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What Is a Gantt Chart?

excel gantt chart template

Whether you’re a project management rookie or veteran, you’ve  probably heard of a gantt chart. While a gantt chart might seem intimidating, they’re not as mystifying as you might think. So what is a gantt chart?

A gantt chart is a horizontal bar chart that visually represents a project plan over time. Modern gantt charts typically show you the status of—as well as who’s responsible for—each task in the project.

In other words, a gantt chart is a super-simple way to keep you out of a project pinch!

What are the key parts of a gantt chart?

A gantt chart is made up of several different elements. So let’s take a quick look at 8 key components so you know how to read a gantt chart:

See for yourself by checking out this sample chart in TeamGantt:

The History of Gantt Charts

The first project management chart was invented by Karol Adamiecki in 1896. So why isn’t it called an Adamiecki chart? Good question!

Here’s a quick history of gantt charts:

How to Use a Gantt Chart

Gantt charts come in many forms—from good old-fashioned paper to desktop and even web-based software. Bringing these charts online transformed them from a static document that quickly becomes obsolete to a living, collaborative representation of a project’s current state.

Gantt charts are useful in almost any industry. Here are just a few examples of the types of teams and companies that use gantt charts to plan, schedule, and execute their projects:

The Benefits of Gantt Charts

A gantt chart is like a front-row seat to the project action. All the tiny details you never noticed from the nosebleed section suddenly come to life in full color right before your very eyes. It’s nearly impossible to miss a game-changing move!

Let’s take an up-close-and-personal look at some of the gantt chart’s biggest project management benefits:

Visualize Your Entire Project

A project plan is one thing. How it plays out is another. A gantt chart gives you a start-to-finish view of your entire project timeline so you can see how tasks are progressing in real time. That means you can provide up-to-the-minute status reports to managers and stakeholders in a flash.

See How Tasks Are Connected

Let’s face it: Things change. Lucky for you, modern gantt charts make it easy to shift tasks around without breaking your stride. With dependencies—a star feature of any gantt chart—you can keep tasks connected even when your timeline gives you the ol’ switcheroo.

Keep Everyone on the Same Page and on Time

Clear communication is a must-have in any project. Without it, you risk project delays and cost overruns. Web-based gantt charts, like TeamGantt, ensure no one’s left in the dark. That’s because all your project info and discussion threads live in one central hub that everyone can access, making team collaboration a breeze.

Know Who’s Busy and Who Isn’t

If you want to make smart business decisions, you’ve got to have a good grasp on your resources. With gantt charts, resource management is no longer a guessing game. You can see who’s got bandwidth to take on new tasks at a glance.

Want to Learn How to Make a Gantt Chart?

Now that you’ve got the gantt chart basics down, you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and create a gantt chart of your own! Keep reading, and you’ll learn what you need to get started and how to build a gantt chart that makes your next project a breeze.

NEXT CHAPTER: How to Make a Gantt Chart

Create a beautiful project plan in just minutes

When you’re a project manager, every minute counts. So why waste time building out a bunch of complicated spreadsheets just to keep tabs on a project?

At TeamGantt, you don’t have to. Our free online gantt chart software enables you to stay focused on the tasks that move the needle. Whip up a project plan in minutes, and watch your team cross the finish line faster. It really is that simple.