The Ultimate Guide to Gantt Charts - (2023)

What is a Gantt Chart?

What is a Gantt Chart and why is it important? A Gantt Chart is the most important tool used in Project Management and is one of the most popular and useful ways of showing activities (tasks or events) displayed against time.
In simple words, a Gantt chart is a visual view of tasks scheduled over time.

A Gantt chart is constructed with a horizontal axis representing the total time span of the project, broken down into increments (for example, days, weeks, or months) and a vertical axis representing the tasks that make up the project.

The Ultimate Guide to Gantt Charts - (1)

The above image is an example of a Gantt chartcreated to plan the construction of a villa.
On the left side of the gantt chart, you’ll find a list of project tasks and milestones and on the top right you will see the calendar timeline.

The above example is an actual screenshot of Gantt Excel. It’s the most intuitive and easy way to build a gantt chart quickly, right within Excel.

A Gantt chart represents projects or tasks in the form of cascading horizontal bar charts. It illustrates the breakdown structure of the project by showing the start and finish dates as well as various relationships between project activities, and in this way helps you track the tasks against their scheduled time or predefined milestones.

In the simplest terms, a Gantt Chart is nothing but a timetable or a timeline that is useful for planning and scheduling projects. Lets explore this in detail:

Gantt charts make it easy to understand the steps required for a project, thus enhancing organization and improving the chances of success.

One of the biggest benefits of a Gantt chart is the tool’s ability to boil down multiple tasks and timelines into a single document. Stakeholders throughout an organization can easily understand where teams are in a process while grasping the ways in which independent elements come together toward project completion.

Today, Gantt charts are commonly used for tracking project schedules. They help to show additional information about the various tasks or phases of the project, for example how the tasks relate to each other, how far each task has progressed, what resources are being used for each task and so on.

Gantt Charts convey very useful information at a glance

Gantt Charts convey very useful information at a glance

  • When is the project starting?
  • What the various tasks/ activities are?
  • When each task or activity begins and ends?
  • How long is each task planned to last?
  • Who is working on the task?
  • Which tasks overlap with other tasks, and by how much?
  • The estimated and baseline budget for the project
  • The estimated, baseline and actual costs for the project
  • Project Milestones
  • The final finish date of the project
(Video) The Ultimate Guide to Gantt Charts (Timelines) in Think Cell

The first Gantt chart was created and devised in the mid 1896 by a Polish engineer namedKarol Adamiecki. He was a Polish engineer and ran a steelworks in southern Poland. Karol had become interested in management ideas and he developed techniques to display processes visually so that he could make it easier to see production timelines. He called his work the Harmonogram and published his articles in Russian and Polish but the English-speaking world didn’t know much about his work.

Some 15 years after Adamiecki created the Harmonogram, Henry Gantt, an American engineer and management consultant, had the same idea and devised his own version of the gantt chart. In 1910, Henry Gantt started planning schedules with bar charts which allowed allowed his supervisors in the steel works to see if productions was on track or behind schedule. It was this planning chart that became widely known and popular in western countries. Consequently, it was Gantt’s name that became associated with charts of this type.

The Ultimate Guide to Gantt Charts - (2)

Originally Gantt charts were prepared laboriously by hand. Each time a project changed it was necessary to amend or redraw the chart and this limited their usefulness, the continual change being a feature of most projects.

Most people used to plan on paper (imagine that!) or with colored blocks. For eg. Magnetic blocks and Legos™ were commonly used to plan projects prior to the advent of Gantt chart software. Nowadays, however, with the advent of Gantt Chart Templates and an array of online tools, Gantt charts can be created and updated easily.

The Ultimate Guide to Gantt Charts - (3)

Gantt Chart Softwares

Once the era of computers set in, project managers found they could save time in creating and updating their Gantt charts. Gantt chart software, also called project management, project planning, or project scheduling software was created to automate the process to support more advanced Gantt requirements like creating task dependencies, adding milestones or identifying the critical path of a project.

Nowadays Gantt Chart software fall into two broad categories:

Desktop Programs

  1. Microsoft Project
    Microsoft Project is the world’s most popular project management software developed and sold by Microsoft. Microsoft project released its first version over 30 years ago and is one of the most used tools by Project Managers. However, the software has a few drawbacks as it is too advanced for beginners and there’s quite a learning curve to master the software. While it has a lot of advanced features it also has a wide range of unused and pointless features as well. Added to this is the pricing, it is one of the most expensive project management software out there.
  2. Gantt Excel
    Gantt Excel is one of the best and easiest tools to create Gantt Charts. Everyone pretty much has a copy of Microsoft Excel on their computers and almost everyone is pretty familiar with the most loved version of spreadsheets.
    Gantt Chart Excel is a robust completely automated and feature-rich software that’s a breeze to use. It is loaded with helpful features, without being bloated with unnecessary bells and whistles. Highly recommend this to new and experienced project managers as well.

