Create a visual tracking of your project tasks with this free Excel Gantt chart. It’s a great way to see the duration of the overall project. Once you schedule your tasks on a Gantt chart you’ll never go back to the old-fashioned task list.
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Why You Need a Gantt Chart Template
Gantt charts have been around since 1917, when Henry L. Gantt created one as a way to analyze and synthesize workflows. His motivation was World War I, and trying to improve economic and labor results. He collaborated with the U.S. Army, which saw the value in his visual system.
Since the 1980s, Gantt charts have been going online and have become great tools for project managers. They are a very useful tool when planning and executing a phase of your project, as they easily and visually identify tasks and allocated resources.
Think of a Gantt chart as a bar chart on steroids. It illustrates the start and finish dates of the many tasks and milestones of your project. The Gantt chart is also designed to show task dependencies between activities, and they are ideal ways to show a current schedule status using percent-complete shading.
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.
Downloading your free Excel Gantt chart and creating one for your project is one more tool in your toolbox to better control and manage your work.
How to Use This Gantt Chart Template
Gantt charts can be complicated for the novice, but there are ways to make them simple and effective, such as when they’re part of your project management software tools. But first let’s explain how you can use this free downloaded Excel Gantt chart template as a standalone document to help you track your project’s schedule.
1. Task Start and End Dates
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 it’s own line so you can track the project as each tasks is completed.
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 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. Timeline View
This is where the Gantt chart stops being merely a glorified task list and turns into a visual aid in managing your project. What happens here is that all the data you imputed in the other columns is then generated here as a timeline. Now you have a visual aid in helping you see at-a-glance the progress of the project. 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 and stay abreast of its progress.
How to Import Project Plans to Create Gantt Charts in ProjectManager.com
Now that you’ve downloaded our free Excel Gantt chart template, and you’ve filled it in with the necessary project information, you’re a Gantt chart maker. But next, going to want to use it with your other software tools. Whether you’re using Excel to manage your projects or you’ve employed Microsoft Project, it’s simple to take those existing Gantt charts and import them into ProjectManager.com for a more robust project management.
It’s as simple as a click. Just one click and you’ll have all the project information you’ve added to your static Gantt chart in a powerful and interactive project management software. ProjectManager.com has awarding-winning Gantt charts, which are easy to create in a matter of seconds, and better still the transition is seamless.
On the ProjectManager.com homepage, in the upper left-hand section, click on the pulldown menu and scroll down until you see the import selection. When your cursor is on import another window pops up. Click on task and follow the prompts. Once you’ve got your project in ProjectManager.com you’ll find that it’s never been easier or more productive to manage your project.
How to Use a Gantt Chart in ProjectManager.com
Once your free Excel Gantt chart has been downloaded, created and imported 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 easily shared with other team members wherever they are and on whatever device they are using on work on the project. That means that there is task-level collaboration and file sharing with but a click of a button.
When a date changes for a task it’s as simple as drag-and-dropping the new time for that schedule change in your Gantt chart. 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 management software 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 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. And 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 when used in ProjectManager.com
ProjectManager.com is a project management hub, a place with 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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You are now a Gantt chart creator, and have read how Gantt charts are made even more efficient, easier to use and productive when used within the ProjectManager.com software. If you’re looking for a project management software 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 going to ProjectManager.com and taking a free 30-day trial run of the software.