What is a Gantt chart?
A Gantt chart is a project management tool assisting in the planning and scheduling of projects of all sizes; they are particularly useful for visualising projects. A Gantt chart is defined as a graphical representation of activity against time; it helps project professionals monitor progress.
Gantt charts are essentially task scheduling tools: project management timelines and tasks are converted into horizontal bars (also called Gantt bars) to form a bar chart. These Gantt bars show start and end dates, as well as dependencies, scheduling and deadlines, including how much of the task is completed per stage and who is the task owner. Gantt charts show planned activity against time; they are frequently used throughout projects, programmes and portfolios after tasks have been identified using a work breakdown structure.
A timeline, like the Gantt chart is useful to keep tasks on track when there is a large team and multiple stakeholders. They are a useful time management and progress tracking tool – you can also use Gantt charts to find the longest path from project start to project completion which is known as the critical path.
As it's a bar chart format, it’s possible to check progress with a quick glance. You can easily see:
- a visual display of the whole project
- timelines and deadlines of all tasks
- relationships and dependencies between the various activities
- project phases
Project management solutions that integrate Gantt charts give project managers insights into team workloads, as well as current and future availability, which allows for more accurate scheduling. Gantt charts have been around for nearly a century, having been invented by Henry Gantt, an American mechanical engineer, around 1910.