Create a Gantt chart in Excel with this free template. It’s a great way to visually track your project tasks and see the duration of the overall project. Once you schedule your tasks on our Gantt chart template, you’ll never go back to the old-fashioned task list. (And if you try our Gantt chart software, you’ll never go back to the template, either!)
Download The Free Gantt Chart Template for Excel:
What is a Gantt Chart?
Think of a Gantt chart as a timeline on steroids. It illustrates the start and finish dates of the many tasks and milestones of your project. The Gantt chart shows task dependencies between activities, and it is an ideal chart for displaying current schedule status. It is a useful tool when planning and executing a phase of your project, as it easily and visually identifies tasks and allocated resources.
Other than a visual timeline of tasks and projects, Gantt charts are great for managing projects because tasks can be color-coded by person, team or function. They make tracking dependent tasks easier. You can compare your planned versus your actual progress on the project. It’s also a means to view project baselines and critical paths, as well as defining core project milestones.
For more information on the best ways to use Gantt charts, watch the video below:
Who Should Use a Gantt Chart Template?
This Gantt chart template is a tool to organize tasks and create a project schedule. This is under the purview of the project manager. However, while the project manager owns this process, they will seek help from others to make sure they’re prioritizing the right tasks.
More than just the sequence of activities, you’re going to want to seek guidance from you team about task dependencies. A task that is dependent on another to start or finish can block your team or create bottlenecks that will take you off track. Your team is your best resource to help you understand how each task interacts with the next.
Finally, stakeholders will want to see the Gantt chart or at least data that comes from this template. They are invested in the successful outcome of the project and want to be kept abreast of progress. The Gantt chart acts as a point of comparison to your actual progress, so when presenting to the stakeholders you can show them the schedule and how it aligns to the actual progress of the project.
How to Use This Gantt Chart Template
Gantt chart templates can be complicated for the novice, but there are ways to make them simple and effective, such as when they’re part of your larger project management software. But first let’s explain how you can use this free Gantt chart template as a standalone document to help you track your project’s schedule.
1. Input Tasks in the Gantt Chart
The Gantt chart is not that different from a task list, at least in the sense that it’s a list of your tasks. Therefore, the first thing you should do is have a task-by-task breakdown of the project. Those will go in the first column. This may seem obvious, but the Gantt chart only works if you have every task assigned its own line so you can track the project as each task is completed.
When inputting your task names, make them clear and to the point. You don’t want to enter an overly descriptive task name that clutters up your chart. On the flip side, you want it to be descriptive enough that anyone who looks at your Gantt chart will immediately understand what that task is. Gantt charts are often shared with stakeholders, so make sure it’s useful during meetings.
Once the tasks are listed, you need to assign a start and end date to each one. This is part of the planning phase of your project. If you don’t have dates for when the project’s tasks start and when you expect them to end, there’s no way you’ll be able to control the scope of work on the project. Once you have these dates inserted into the proper columns, you’ve begun the schedule of your project.
The final column in this section of the Gantt chart template is the one titled duration. That, simply put, is the time it takes to complete the task. The duration is the sum of time between the start date and the end date.
2. Use the Timeline View
This is where the Gantt chart template stops being merely a glorified task list and turns into a visual aid for managing your project. What happens here is that all the data you inputed in the other columns is then generated here as a timeline. Now you have a visual aid to help you see the progress of the project at a glance. This is where you can color-code tasks to reflect different teams, team members or functions. It’s a great way to highlight that information which is critical to your project.
3. Update Changes Manually
Yes, our Gantt chart template is an upgrade from a simple task list, but it’s still a static document that’s limited to a desktop. If you want to update the template, you have to manually add more tasks to the data grid, update dates and fumble around with clunkly Microsoft Excel.
To take your Gantt chart to the next level, import it into ProjectManager.com, our award-winning project management software. ProjectManager.com turns your template into a dynamic online Gantt chart with simple, drag-and-drop functionality.
