Using Gantt charts in a proper way can make the process of project planning and implementation quite easier. Before you begin to use online Gantt charts for planning your next project, here are a few tips you must consider.
Know the Project Purpose
Before you create a Gantt chart, first find out whether you need it for a project or a process. The reason is simple. A flowchart is a better alternative to diagram a process than a Gantt chart. That’s why it is important to determine the ultimate goal of the project before you begin planning for it.
Define the Timelines
Once you are done with the determination of project goals then next is to figure out how you can set the project timelines for the entire duration of the project. This should include the start date, end date along with the duration required to complete the project. If you are using a spreadsheet for the same then you would need a calendar as well. But if you want to automate things then using online Gantt charts would be a good idea. Also, this will help you keep in consideration weekends and holidays and avoid scheduling deadlines on the same. Another advantage would be saving of a lot of time and avoidance of big blunders at work.
Know the Inside Out of Project
To simplify the process of project planning, the best thing is to divide the project into small manageable components. The idea is to break the tasks into subtasks and so on till you can find out straightforward tasks which are easier to implement and consume less time. You can use Gantt chart table for a hierarchical list of work divisions which has tasks and subtasks and accurate timeframes to achieve them.
Create Progress Bar for Each Task
So, the timeline is set and the project has been divided into tasks, the next crucial step is to create a progress bar for every task. A progress bar is nothing but a horizontal bar which is in line with a particular task name and begins beneath its start date and ends beneath the end date. Make sure you do this for every task. Also, some of them may overlap which means two or more tasks occurring at the same time.
Define the Longest Path
The longest path or the critical path is about looking at all of the activities in the Gantt chart in way that you take into account the timing and dependent relationships. This helps you to determine critical steps which you cannot afford to risk else they would lead to delay in your project. In order to define the critical path, you can use lines to connect one task to another in case they are inter-dependent.
It is important to set milestones in every project as completing them keeps the sense of achievement alive in your team. Therefore, represent the milestones using a symbol that provides clarity to you and your team.
I hope the above points will help you in planning for your next project in a better way using Gantt charts. If there are any other tips you would like to share, feel free to quote them in the comments below.
Sharon Thomson is a project management expert and writer. Through the years she has written about a myriad of project management topics and has successfully managed countless projects on her own. A big believer in ‘work smarter, not harder’ philosophy; Sharon keeps including her own personal lessons in her writing from time to time.