Online Tools
Many project managers traditionally used local desktop programs like Microsoft Project—and many still do. But today, Gantt chart software has moved online, enabling anyone to create simple Gantt charts and projects plans. However most are not secure and there are huge risks of project data security.

Gantt Chart Software Features

(Video) How to Make a Gantt Chart in Excel - Step by Step Tutorial - Gantt Chart Excel

Here are some of the key features that you will need to get the most out of your Gantt software.

Task and Milestone Dependencies

The Ultimate Guide to Gantt Charts - (8)

Why Use Gantt Charts to Plan Projects?

To successfully complete a project, you must control a large number of tasks and ensure that they’re completed on schedule. If you miss a deadline there could be drastic effects on the rest of the project. This may result in project delays and cost a lot more. That’s why it’s helpful to be able to see everything that needs to be done, and know, at a glance, when each activity needs to be completed.

Gantt charts convey this information visually. They outline all of the tasks involved in a project, and their order, shown against a timescale. This gives you an instant overview of a project, its associated tasks and milestones, and when these need to be finished.

When you set up a Gantt chart, you need to think through all of the tasks and milestones involved in your project. As part of this process, you’ll work out who will be responsible for each task, how long each task will take, and what problems your team may encounter.

This detailed thinking helps you ensure that the schedule is workable, that the right people are assigned to each task, and that you have workarounds for potential problems before you start.

They also help you work out practical aspects of a project, such as the minimum time it will take to deliver, and which tasks need to be completed before others can start. Plus, you can use them to identify the critical path – the sequence of tasks that must individually be completed on time if the whole project is to deliver on time.

Finally, you can use them to keep your team and your sponsors informed of progress. Simply update the chart to show schedule changes and their implications, or use it to communicate that key tasks have been completed.

(Video) How to Make a Gantt Chart in Excel

Who Uses a Gantt Chart?

Today, nearly everyone uses a Gantt chart to help them visualize their projects and tasks. All the difficult calculations are now done by computer algorithms, so anyone can just create a simple task list, add start and end dates, and the gantt chart software does the work instantly of displaying your tasks over time.

Gantt Chart Users by Role

Gantt charts are effective project management tools for these roles:

  • CEOs & CTOs
  • General Managers
  • Project Managers
  • Team Leaders
  • Operations Managers
  • Scheduling managers
  • Work Managers
  • Marketing Managers
  • … and literally, anyone who wants an instant snapshot of a project timeline.

Gantt charts used to be the exclusive tool of formally trained project managers. These were people planning long-range projects of all different types: manufacturing, construction, engineering, military, IT and more. Creating long task lists, dependencies and complex schedules with lots of moving parts, required training in the art and science of task estimation, planning dependencies and so on.

While still considered the domain of project managers, today with the wide range of project management and Gantt chart software tools, anyone might be found to be using Gantt charts.

Gantt Chart Users by Team

With the advent of collaborative Gantt chart applications like Gantt Chart Excel, more and more teams use Gantt Charts to plan and track all kinds of work together. Gantt charts can be used by all kinds of teams, such as:

  • Project Management Teams
  • PMOs
  • IT & Dev Teams
  • Marketing Teams
  • Professional Services Teams
  • Engineering & Architectural Teams
  • Construction Teams
  • Public Works Teams
  • Manufacturing Teams
  • Product Development Teams
  • Remote Teams
  • Government Teams
  • Telecommunications Teams
  • Healthcare Teams
  • Software Development Teams
  • Oil & Gas Industry teams

The trend earlier was to have a single project manager leading a single team for a single project, but now, many people across the organization manage projects with multiple teams of people.

Nowadays, teams are required to plan tasks/ activities and manage resources in multiple projects across different teams. It’s vital to ensure that the Gantt chart tools you choose can support task and resource management effectively to ensure that your project is completed successfully.

Create a Gantt Chart

If you useMicrosoft Excel, you can create a Gantt Chart/ Project Timeline/ Schedule with almost no learning curve by downloading our Gantt Chart Excel Template. Excel is widely used everywhere, so everyone on your team “gets it” and hits the ground running. Our Gantt Chart template is completely automated, and it is super easy to use.Downloadit now, and you’ll have a professional-looking Gantt chart in minutes.

Once you’ve downloaded our template, follow these critical steps.

