What is a Gantt chart?

A Gantt chart, commonly used in project management, is one of the most popular and useful ways of showing activities (tasks or events) displayed against time. On the left of the chart is a list of the activities and along the top is a suitable time scale. Each activity is represented by a bar; the position and length of the bar reflects the start date, duration and end date of the activity. This allows you to see at a glance:

  • What the various activities are
  • When each activity begins and ends
  • How long each activity is scheduled to last
  • Where activities overlap with other activities, and by how much
  • The start and end date of the whole project

The History of the GANTT Chart

When the first Gantt chart was devised in the mid-1890s by Karol Adamiecki, then refined some 15 years later by Henry Gantt, they were labouriously hand-drawn. Software has, of course, removed that burden. Below is a simple example of a Gantt chart, produced using Microsoft Project. It shows you what has to be done (the activities) and when they need to be done (the schedule).

IllustrationGANTT 1

Gantt charts are useful during 2 phases of the project management process – the first, shown in the example above, is when the project is in the planning phase, where no actual work has yet been performed. The second is when the project has gone live, and actuals have been recorded against tasks showing their progress.

Managing Projects with GANTT Charts

When a project is live, a Gantt chart has an additional function. It not only shows what tasks have been performed and what’s yet to be done, but will also show you where you are as compared to where you should be. This is shown in the example below.

Illustration GANTT 2

What you can see above is that the first task, Planning, is complete. The baseline, coloured grey, shows the original projection of how long the task should have taken. The blue bar shows how long it actually took to complete. With tasks 2 through 6 now extending past their original baseline, we can see that the project is slipping.


How we can help you

We can show you what a Gantt chart does and how it can help you manage your projects.

We find that many clients are not initally aware of the ways in which a well-constructed Gantt chart can help manage their projects. In fact, it’s often the case that many Microsoft Project users have never seen a correctly-structured Gantt chart – even within companies already using the software.

We’ll be pleased to provide a cost-free demonstration of Microsoft Project and its capabilities. While ProjectTMA is primarily involved in the provision of Microsoft Project training and consulting services, we’re also involved in educating people as to what benefits you can expect so see from this powerful software in the management of projects.


For more information on a cost-free demonstration of Microsoft Project, contact us on 1300 363 822.