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What is the Gantt Chart in Project Management? A Complete Guide

19th Feb, 2024
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    What is the Gantt Chart in Project Management? A Complete Guide

    As per the popular paradigm, "a picture speaks a thousand words", built around the same ideology is today's popular and powerful project management tool known as the Gantt Chart in project management which is used by both project managers and stakeholders as well as individuals to review at a single glance, the set of activities to be done for the project and track/manage all of them effectively. This article aims on the Gantt Chart tool that creates transparency about the productivity and progress of the team and understands its use cases across project management.

    What is a Gantt Chart in Project Management?

    A Gantt chart is a visual representation of the project plan over a while or over a period of time. It is a powerful tool often used as an information radiator to represent the timeline, status, activities, and responsibilities of the project. A project Gantt chart depicts a visual overview of the decisive or critical project information, such as the overall project timeline, activity schedule, milestones, dependencies, and task/activity assignees. 

    Who uses Gantt charts?

    A Gantt chart is used for tracking and managing project activities to ensure they stay on track as planned, and this is applicable not only for IT, construction, or operations projects but also for any temporary endeavor taken up to achieve the desired outcomes. 

    Therefore, a Gantt chart may be used in a professional setup by portfolio, program, or project management, or an operational project execution environment, or by any person who may be running an event or an assignment and may be interested in tracking the breakdown of activities, planning milestones and tracking progress per the plan. 

    Besides who creates a Gantt chart, understand how to create them and a list of other project management techniques to successfully drive and manage projects by taking the foundational and versatile Project Management course.

    When Should you Use a Gantt Chart?

    As mentioned above, a Gantt chart in project management can be used in a professional setup to manage big or small projects, guiding them to defined objectives, or can also be used for organizing events, completing tasks, meeting deadlines, or keeping track of study plans, personal projects or other activities which require an organized execution plan. 

    Notably, a lot of students use Gantt charts to complete educational assignments; event management firms have been known to use Gantt chart Excel to manage vendor support and complete activities for D-dates. You can get a complete understanding of Gantt charts, their usage, and how to generate one with dependencies well planned and linked by opting for PMP training.

    What are the Components of a Gantt Chart?

    A Gantt chart is a visual representation of the project plan and has several components that help outline the plan into a visual diagram:

    • List of Tasks - flowing vertically along the left-hand side, showing all activities to be done sequentially or in parallel

    • Bars - the right-hand side component of the Gantt chart formulated on the above fields often shown as horizontal bars

    • Dates - Start Date and End date of the task

    • Duration - Calculated based on the start date and end date

    • Assignee/Owner - representing who would be responsible for getting the task done

    • Milestones - To showcase important flags or milestones which help keep track of progress

    • Dependencies - which connect tasks to show interlinked activities

    • Progress - shown as % or shades to indicate how much of the task is completed

    • Current Dateline - showing today or the current date in the overall Gantt chart

    While all of the above formulate the key components of a standard Gantt chart template, the components/fields may differ by naming conventions according to the tool/template being used. 

    What is Gantt Chart Used for?

    A Gantt chart is used for organizing project plans and ensuring projects execute in an orderly manner without wrecking the alignment of activities that were outlined in the project planning phase. A Gantt chart meaning is fulfilled when there is enough transparency as well as timely completion of planned activities in the project. In the project management function, a Gantt chart is remarkably used for scheduling project activities, earmarking activity dependencies, allocating resources, identifying project baselines, determining the project Gantt chart a critical path, and release planning, among many other use cases in program and portfolio management functions.

    Benefits of Using Gantt Chart in Project Management

    The usage of a Gantt chart yields several benefits in project management, viz:

    1. Gives a real-time view of project activities and status

    2. Builds collaboration and a culture of accountability

    3. Helps visualize what’s next as soon as one activity is completed

    4. Helps address dependencies and plan effectively 

    5. Prevention of resource burnout as well as idle time

    6. Creates transparency in project execution and keeps stakeholders informed

    7. Improve team productivity and alignment of activities.

    How to Make a Gantt Chart (Step-by-step)?

    To start with, one can look at any Gantt chart template or, even better, a Gantt chart sample or tool to understand how to create a Gantt chart; nevertheless, any tool or template, or sample will include the following steps:

    1. Define Project Dates: Define the project start date and end date (it is very important to have an end date to ensure projects meet the defined objectives within planned timelines)

    2. Outline the Task List: List down all of the project tasks up to a unit or work breakdown structure level

    3. Group Tasks in the Task List: While listing the tasks, ensure to group by task type or milestones (to be covered in step # )

    4. Identify Assignees: Mark task assignees as tracking is only fulfilled when all tasks are assigned and owners identified

    5. Update Task Duration: Define task dates/duration based on the estimates from the assignees

    6. Define Dependencies: Identify relationships and dependencies between tasks at the outset any Gantt chart would follow 4 dependencies

      • Finish-Start (FS) where the preceding activity must be completed before the succeeding activity can commence.