Step 1: Identify Essential Tasks

Gantt charts are not useful unless they include all of the tasks/ milestones needed for a project or project phase to be completed.
So, to begin, list all of the activities as tasks. Use a work breakdown structure if you need to establish what the tasks are.
Then, for each task, set start date and its estimated duration. The end date will be automatically calculated for you based on the workdays and holidays that you have set.

Step 2: PlanMilestones

Life is full of milestones – and so are projects. When planning a project, it is vital to mark all critical dates along the way. Milestones help your team stay on track and achieving the milestone dates keeps ensures that your project is on schedule.

Incorporating milestones in your gantt chart helps you and your team keep sight of:

  • Key Dates – Launch parties, board meetings, product rollouts, program kickoff, and other key dates mark significant milestones in your project. It’s also helpful to include other one-day events unrelated to your project specifically that are still important for your team to keep in mind – like a group offsite or team holiday.
  • Key Deadlines – Key deadlines are essential to surface on large project plans so your team can easily see what’s coming up and plan accordingly. For example, the date that website development is completed or product release dates.

Use key deadlines as milestones to reflect when a key task is completed.

  • External Dates and Deliveries– For example, a due date for a deliverable you are expecting from an agency, the date when your product is scheduled to be delivered. These key events can affect when other tasks in your project are allowed to start. They may also be used as predecessors in your plan.

Step 3: Chart Progress

As your project moves along, it will evolve. For example, in our scenario, if quality assurance of core material revealed a problem, then you may need to delay production until the issue is resolved.

Update your chart to reflect changes as soon as they occur. This will help you to keep your plans and the stakeholders up to date.

(Video) Gantt Chart Excel Tutorial - How to make a Basic Gantt Chart in Microsoft Excel 2013

Gantt Excel - Free Gantt Chart Excel Template

Create Professional-looking Gantt Charts in Excel

Gantt Chart Excel Template is completely automated and is super easy to use.
If you useMicrosoft Excel, you can create a Gantt Chart with almost no learning curve by downloading Gantt Excel.
Microsoft Excel is instantly familiar, so everyone on your team “gets it” and hits the ground running.

Gantt Excelgives you the ability to see every step of your project from beginning to end.
Our Gantt Chart Excel software lets you visualize every project step. You can create tasks and link them using dependencies, and then track their progress against deadlines and milestones.

Gantt Charts Made Super Easy

Manage your project timeline, tasks and workload like a Pro.


Which Microsoft program is best for Gantt chart? ›

Professionals who use Microsoft Excel to keep track of their tasks or activities can use the tool's Bar Chart feature to convert their data table into a Gantt.

Does Office 365 have a Gantt chart? ›

With Microsoft Office 365 Gantt Chart App, you can have all tasks and subtasks in a single view, easily create and complete tasks, assign resources, and edit timeframes and completion percentages with just a few clicks.

Is Gantt chart free? ›

Office Timeline

This tool is a free online Gantt chart tool that helps create visual project timelines and charts for your presentation slides.

Can you make a Gantt chart in Word? ›

Go to the Insert tab and select Chart from the Illustration section. In the All Charts window that pops up, select the Bar category and choose Stacked Bar as the type of graphic to use for your Gantt chart.

Is Excel Good for Gantt charts? ›

Regrettably, Microsoft Excel does not have a built-in Gantt chart template as an option. However, you can quickly create a Gantt chart in Excel by using the bar graph functionality and a bit of formatting.

Can I use Excel for Gantt chart? ›

A Gantt chart helps you schedule your project tasks and then helps you track your progress. If your data's in a continuous range of cells, select any cell in that range to include all the data in that range.

Do companies use Gantt charts? ›

Gantt charts are used by project managers, business owners, team leaders, and executives in many different industries across various departments. Here are just a few types of companies and teams that use gantt charts to plan, schedule, and execute their projects: Construction.

Does Google have a Gantt chart app? ›

Google Gantt charts illustrate the start, end, and duration of tasks within a project, as well as any dependencies a task may have. Google Gantt charts are rendered in the browser using SVG. Like all Google charts, Gantt charts display tooltips when the user hovers over the data.

Do people still use Gantt charts? ›

Gantt charts are still very popular in the project management fraternity because of their visualization and tracking capabilities.

Is Gantt chart difficult? ›

Here are some of the main challenges of Gantt charts: Setup Can Be Time Consuming: Setting up a Gantt chart for a complex project can be convoluted and time consuming. Software can help. They Can Become Complex and Confusing: A Gantt chart for a large project with many tasks and subtasks can become complicated.

