Gantt chart is a useful tool that is utilized in project management to show represent relationship between different activities that are part of a project (Mohammad, Broek, Boots & Wong, 2016). It is in the form of a bar chart that was first introduced by Henry Gantt in 1910. It is primarily used in the scheduling process of a project. It clearly shows the tasks that are part of a projects, their starting dates and when they are going to end. A project planner can use these charts to illustrate a full progress of a project from start till end with activities placed in the time they would occur relevant to other activities. I have personally use Gantt chart once for a project planning assignment. The software that I used to creating a Gantt chart was Microsoft Project. I found it really useful. For this assignment, I would like to suppose a project that is aimed at delivering food to the needy in the streets of a city. As I further go with this assignment, I would provide details of the different activities and how Gantt Chart can be useful in this regard, planning the activities with a smooth flow. In the following section, I would like to shed some light on the benefits of the Gantt charts.
Benefits of Gant Charts
Gant charts have been widely used in planning projects due to the benefits that they have over other tools of project scheduling. Over here I would like to state some of the benefits of Gantt charts.
- Gant charts help project planners to put their activities in a streamlined manner where they would be able to see all the activities clearly. In other words, Gantt charts provide us with a facility to clarify when an activities would occur during the allocated time, what activities would be before it and what would be after it.
- Gantt charts can be used to communicate between teams to understand their responsibilities and when they would have to be performed. This would provide an opportunities to have lesser need for a face to face meeting for the project participants.
- Project teams can be motivated when they are given an opportunity to see their activities carved out on a piece of paper in the form of a chart. They would be able to anticipate their roles in the project.
- Project teams and team members can have more coordination when they have the opportunity to see who is doing what during the project life cycle. The Gantt chart is a clear detailed document telling the project teams and its members who is doing what and when.
- When project teams have the ability to see the activities and the time allocated to each activity they can creatively plan activities within the given time frame. Gant chart can be seen as a document that gives project teams to creatively plan different activities.
- Gantt charts makes proper scheduling of the project activities possible hence making it possible to manage the time efficiently and effectively for the project managers.
Advantages of Gant Charts in Project Management
The project that I have proposed would have different activities. Gantt chart can be really efficient in planning these activities. What I can do with a Gantt chart is plan and schedule these activities and divide these activities in to sub activities for an efficient management. For example if I have 3 main activities of 1. Collecting funds for buying the food for the needy people 2. Identifying and purchasing the food for distribution and 3. Distributing the food. These activities may look to be simple to execute from their face value but they are really complex activities. What Gantt chart can help me with is better plan these activities and divide them to smaller activities. In the following figure I have given an example of how a Gantt chart might look like in my projects. I have planned all the activities over 7 days. In reality these activities may take weeks or even months if a real project is implemented.
When we look at the above Gantt chart, it has all the benefits that I earlier mentioned in this paper. I am going to list these benefits in relation to the project activities that can be seen in the Gantt chart.
- From the Gantt chart, it is clear how many activities are going to be a part of the project and how they will be placed in relation to each other. For example now we know that the project has three activities and these three activities have further sub activities.
- Three teams can be assigned to this project to perform the three activities. All of these three team would be clearly aware of which day of the project they need to perform their activities.
- This Gant chart would motivate all the three teams and its members about their role in the project. They would be able to prepare for their functions on the assigned day.
- The three teams can coordinate more clearly with each other as now they know when to expect each team to complete their activities.
- The teams can work within and distribute different sub activities among the team members as they are aware of the number of the sub activities they have to perform and the amount of time they have for each activity.
- I as a project manager would feel confident about the successful complementation of the project on time as I am now clear of the schedule of the project activities.
- A project manager would be able to see which team would be in action at what time of the project life cycle. The project manager can contact these team on the exact time when they are performing their duties and discuss with them their progress.
Disadvantages and Limitations of Gantt Charts
Though it is safe to say that Gantt charts are useful in the project life cycle to a greater extant, they also have some limitations that might pose some disadvantage for their use in the project that I am supposing to schedule with the help of a Gantt chart. Some of these disadvantages are listed below (“Advantages and Disadvantages of Gantt Charts”, 2016).
- In the Gant chart that I presented earlier the activities are a few. That is why they are clear to understand. But in reality projects may have many more activities and the use of a Gantt chart may make them look more complex than how they actually are.
- As we can see that the sizes of the bars for activities look the same size. They do not depict the actual amount of work that would have to be put to each activity.
- The sub activities that I have shown in the Gant chart might need to be changed and moved around which would require to update the Gantt chart on a regular basis and redistributed among the project teams and its members.
- If the activities of the project exceed a certain limit, they might not be able to be printed on a single available paper.
Expected Results with Gantt Charts Utilization
What I expect with the Gantt chart is a timely completion of my project within the allocated 7 days. I expect that each of the three project teams is aware of their activities and the time allowed for these activities. I expect them to be fully involved within their tasks and know what other team are tasked to do. The team members can work together to distribute the sub activities in my opinion. At least this is what I expect from them. I think that Gantt chart would help us order our project activities and manage the project with a smooth flow of these activities.
I would like to conclude my discussion by pointing out the fact that project managers are always concerned with completing their projects on time. They should not only rely on Gantt charts for the successful completion of the projects. I mean there must be a differentiation between what a project manager wishes and what the project teams may deliver in return. A project manager should follow the Gantt chart and be in continuous contact with the teams that according to a Gantt chart should be in action at a certain time.