What is a Gantt Chart?
Definition, history & examples to use on 2020

Gantt charts are commonly used for project management. But, do you know why they are called Gantt charts? How to make a Gantt Chart? Where do you find Gantt Chart Templates? Can I create a Gantt Chart in Excel or Google Sheets? Learn all about it here.

When someone mentions Gantt charts, some people might think of old-fashioned spreadsheet-chaos. But they couldn’t be more wrong. Why? Because Gantt charts are great. In this article, you will find a complete guide to understanding the effectiveness of Gantt charts for your projects, regardless of what kind of industry you work in.

Gantt charts are commonly used for tracking project schedules, and they are especially useful in project management. To put it simply, they illustrate and allow you to know what needs to be done, and when it needs to be done. Gantt charts are also able to show you additional information regarding the different tasks or sections of a project, such as how far have tasks progresses, how a group of tasks might depend or other groups of tasks, how important several tasks are, and resources are being used within a project.

One of the great things about Gantt charts is that they are extremely visual. On the left side of a chart, you will find a list of tasks necessary for a project, and on the top, you will find a time scale. Here comes the important part: each task is represented by a bar; its length represents the duration of a task. At the same time, each bar is represented by the title of the activity that needs to be completed, along with any relevant information that will help carry it to completion.

Do you need a Gantt chart?

This is a simple question because all you need to know is whether or not you have a project that needs to be done. If you have a project that you’re working on getting completed, and especially if you’re working with a team of any kind, you need a Gantt chart. In fact, even if you’re working on a project entirely solo you may still need a Gantt chart because it’s going to help you flesh out the project into all the different components. It’s a whole lot more than that, however.

These charts were originally designed to make planning and execution of a project easier, and as they’ve continued to evolve that process has only continued to get easier. You can use a Gantt chart, no matter what type of project you’re working on or just how you’re working on improvements in your business. Creating and executing a project in the right way is going to make a huge difference for you, so make sure that you’re paying attention to all of the different things that your Gantt chart can do. All you need to do is make sure that you’re using the right one and that you’re using it to the fullest extent possible.

If you’re ready to get started or you’re curious a little more about these types of charts and how they can work for you then just keep reading. You’ll learn how to use this type of chart in several different ways, including creating roles and responsibilities, monitoring the progress of a project and even identifying different milestones that need to be completed. No matter what you’re working on or how you’re planning to do it, you’re going to see improvements in the way that your business completes a project when you learn how to utilize Gantt charts.

To summarize, Gantt charts will allow you to:

  • Know what the different activities are
  • When activities need to start, and when they need to finish.
  • How long your activities were primarily scheduled to last.
  • How much your activities cost, and how much your project is likely to cost.
  • Which activities depend on others to be effectively completed.
  • Current progress status.
  • The duration of the entire project.
  • Know who is responsible for each task
  • Find and take care of any problems associated with the project

Where do Gantt charts come from?

In the mid-1890s, Karol Adamiecki, a Polish engineer, was known to utilize the first tool of this kind. However, it was not published until several years later and only in Polish, which limited his authorship and recognition. In fact, he actually called it harmonogram and it took him until 1931 to actually publish his version of the chart. It was only the beginning, however, and the chart that he had at the time was nothing compared to the Gantt charts that we know today.

Next, there was Hermann Schurch, in 1912, who created something similar to Gantt charts for his construction project. Now, these weren’t considered anything special at the time. In Germany, where he was from, they were a relatively common development. Of course, it wasn’t anything like what we have today and it was still relatively simple. There were no interdependencies, for example. Also, they were very static and related to a single, planned schedule.

Around the years 1910 to 1915, it was Henry Gantt, an American engineer, who designed his version of the chart. It was this version that became popular in western countries, hence the name Henry Gantt gaining recognition today for this widely known chart. But even still, with these charts being the foundation of what we use today, they still weren’t anything like the newer versions that we now have. They still had several drawbacks that made them inconvenient for many applications.

Back then, Gantt charts were drawn by hand and difficult to build. Any change could set back hours of work. Because they were hand-drawn, any time a change needed to be made the entire chart would have to be drawn again. Project managers took to creating blank charts and using separate bars and blocks to showcase the bars so that they could be more easily adjusted as needed.

In the 1980s things started to change. With the advent of the personal computer, there was more ability to customize the charts and to create more complex versions. Project managers began using these systems on their own computers to create unique charts that could be adjusted and manipulated in new ways. But it was only 10 years later that the internet once again revolutionized the field of Gantt charts. Suddenly, everyone was using these charts with several different web-based applications.

Today, however, specialized Gantt charts project management tools are here to make people’s lives easier. These charts are great for just about any needs that you may have and they provide you with many customizable options that are unique and perfect for any business that you may have. Whether you’re working on a complex project with a lot of moving parts and a large number of people working on the team or a small project that has a team of less than 10, you’re going to find that a Gantt chart makes the entire process easier.

Gantt charts are also especially wonderful for team collaboration and to have everyone contribute to a project because team members can easily see who is working on what and what needs to be completed next. These charts have grown and evolved in many different ways over the last several decades, and they will continue to grow and evolve in several different ways. That’s because they continue to change in order to reflect the needs of the people who are using them.

The key is to make sure that you’re looking at these charts as a unique method of keeping track of and improving your own project management. Who knows, you could be the one to determine just what it’s going to take to make Gantt charts continue to evolve into something new.

What should I expect from online Gantt chart project management software?