Which tool is used for Gantt chart? ›

GanttPRO is one of the Gantt chart tool that offers online project management solutions based on Gantt charts. You can use this tool to get better results when you are managing projects. Its user interface is interactive and you can plan and control multiple projects at once using this Gantt chart tool.

Is Gantt chart Excel free? ›

Use this Excel gantt chart to simplify complex projects into an easy-to-follow plan and track the status of tasks as work progresses. This free template is also useful for keeping track of project deadlines, milestones, and hours worked.

What are the 5 Steps to Building a Gantt chart? ›

Steps to Make a Gantt Chart
  1. Make a Task List. Before you can map out the work you have to have a list of it. ...
  2. What Are the Tasks' Start and End Dates? This is when you take the tasks and sequence them over your project timeline. ...
  3. Add Milestones. ...
  4. Identify Task Dependencies. ...
  5. Start Assigning.
21 Jan 2020

How do you make a Gantt chart look good? ›

Tips for Project Planning with Gantt Charts
  1. Identify Your Project Goals and Specifics. ...
  2. Define the Project Timeline. ...
  3. Break the Project Down into Manageable Pieces. ...
  4. Create Progress Bars. ...
  5. Define the Critical Path. ...
  6. The critical path can also be displayed in a PERT chart (also known as an Activity Network).
  7. Add Milestones.

What is the most common use of Gantt charts? ›

Tasks That Can Be Planned With A Gantt Chart

The most common use of Gantt charts is to plan tasks that are sequential in nature. You can use Gantt charts for project management, quality assurance, and any other time-sensitive task that will impact the project timeline.

Does PowerPoint have a Gantt chart? ›

There are several Gantt chart templates in Microsoft PowerPoint. You can find them going to File > New > Office, then typing “Gantt chart” in the search box. You'll get 5 templates that you can manually customize and use.

Why is it called a Gantt chart? ›

In the meantime, though, Henry Laurence Gantt, an American engineer and consultant has been popularized in the west a similar method (publishing articles on it in 1910 and 1915). Therefore Henry Gantt is considered the inventor of the Gantt Chart (hence the name).

What does Gantt stand for? ›

What does Gantt stand for? Gantt is the last name of Henry Gantt who introduced the first chronological chart as a project management system. As it often happens, the name since then is widely used to describe such kind of charts.

Are Gantt charts worth it? ›

A Gantt chart can accomplish the same objective as a mindmap — it enables you and your team to capture all of your ideas in one spot for a great overview. You can then drag and drop and reorder tasks as people think up new requirements, dependencies, and milestones.

Is there a free version of Microsoft Project? ›

Microsoft Project free trial

There is a free trial of the product but only on just one online plan – Project Plan 3.

Is Monday Gantt chart free? ›

The project management app, Toggle Plan, comes with an online Gantt chart that's free to use for teams of up to 5 members. If you have a larger team, they charge $8 per user per month.

Is Google project free? ›

The price details are as follows: Free – A basic project management suite for google apps for project management to get your team started. You'll have limited functionality with a maximum of 10 boards.

What is the difference between timeline and Gantt chart? ›

Gantt charts are used to plan and manage projects, while timelines show the start and finish dates of tasks. Gantt charts are used to show the start and finish dates of tasks. Timelines are used to present projects, which include multiple tasks, events, or 2 milestones.

What is the hardest phase in project management? ›

Project Execution: A Project Management Phase. The project execution phase is often the longest and most complex stage in the project life cycle. If you're not careful, your team might get off track, run into communication problems, or stop following your carefully outlined procedures.

What is a Level 3 Gantt chart? ›

The Level 3 schedule spans the whole of the project and is used to support the monthly report. It includes all major milestones, major elements of design, engineering, procurement, construction, testing, commissioning and/or start-up.

What are two computer tools you can use to create a Gantt chart? ›

Let's take a look at some of the best Gantt chart software available, so you can select the best fit for you and your team:
  • Instagantt. Is one of the best Gantt chart software options on the market. ...
  • TeamGantt. ...
  • ProofHub: ...
  • Wrike. ...
  • Smartsheet. ...
  • GanttPRO. ...
  • Microsoft Project. ...
  • Click Up.

What type of graph is a Gantt chart? ›

A Gantt chart is a commonly used graphical depiction of a project schedule. It's a type of bar chart showing the start and finish dates of a project's elements such as resources, planning, and dependencies.

How much does a Gantt chart cost? ›

Prices are $10, $30 or $55 per user per month. The baseline plan includes collaboration and team communication, scheduling, reporting and even timesheet submission. The $30 per user per month plan adds resource management and can be installed as a desktop version.

