Create a Gantt chart in Excel with this free Gantt chart 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 Excel template, you’ll never go back to the old-fashioned task list.
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.
Related: Gantt Chart Software
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.
How to Make a Gantt Chart in Excel
Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy way to make a Gantt chart in Excel. Excel is a spreadsheet software and wasn’t designed to create visual project timelines with just a few clicks. There are lengthy video tutorials that explain how to make a Gantt chart in Excel, but the final product is underwhelming. So, to put it simply, the best way to make a Gantt chart in Excel is to use a template!
Download our free Excel Gantt chart template and start making your Gantt chart right away. It will be one more tool in your toolbox to better control and manage your work.
How to Use This Gantt Chart Excel 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 tasks 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. 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 and stay abreast of its progress.
3. Drawbacks of a Template
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 Gantt chart, 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.
Importing Your Excel 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 ribbon menu above the Gantt chart 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 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 dragging-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
Related Content About Gantt Charts
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.
(This page was updated November 2019)