The Gantt chart is a visual schedule, a way to chart tasks and note their durations over the course of a project. Everyone managing a project should use one, too.
Gantt charts in Excel are fine, but Gantt chart software, sometimes called a Gantt chart maker, offers an easy way to make a Gantt chart. They turn the complicated and tedious task of building a Gantt chart in Excel into a simple three-step process. There’s no reason not to have a Gantt chart as one of your online PM tools.
See how easy it is to use an online Gantt chart maker:
Step 1: Find the Right Tool
How do you find the right Gantt chart maker for you and possibly your team? Excel is often the first place people look. We offer a free Excel Gantt chart templates that you can use to make a simple Gantt chart. Keep in mind, however, while simple Gantt charts can be made in Excel, they require you to update them manually. That’s time-consuming, especially when you have better online options.
Most project management apps don’t have a Gantt chart, or they offer a simple “view” of your tasks’ progress, without much detail. In those tools, they really aren’t much better than the simple Excel Gantt charts. But some project management apps have integrated Gantt chart makers that not only create instant Gantt charts, but they can do much more to help you and your team work more productively.
When we were developing ProjectManager.com, for example, we wanted to build Gantt chart software that had all the features you would need to manage your tasks, your teams and monitor progress along the way. In our cloud-based platform, creating a Gantt chart is easy, and sharing a Gantt chart is even easier.
Because no one plans in isolation.
So look for an online Gantt chart maker that fosters collaborative project planning and task management, too. Everything is online, so when you invite team members to the Gantt chart they see the project plan and have the ability to update their tasks, which you then see in real-time. Literally on the Gantt, you’ll see the task bars show shading that represents how much progress is made on each task. Your team members can also attach files to the task they’re working on, and that helps everyone collaborate more efficiently.
So while there are many online Gantt charts on the market, you should do the research to see what tool fits all of your team and project needs.
Step 2: Add or Import Tasks
For the purposes of this article, we’ll show you how to make a Gantt chart in ProjectManager.com (cause of course we know it best.) If you want to practice along, you can always take a free 30-day trial and see how it works in action.
Once you have logged in, you will be prompted to create a new project. Once you name and create your project, you’ll see the ProjectManager.com online Gantt chart. Of course, you don’t have any tasks yet, so you can’t see the Gantt’s signature bars. So let’s add some tasks.
You can start adding tasks right in the spreadsheet. You can add several tasks at a time, by simply hitting “enter” after typing the word. As you add your tasks, you’ll see bubbles for each task on the Gantt chart. They’re bubbles, because the default due date is today’s date. So simply drag the right side of each bubble to its correct due date, and your Gantt is now showing the timeline of those tasks.
Or you can upload a task list from a Word or Excel or MS Project file. It’s as simple as a keystroke to import tasks to create . You may have to map some columns, but then all the task data and associated dates you have will populate the Gantt chart instantly.
Either way you chose to do this, you’ll need to next set the due dates to create a timeline on the Gantt visually marking the duration of the task. You will also want to link any tasks that are dependent on one another, and even determine milestones over the life cycle of the project to note the end of a project phase.
Step 3: Share Your Gantt Chart
Well, this part is really easy. Your Gantt chart is already online, so you can easily invite your team to start getting the most out of this useful tool. To share, click the “Share” icon in the right hand corner of the Gantt chart to email anyone the link. You can also print out the Gantt in beautiful, easy-to-read pdf format.
The benefits of sharing your Gantt chart in ProjectManager.com are clear. For one thing, you can improve project management by collaborating with the team to create the project plan and they can do this right on the Gantt chart. You can:
1. Assign team members to tasks or re-assign tasks to team members depending on availability, and their names will now appear above the taskbar on the Gantt.
2. Customize your Gantt chart however you like to suit your team’s and your own needs. You can color-code people or task to quickly see who’s responsible for what.
3. Attach files, comments, notes, images, videos, links, comments at the task level to capture relevant conversation about that task and easily access it when you need it.
4. Get email alerts to stay updated on statuses and customize notifications to suit your team and your own needs.
5. Have project discussions and also view your activity feed to see recent project and task updates in one place, you can see what the team is working on and what their progress is.
As mentioned, you can also share the Gantt chart you made by saving it as a PDF and emailing it to team members or stakeholders or anyone you’re reporting to. If your PM tool has a dashboard then you can build out your data even more visually than on the Gantt chart, with colorful graphs and charts, which can then be saved and shared.
How to Get More From Your Gantt Chart Maker
Every project is different, so there are a number of different columns in ProjectManager.com that you’ll likely want to add to your spreadsheet. Here are some of the more common ones.
• Task name to describe the task
• Planned start date to note when the task should begin
• Planned duration to set a timeline for completion of that task
• Planned effort details the time you think it should take to finish the task
• Percent complete will note how much of the task is completed, usually estimated by the tasked team member
• Assigned identifies the person, people or resource type allocated to work on the task
• Dependencies links one task that cannot start without the completion of another
There are many Gantt chart makers on the market, and determining which one is right for you will take some research and understanding of what it is you’re looking for when creating a Gantt chart. Some project management software offer simple, streamlined solutions, while others have more robust features. Get what’s right for you and your team. Remember, it’s easy to create a Gantt chart in ProjectManager.com. Take a free trial and see.