Is project better than Excel? ›

Transitioning from Excel to Microsoft Project requires an investment in time, money, and resources. However, it is a good investment that can make a strong impact in the long run. Project information will be more transparent, processes can be more efficient, and people will be more effective with their time.

What are the 7 steps of project planning? ›

7 Steps To Project Planning Success For Project Managers
  • Tip 1: Establish clear goals for the project. ...
  • Tip 2: Set expectations up front. ...
  • Tip 3: Outline potential risks and how you'll manage them if hazards arise. ...
  • Tip 4: Minimize the number of meetings. ...
  • Tip 5: Plan the perfect kickoff meeting.
8 Feb 2019

What are the 7 elements of a project plan? ›

Let's dive into the details:
  • Step 1: Define your goals and objectives. ...
  • Step 2: Set success metrics. ...
  • Step 3: Clarify stakeholders and roles. ...
  • Step 4: Set your budget. ...
  • Step 5: Align on milestones, deliverables, and project dependencies. ...
  • Step 6: Outline your timeline and schedule. ...
  • Step 7: Share your communication plan.
13 Jul 2022

Does Microsoft offer Gantt charts? ›

To communicate detailed task and schedule information to managers or other team members, you can create a Gantt chart in Microsoft Visio. You can also use a Gantt chart to manage the project's schedule at the task level.

Does Microsoft Project do Gantt chart? ›

The Gantt Chart view is the most commonly used view in Project. It lists the tasks in your project, and illustrates their relationship to one another and the schedule using Gantt bars. The Gantt Chart view is the default view for new projects. Note: To access the Gantt Chart view, on the View menu, click Gantt Chart.

Is MS project good for Gantt chart? ›

Microsoft Project for making Gantt Charts

Since making schedules that are easy to see and understand is an important aspect of project management, Microsoft Project can also be used for making Gantt charts. The great thing about this software is that it makes creating such charts easy.

Does Microsoft planner make Gantt charts? ›

Gantt chart format is a traditional and widely used way to view plan tasks and timelines. As one of the ways to work with the project plans, PPM Express supports the Gantt chart for Microsoft Planner.

Do people actually use Gantt charts? ›

A Gantt chart is a type of bar chart that represents your project schedule visually. The Gantt chart was the first formal technique for managing projects and is still a staple tool in project management today. The Gantt chart is likely the single most widely used technique for visually portraying project schedules.

Which is better Excel or MS Project? ›

When it comes to managing project information such as scope (phases, tasks, milestones and deliverables), timelines (schedules and deadlines) and resources (assignments, effort, availability and costs), Project provides better built-in capabilities than Excel.

Is Microsoft Project the same as Excel? ›

Microsoft Project helps businesses plan projects & collaborate from anywhere using tools such as task assignment, due-date... Excel is a spreadsheet management software program with data analysis tools to help users track and visualize data for greater...

How do I create a professional Gantt chart? ›

How to make a Gantt chart in Excel
  1. List your project schedule in an Excel table. ...
  2. Begin making your Excel Gantt by setting it up as a Stacked Bar Chart. ...
  3. Add the start dates of your tasks to the Gantt chart. ...
  4. Add the durations of your tasks to the Gantt chart. ...
  5. Add the descriptions of your tasks to the Gantt chart.

What are the 3 main benefits of using a Gantt chart? ›

How Is a Gantt Chart Useful? Gantt charts help you organize projects, improve overall project visibility, and keep everyone on track. Gantt charts also help managers provide resources when and where they need them. And they encourage collaboration among project team members.

What is the most common tool used in the industry for making Gantt charts? ›

Clickup is one of the most popular project management software: very light and easy to set up, it is very well suited for small teams who want to try out Gantt charts. In terms of pricing, Clickup is probably the best value on the market thanks to a very advanced free plan with an unlimited number of projects.

Is Microsoft Planner discontinued? ›

Planner is (still) Dependent on Microsoft 365 Groups

In 2022, this is less of an issue. We use Microsoft 365 Groups for almost everything, even if you aren't aware of it. If you have access to Team Channels or a SharePoint Team site, you're part of a Group.

What is Microsoft Planner called now? ›

The “Planner” app name in Teams has changed to “Tasks by Planner and To Do” - Microsoft Community Hub.

What can I use instead of Microsoft Planner? ›

The 12 Best Alternatives to Microsoft Planner
  • ClickUp.
  • Trello.
  • Microsoft Excel.
  • Wrike.
  • Asana.
  • Basecamp.
  • Zoho Projects.
7 Nov 2022


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