What a Gantt Chart Template Can & Can’t Do
There are many different types of Gantt charts, some static and others more dynamic. This template is on the static side. We’ll explain what it can do in plain terms below.
What Can This Gantt Template Do?
You can list all your tasks on the Gantt, no matter how many you have in your project plan. Then you can set the duration, which means the start and finish dates. This is the data that puts the tasks on the timeline, with a duration bar linking the start to the finish. To indicate the project phases, you can color code the tasks.
What Can’t This Gantt Template Do?
Not all tasks are the same. Some can’t start or finish until another task has started or finished. This is called a task dependency. The template can’t link dependent tasks. You won’t be able to assign the tasks to your team from this template, and when they start to work on the project, their updates will not be reflected on the template. You’ll have to manually add that data. This roadblock, however, can be solved by importing your Gantt Chart Excel template into ProjectManager.com.
How to Import Your Gantt Chart Template into ProjectManager.com
To import your Gantt chart template into ProjectManager.com go to the Gantt view of a project, which can seamlessly import and export MS Project, Excel, and CSV files. Once you’re in the Gantt view for your project, simply click the import button in the main navigation and choose the file you wish to import. From there, map the columns you want to retain, click import and your template will be imported into the software.
How to Use a Gantt Chart in ProjectManager.com
Once you import your Gantt chart template into ProjectManager.com, the real fun begins. What was once a static, if useful, document is now a powerful interactive tool that can be used for collaborating with your team.
First of all, ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software, so all your tasks are stored remotely and can be easily shared with other team members wherever they are. That means that there is task-level collaboration and file sharing with just a click of a button.
When a deadline changes for a task, you can simply drag-and-drop the task timeline to reflect that change in your schedule. Things are going to change over the course of your project’s lifecycle, and you’re going to want an easy way to adjust your project schedule without having to waste time creating a new Gantt chart.
There’s also the aforementioned task dependencies, which can complicate a schedule and potentially block team members from sending the whole project off-track. With ProjectManager.com, Gantt charts have the feature where you can automate task dependencies so that when one tasks is delayed or complete it adjusts the other task dependent on it. You can also automate emails to notify you and team members when these tasks are completed. All this and integrated reporting takes Gantt charts to the next level in ProjectManager.com.
Other Templates to Complement this Gantt Chart
The Gantt chart is one of the most used tools in a project manager’s toolbox for a reason. It’s a great way to organize and manage your tasks, build your plan and create a schedule. To help you get the most out of your Gantt chart template we have a page on our website devoted to free project management templates. The following are a few you’ll find helpful.
The Gantt chart organizes your tasks, but how do you collect them? To find every step you must take to reach your final project deliverable, use a work breakdown structure template. It is a tool to visualize every deliverable or task in your project, and shows you the total scope of work that must be done. This is the step you need to take before the Gantt, so be thorough.
Creating a schedule with your Gantt is part of the process of the overall project plan, which consists of the tasks and resources that you’ll need to successful conclude the project. It describes the major phases of the project, which are represented on the Gantt as milestones. The work you do with the Gantt chart template will feed directly into your project plan, and this template outlines all those pieces to make sure you have a complete picture when you’re done.
The project budget comes directly from the tasks. It speaks to the amount of money you have to supply resources to reach your final deliverable. Some Gantts allow you to add resource costs directly to the chart, so using this template will help you to estimate the costs associated with executing the project. You’ll need this information to track your costs during the project.
Related Content About Gantt Charts
ProjectManager.com is a project management hub, a place where like-minded professionals can gather and discuss topics of interest. Our regular blog and video posts address ongoing issues for project managers, including subjects like Gantt charts and how to get the most out of them. Here are a few of those articles.
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Gantt charts are made even more easy and efficient when used within the ProjectManager.com software. If you’re looking for a software solution, why not use one that has been ranked #1 in project management software applications repeatedly by Gartner’s GetApp? See how it works for you and your projects by taking a free 30-day trial run of the software.
(This page was updated September 2020)