      • Start-Finish (SF) where the subsequent activity can only be completed after the preceding activity has commenced. (rare dependencies)

      • Start-Start (SS) where the succeeding activity can start only after the preceding activity has started.

      • Finish-Finish (FF) where both activities need to be completed together.

    7. Define Milestones: short achievement points while focusing on the end goal 

    8. Gantt Chart Updates: Update task status, resources, and progress if not automatically done.

    Understand dependencies, how to effectively map them in a Gantt chart, and sequencing activities across teams, iterations, and releases effectively by learning these concepts through the PRINCE2 course online and gain industry-agnostic project management skills and driving your own team.

    Examples of Gantt Chart in Project Management

    A Gantt chart example can be easily found as there are a plethora of chart types and formats available readily with a single search. Anyone willing to refer to or use a Gantt chart can easily do it, as they require only a basic understanding of tasks and correspondingly planned activities/dependencies to be understood rightly. 

    Gantt charts are a powerful and popular tool not only for IT projects but also for operations, construction, healthcare, banking, consulting, and a whirl of other businesses that benefit from organized planning and transparent practices.

    Below is a list of a few examples where Gantt charts come in handy:

    1. For consulting projects to onboard vendors, partners, or consultants

    2. For construction projects to ensure transparency and tracking of milestones and dates

    3. For business planning and pitch materials to seek investment, support, or portray opportunities

    4. For marketing teams to run campaigns and track activities

    5. For migration or revamp projects to showcase the next steps and timelines

    6. Human resource planning, forecasting, and interview processes

    7. Sales and Service cycles to outlining process activities

    8. Maintaining and managing a social media schedule & content calendar

    9. Personal projects - running a marathon, baking a cake, creating an investment plan, etc.

    While the above list is not exhaustive, Gantt charts are ubiquitously used across many industries, domains, projects, or by individuals to simplify planning and stay organized.

    Gantt Chart Templates

    While it is very simple and easy to quickly create a Gantt chart using an Excel or Google sheet or via an online tool, here are a few readily downloadable or usable templates to start creating your Gantt chart. 

    Gantt Charts in Waterfall vs Agile Planning

    Gantt charts are useful in any project methodology to steer projects, avoid scope creep, and sequence activities effectively to minimize friction in executing the project plans. 

    It is a general myth that agile projects do not require any planning or require less planning vis-a-vis waterfall projects, while it is the other way around that agile projects require more cautious sequencing due to overlapping iterations and shorter timelines. Hence, Gantt charts formulate an important piece of project management irrespective of the methodology on which projects are being executed.

    Gantt charts have always been used primarily in waterfall projects which follow linear, sequential execution with activities tightly coupled to the preceding activities forming a unidirectional structure of project execution

    Agile planning also adds strong impetus to executing multiple iterations based on customer feedback and breaking up larger plans into milestones that help align delivery per stakeholder expectations which can be easily achieved using a Gantt chart. Through the KnowledgeHut Project Management course you can take advantage of live, interactive training sessions with experienced and certified project managers.


    Gantt charts are a powerful project management tool that is used unanimously across various industries, domains, or areas which require more organized and focused project management efforts. They are used in complex projects or smaller ones or even by individuals to align activities that have to be performed to achieve desired outcomes from temporary endeavors. Gantt chart templates and software are good resources that individuals or project managers can use to spin up one real quick and get started managing project activities without chaos.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1What is the Gantt chart format?

    A Gantt chart format is nothing but a visual representation of the project plan having a list of activities on the left side flowing vertically, having dates, duration, dependencies, and overall start and end date of the project.

    2What are the two types of Gantt charts?

    Two common types of Gantt charts used by project managers include - a formal Gantt chart which lists all activities that can be grouped by type of activities or milestones, or a hierarchical format to track task-intensive projects that require more detailed tracking and involve cross-team dependencies.

    3What are the advantages of the Gantt chart?

    A Gantt chart is quite advantageous to showcase a project plan which is easily understood, tracked, and actionable by all teams and stakeholders, along with highlighting milestones, challenges, changes, and what is the overall project status and what's left.


    Rohit Arjun Sambhwani


    Rohit Arjun Sambhwani is an IT professional having over a decade and half of experience in various roles, domains & organizations, currently playing a leading role with a premier IT services organization. He is a post graduate in Information Technology and enjoys his free time learning new topics, project management, agile coaching, and writing apart from playing with his naughty little one Aryan

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