A Gantt chart is a horizontal bar chart that visually represents a project plan over time. Modern gantt charts typically show you the status of—as well as who’s responsible for each task in the project.
In other words, a gantt chart is a super-simple way to keep you out of a project pinch!
A Gantt chart is made up of several different elements. So let’s take a quick look at 8 key components so you know how to read a gantt chart:
- Task list: Runs vertically down the left of the gantt chart to describe project work and may be organized into groups and subgroups
- Timeline: Runs horizontally across the top of the gantt chart and shows months, weeks, days, and years
- Dateline: A vertical line that highlights the current date on the gantt chart
- Bars: Horizontal markers on the right side of the gantt chart that represent tasks and show progress, duration, and start and end dates
- Milestones: Yellow diamonds that call out major events, dates, decisions, and deliverables
- Dependencies: Light gray lines that connect tasks that need to happen in a certain order
- Progress: Shows how far along work is and may be indicated by % Complete and/or bar shading
- Resource assigned: Indicates the person or team responsible for completing a task
The History of Gantt Charts
The first project management chart was invented by Karol Adamiecki in 1896. So why isn’t it called an Adamiecki chart? Good question!
Here’s a quick history of gantt charts:
- 1896: Karol Adamiecki creates the first project management chart: the Harmonogram, a precursor to the modern gantt chart.
- 1931: Adamiecki publishes the Harmonogram (but in Polish with limited exposure).
- 1910-1915: Henry Gantt publishes his own project management system, the gantt chart.
- Today: Gantt charts are the preferred tool for managing projects of all sizes and types.
How to Use a Gantt Chart
Gantt charts come in many forms—from good old-fashioned paper to desktop and even web-based software. Bringing these charts online transformed them from a static document that quickly becomes obsolete to a living, collaborative representation of a project’s current state.
Gantt charts are useful in almost any industry. Here are just a few examples of the types of teams and companies that use gantt charts to plan, schedule, and execute their projects:
- Consulting agencies
- Marketing teams
- Human resources
- Software development
- Event planning
The Benefits of Gantt Charts
A gantt chart is like a front-row seat to the project action. All the tiny details you never noticed from the nosebleed section suddenly come to life in full color right before your very eyes.
Benefits of Using Gantt Charts
- Visualize Your Entire Project
- See How Tasks are Connected
- Keeps Everyone on the Same Page
- Know Who’s Busy and Who Isn’t