Some of the most important features you should be looking for are:

  • Task and workload management
  • Time and progress tracking
  • Dependencies and milestones
  • Team collaboration

These features allow you the most control over everything related to your business and your specific projects that you’re currently working on. By being able to keep track of tasks and workload you’re going to have a better chance of getting things done quickly and accurately. You’re going to have the ability to keep track of everything that’s going on and you’ll be able to make sure that each task is accounted for. Not only that but you’re also going to see who is in charge of which tasks and whether they have too many tasks or they can keep up. All of these things are going to make it easier for you to stay on top of things.

Next, you’ll be able to keep track of timing and progress that’s being made on different tasks and categories within your overall project. This is going to make it a great deal easier for you to make sure you’ll hit the overall project deadline. The key is to make sure that you have each task assigned with the right deadline and that each of your team members is updating how far along they are on every piece of the tasks that they are assigned to. That way, you and anyone else on the project can log in and immediately see how well you’re doing.

Next, you can keep track of dependencies and milestones. You get to set both of these things so everyone knows how far you want to get and by when. They also know who they are waiting for in order to get different tasks and pieces of the project done before they can get to their own tasks. This allows everyone to see who is responsible for the different parts of the project and it also makes sure that everything is going to get done in the right order.

Finally, you’re going to have the ability to engage in team collaboration with this type of chart. You’ll be able to give everyone a specific location where they can communicate with each other and make comments on different projects or different tasks. All of this is going to allow your team to make sure that they are on the right track and that they understand what everyone else is doing. This is going to make it a great deal easier for you to keep everyone on the same page and will continue to encourage everyone to work together toward their tasks.

If the chart you’re looking at doesn’t take care of all of these things for you then it’s not the right fit for you. After all, you want a system that’s going to make your life easier and take care of making your projects much faster and more efficient to implement. That’s only going to happen if you’re doing everything you possibly can in one place. And that’s only going to happen with the right software. Don’t settle for something that just can’t get all of the work done for you. Especially when there’s something out there that can.

The good news is, a tool like Instagantt would be the perfect need for your online Gantt chart building needs. Why? Because you get it all in one place! Instagantt will allow you to manage your resources, your workload schedule, your budget, and most importantly, your team.

Setting Up a Gantt Chart

When you’re ready to set up the Gantt chart that you will use in your business you get to customize everything that you want. You get to make all of the rules and then you get to make sure that everything in the chart is going to be simple for you and your team to understand and follow along with. By customizing the chart you make it a whole lot easier for your team, which makes it far different from the chaotic systems of the past.

You start your Gantt chart by creating the project that you want to execute. You get to name it and set the ultimate date when it needs to be completed. Then, you start creating different activities or tasks that need to be accomplished in order to actually achieve success in the project. So, you would take the ultimate project and break it down into smaller steps. Each of those steps would be broken down again and again until you have every task necessary to accomplish your goal and complete the project. Generally, this is going to require steps and then sub-steps and possibly even further sub-sub-steps (or more).

After you’ve created each of the tasks you can set deadlines for each one. You’ll be able to choose which tasks are going to take how much time and that’s going to affect the length of the bars that are on your Gantt chart. From there, you can choose things like dependencies. If you have specific tasks that must be completed before the next one can be completed you can set it up in your chart. This allows anyone who has a task to complete to see exactly what they need to do or what needs to be done before they can get to their task.

Of course, that means you’re going to need to assign each of the tasks on your chart. You get to choose who the people are that make up your team and then you can decide which of those people are assigned to each of the tasks that you’ve created. Because you have everything fleshed out and you have the deadlines already set you’re going to have no problem assigning each item to the people who can take care of it best. After all, you’re going to want the best people for each job.

With a Gantt chart, the big benefit is that once you’ve assigned everything and everyone knows what they’re doing you’re going to have no problem keeping track of everything. You can actually give everyone access to the chart so they can continuously check in with everything that needs to be done. They’ll be able to see which tasks have been completed and which ones still need to be done. They’ll also be able to mark how their own tasks are going as well as how far they’ve come toward completing those tasks.
If they need more assistance from someone else this system allows them to communicate with others right there. So there’s no need for additional meetings or for trying to get in touch with someone via email. All communication can be held right in the system, which is going to make everything a whole lot easier, keep everyone accountable, and keep all correspondence in one, central location. That’s going to make it a whole lot easier for you and your team to get the job done and make sure that it’s done the right way. And you’re not going to get all of these things anywhere but with Instagantt.

Even more, you’re going to have the ability to track the cost of each of the steps and sub-steps associated with your project and the project as a whole. Each person on your team is going to have the ability to collaborate on this process and you can make sure that you have an accurate accounting of everything that’s going on with the project. That way, you can make sure that you’re billing everything accurately and making sure that everyone is being paid the way that they should be. And everything can be done right in the software system itself, so there’s no need for external software.

Gantt Chart Templates

A Gantt Chart Template gives you a good starting point so you don’t get too confused and without ideas. When you’re staring at a completely blank sheet it can feel a little bit overwhelming. You write out the project that you need to track and then … you don’t know what to write next. Maybe you’re not quite sure you even remember all of the different tasks that need to be performed for that project. Having a template gives you an excellent starting place of tasks that you might have and you can springboard your own tasks off of those. So using Instagantt, you can choose between dozens of Gantt Chart Templates

Our Gantt chart software is great for project managers, marketing professionals, social media and community managers, website designers, customer sucess teams, software developers, sales team, wedding planners, construction teams, human resources team, video producers, you name it! We’ve built our software thinking of the features will undoubtedly need when successfully running a project from start to finish. So give it a try, now!

If you are looking for recognized brands, you can use our Free Gantt Chart template for Excel or our Free Gantt Chart template for Google Sheets

Want to discover more?

Try Instagantt  for free for your remote team
Get started for free