted dependencies, help manage risks and avoid costly mistakes.

The best Gantt charts allow project leaders to track initiatives along with all its tasks and their dependencies in real time.

Gantt Make these Mistakes...

While Gantt charts can be a valuable tool for project management, there are some common mistakes to avoid. These include:

  1. Overcomplicating the Chart: It's important to keep the Gantt chart as simple and easy to read as possible. Overcomplicating the chart with too many or can make it difficult to understand and use effectively. 
  2. Failing to Update the Chart: The Gantt chart is only useful if it accurately reflects the current project schedule and tasks. 
  3. Ignoring Dependencies: Dependencies between tasks are a key element of the Gantt chart. Ignoring dependencies or failing to update them can lead to delays and missed deadlines.
  4. Not Including Milestones: Milestones are important events or deliverables that mark key points in the project schedule. Failing to include milestones in the Gantt chart can make it difficult to track progress and communicate status updates as they relate to important events or outputs.
  5. Not Communicating Changes: Even smaller tasks that cause changes to the project schedule can have a significant impact downstream. Failing to communicate changes to team members and stakeholders can lead to misunderstandings and delays.

All of the mistakes listed above can be avoided if team members use gantt charts that are fully integrated with a solid project management tool. Such a tool will provide an easy-to-use format, help managers mind the dependencies, track milestones and tasks in real time, and communicate updates and issues effectively through visual cues, automations, and reports.

Hint: DevStride is this kind of tool…

The DevStride Difference - we gantt wait to tell you!

DevStride’s new Gantt feature is so exciting that we gantt wait to tell you more about it! Here are just a few of the capabilities you can expect. Our Gantt chart feature:

  • allows items to adopt a hybrid workstyle that combines the best of waterfall and agile, all in one tool. 
  • provides an easy way to pull in the projects you want to see on the gantt charts. It’s as easy as drag and drop.
  • allows you to map dependencies across multiple teams, boards, and workstreams. From a single project to projects across an entire organization, what you view and manage in a gantt chart is up to you.
  • can be expanded or collapsed easily to display your preferred level of detail. This provides teams an uncomplicated way to manage project information.
  • supports both a strict mode and free mode that gives you the choice to auto sync downstream date dependencies.
  • allows customization of bar color to give you the ability to control how chart information is displayed
  • is fully integrated with all the capabilities of our project and portfolio management solution, allowing you to enjoy all the features DevStride provides and the real-time information you need.

About DevStride

DevStride stands apart as a modern project and portfolio management tool that delivers unprecedented collaboration, planning, execution, and analysis tools to complex teams. Large organizations have to coordinate work with many teams at once, and DevStride provides a seamless experience that breaks down project silos to drive coherent value delivery across a portfolio of work. When two or more teams need to collaborate to reach a goal, DevStride is there. 

DevStride offers strategic project and portfolio mapping, visual boards and tools to track work progress, decision support, and flexible ease-of-use. 

Here are just a few of the key ways DevStride’s powerful solution can help you in your project and portfolio management goals:

Project Management savvy - Purpose built for agile project and portfolio management by agile practitioners who have lived it. DevStride supports Scrum, SAFe, Kanban, as well as traditional project management, and more. DevStride delivers the approach every team needs across the organization, regardless of the framework they use.

Workstream mapping to strategic goals and objectives - ensures work is focused on the right projects and is aligned with goals.

Visual boards and indicators - display throughout the tool for ease of use and information at-a-glance, including priorities, progress, completion rates, and status. 

Collaborative workspaces - support collaboration through common workspaces, breaking silos and promoting cohesion. 

Advanced filtering and reporting - DevStride gives instant access to status and multidimensional data up and down the portfolio of projects. Its flexible custom fields and tags allow team members to track risks, bugs, ratings, priorities and any other relevant information, providing an easy way to search, sort, and report on any data, any time. Reports include burn up, burn down, velocity, progress, throughput, cumulative flow, churn, and more.

Prioritization and sizing - planned work and backlogs are clear and easy to manage through priority fields, tags, Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) estimation capabilities, T-Shirt sizing, story points, and more.

Dynamic roadmapping - provides an easy way to manage story and epics for release tracking.

Workflow automations - allow users to make use of easy, customizable event and criteria-based triggers to notify owners, promote task management, monitor for potential issues, and stay informed.

Work in Progress (WIP) limiters - manage the risk of task overload and potential delays.

Rich Analytics - DevStride reports and analytics provide a powerful and effective way to identify potential issues before they become problems. Beyond raw data, DevStride tightens feedback loops and provides deep insights to make the kind of informed decisions leaders and teams need.

Meaningful AI, today - DevStride supports the ability to easily generate workstreams, tasks, and even relevant content through impressive artificial intelligence capabilities.

If you need access to a modern project and portfolio management tool that can help you plan and control your projects, then schedule an introductory call with us today

Tired of guessing, failing, and losing time to rework? Contact DevStride. www.Devstride.com 

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