Create a Gantt chart in minutes with these free templates for either Excel or ProjectManager. 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 free Gantt chart Excel template, you’ll never go back to the old-fashioned task list.
But, if you open the Gantt chart template in ProjectManager, you’ll be able to manage your project with not just a Gantt chart, but with five different views: Gantt, kanban board, task list, calendar and sheet. Plus, you’ll be able to collaborate on those tasks with your team in real time, and track progress in the software with live dashboards and instant status reports. Get started for free with ProjectManager and build a dynamic Gantt chart in minutes.
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 the current project 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 project plan and project schedule versus your actual progress. It’s also a means to view project baselines and critical paths, as well as define core project milestones. Download our free template to learn how to make a Gantt chart in Excel.
Who Should Use a Gantt Chart Template?
This Gantt chart Excel 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 the project management team members to make sure they’re prioritizing the right tasks.
More than just the duration and sequence of activities, you’re going to want to seek guidance from your 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. If that task is on the critical path, it will affect your project schedule. 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 the data that comes from this Excel 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 project schedule and how it aligns with the actual progress.
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 Excel 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 Excel template only works if you have every task assigned its own line so you can track the project as each task is completed with the bar chart on the right.
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, a very important step in project planning.
The final column in this section of our free Gantt chart Excel 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 inputted in the other columns are then generated here as a stacked bar chart 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 the information that is critical to your project.
3. Update Changes Manually
Yes, our Gantt chart Excel 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 clunky Microsoft Excel.
To take your free Gantt chart Excel template to the next level, import it into ProjectManager, our award-winning project management software. ProjectManager turns your template into a dynamic online Gantt chart with simple, drag-and-drop functionality.
What a Gantt Chart Excel Template Can & Can’t Do
There are many different types of Gantt charts, some static and others more dynamic. This Microsoft Excel template is on the static side. We’ll explain what it can do in plain terms below.
What Can This Gantt Chart Excel Template Do?
You can list all your tasks on the Gantt chart, 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. In a nutshell, this free template allows you to create a basic project schedule.
What Can’t This Gantt Chart Excel Template Do?
Not all tasks are the same. Some can’t start or finish until another task has started or finished. This is called task dependency. The template can’t link dependent tasks. You won’t be able to assign the tasks to your team from this free template, and when they start to work on the project, their updates will not be reflected on the template in real time. You’ll have to manually add that data. This roadblock, however, can be solved by importing your Gantt Chart Excel template into ProjectManager. ProjectManager has an online Gantt Chart that updates itself in real time and allows you to assign tasks to your team members, link task dependencies, set project milestones and identify the critical path. In addition, you can use all the robust project management tools that ProjectManager has to offer.
How to Import Your Gantt Chart Template into ProjectManager
To import your free Gantt chart Excel template into ProjectManager, you first need to transfer the data in your Gantt chart 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 Excel template will be imported into the software.
How to Use a Gantt Chart in ProjectManager
Once you import your Gantt chart Excel template into ProjectManager, the real fun begins. What was once a static, if useful, the document is now a powerful interactive tool that can be used for collaborating with your team members.
First of all, ProjectManager 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.
ProjectManager allows project managers to edit the Gantt chart online, so everybody on the team can see those changes in real time. 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 are also the aforementioned task dependencies, which can complicate a schedule and potentially block team members. With ProjectManager, online Gantt charts have the feature where you can automate task dependencies so that when one task is delayed or completed it adjusts the other tasks dependent on it. You can also automate emails to notify you and team members when these tasks are completed. All this and integrated reporting take Gantt charts to the next level in ProjectManager.
Other Free Excel 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 project plan and create a schedule. To help you get the most out of your Gantt chart Excel template we have a page on our website devoted to free project management Excel templates you can download. 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 project 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 successfully 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
Besides our free Gantt chart Excel template, we have much more to offer to project managers. ProjectManager 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 easier and more efficient when used within ProjectManager’s online 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.