There is a good reason why the Gantt chart, developed over 100 years ago, is still being used to this day. With the advent of project management software (PM software), incorporating an interactive Gantt chart ejects project managers from the driver’s seat and drops them into the pilot’s seat. But what specifically makes a Gantt chart, especially an interactive model, so valuable for efficient and effective project management?
Get to know Gantt
Just in case you are unfamiliar with what a Gantt chart is, we will give you a brief overview.
A Gantt chart is a scheduling, budgeting and reporting tool using bar charts to track and monitor the progress of any given project. Instead of using solely mentally stifling numbers, the bars simplify the visual understanding of how long each step of a project takes, and what the following steps of the project will be.
They can range from the simple to complex, but the theory is the same: deadlines for tasks and the project as a whole are set, and daily monitoring of progress allows project managers to identify problem areas that need attention.
Here is an example of a simple Gantt chart:
Using Gantt charts in the above fashion are helpful, no doubt, but where a Gantt chart really shines is managing the scheduling of multifaceted, complex projects, such as this example:
Gantt charts can be applied for use in any industry that requires project management. Even an individual artist, such as a painter of portraits, can take advantage of the progress monitoring capability that Gantt provides.
As seen below, out of the 14 most commonly used features of PM software, Gantt charts are the fourth most commonly used, with 45% of PM software users divulging that it is of high value for managing their projects, even more so than budget management or cloud integration.
Why your PM software needs to feature interactive Gantt charts
1. Save time on schedule and progress understanding with visual charts
A picture speaks one thousand words
Pictures also speak one thousand numerics. When compared to studying text to wrap your head around data, pictures are processed and understood by our brains 60,000 times faster than text. The use of the bar charts in Gantt charts allows for not only an enormously more rapid understanding of project progress and scheduling at first glance, but images leave a longer lasting impression in our brains than text does.
The value is that each time a user returns to monitor progress the next day, or even week, the appearance of Gantt chart’s composition is more familiar than if returning back to a page full of plain numbers and text. This saves time, and allows project managers to make quicker decisions on how to address slow progress or tasks that are completed ahead of schedule
2. Everyone on the same page at all times; saving time on communication
Using PM software with interactive Gantt charts is not only helpful for the project manager, but team members as well. If you are using PM software, all users will have access to the project details, including the Gantt chart.
This reduces confusion as to whose task is whose and saves managers the time it would typically take to physically check in and verbally confirm the progress being made by a team member.
If a team member is slightly behind on a task they will be readily aware once they open the PM software and look at the chart. They will not need to be physically visited and informed that they are slightly behind; they already know. In the worst case scenario, if they are falling far behind, it is readily apparent to each party, and the manager can simply message them through the software to see what the problem is, and devise a solution.
3. Motivation to meet or beat deadlines
Using a Gantt chart brings clarity to your task and project deadlines for each member of your project. Users can clearly see their progress, where they are at that day, and also a visual representation of how close or far they are from their task deadline.
The ability to see your deadline, rather than just jotting down a date on a scrap of paper, affords a prescience that cannot be ignored for team members regarding deadlines.
4. Enhanced project efficiency
Gantt charts facilitate greater project efficiency in more ways than one, but the most significant way in which efficiency is increased is the coherent manner in which tasks are assigned and visible to project staff.
Some tasks are easier to complete than others, and some of your team members will be able to work more quickly than other members. Another advantage that makes an interactive Gantt chart a must-have for your project management is how darn easy it is for one to see their current, and future tasks.
If a team member finishes their task ahead of deadline and is still waiting for colleagues to complete their own tasks, they can easily see what their next task is and get to working on it. They do not need to hunt down their project manager and inquire into what they should be doing next. As a manager, ask yourself why you are not already taking advantage of this feature.
5. Interactivity allows for seamless scheduling adjustments
Using an interactive Gantt chart makes scheduling adjustments a breeze. In the event that a deadline needs to be shortened or extended managers can simply click and slide the bar, and when new tasks need to be assigned they are simply created, dragged and dropped into the chart.
In your PM software these scheduling adjustments happen in real-time, allowing for your assigned team members to pounce on tasks as soon as they are created.
What else would you want to use for scheduling and budgeting?
Interactive Gantt charts are practically an essential for your project management if you want to harness full control and flexibility concerning your budget, scheduling, and project monitoring. If you are already using, or looking to adopt PM software as your project management platform, the benefits of incorporating interactive Gantt charts will be felt immediately.
About the Author
Pavel is a doctor who happens to have an MBA degree and a strong passion for writing. "I am a do-it-all kind of person: When I am not writing, I am busy curing people, when I am not curing people, I tend to kill WCG competitions. Life is fun, and full of wonders: Do what you enjoy most, even if it’s everything at once."More Content by Pavel Aramyan