The temptation to carry out a project without planning is great, especially with the first, smaller projects. In the beginning, only a few people are involved, and the tasks, the timing and responsibilities seem to be clearly defined. Everything is easy!
Then, the project begins and expectation meets reality. Suddenly, something turns out to be considerably more complicated, someone is ill and some service provider does not deliver as expected. The customer calls, he reiterates that he actually needs the project as soon as possible. And then he asks the question: when will it be ready?
At one point, the project manager has to admit that he has lost the overview somewhere. Pending tasks get mixed up, important deadlines are not met – and then it becomes clear: planning has to be done!
A simple solution: The Gantt-Chart
If you are working on a project, you cannot avoid project planning. Planning is the definitive step for the successful implementation of projects. This applies equally to both small and large projects because even smaller projects have complex tasks, involve risks and have to coordinate several project participants.
Gantt diagrams have established themselves as a planning instrument in project management. Gantt charts have only 2 axes: one (vertical) shows the tasks in the project, the other (horizontal) shows the time period in which these tasks are to be completed.
At first, this seems very simple, but even this simple version of a Gantt chart has enormous advantages. You can see at a glance when what is supposed to happen. It is also easier to deal with dependencies between different tasks. For example, if task 4 cannot be completed until task 2 has been completed, the effects of delays in task 2 can be quickly assessed and scheduled. In addition, the Gantt chart is suitable for quick success control on the road. If task 1 on day 3 is not completed, it’s immediately clear that something is not going as it should, and we can consider the best way to deal with the situation.
Another advantage of Gantt charts is that they can be created quickly and easily and kept up to date. They are simply one of the most effective methods of displaying activities on a time-related basis. Gantt charts provide you with a simple tool for project planning that can make a big impact with little time invested. It’s no wonder that Gantt charts have established themselves as one of the most frequently used tools in project management.
To support your company in project management, we have created a Gantt chart Excel template. This template is a bit more complex than the illustration above, but you can also track who is responsible for which task and which task has already been completed to what percentage. But even if the complexity has increased a bit, the biggest advantage of the Gantt chart remains: you can simply see at a glance what is happening and when.
With our template, your company can try out the planning tool before investing in project management software. The Gantt chart Excel template contains explanations on how to fill in the individual fields, as well as formulas that generate your chart after data entry.
How our Excel template works
To create a Gantt chart, you first need a detailed project plan. The basic idea behind Gantt charts is to first name tasks and subtasks and then determine the time needed for them. So a project plan consists of a series of related tasks that have to be completed in a certain order.
For example, if you want to paint a room, you can’t start before you have put all the furniture out of the room. However, you could start by mixing the colour while a friend removes all the furniture from the room in the meantime.
The first step on the way to a project plan is, therefore, the creation of a project structure plan – a technique for subdividing aspects of the project into individual tasks. For example, the tasks “provide colour” and “mix colour” belong to the partial aspect “colour”.
In addition to the individual tasks, the sequence in which the tasks must be completed must also be defined. For example, you must first provide the color before you mix it. Once entered, the Gantt chart immediately shows whether tasks run parallel or one after the other.
After you have noted down the duration and start date of the individual activities, our template creates bars in the Gantt chart. The duration determines the length of the bars in the calendar. In addition, the end date of the activities is calculated automatically.
In addition to our Gantt-Chart Excel Template, special Gantt chart software can also be used for project management. Companies can use the Excel template to gain insight into the planning instrument. Simply use the template for a while for your personal project planning to get to know the Gantt chart tool. However, special software solutions, unlike Excel, have some advantages. Specialised software is much easier to use and clearer in a presentation. You also save a lot of manual input and updates, especially if the software can easily transfer important data from other systems via interfaces.
Companies can also invest in complete project management software. In addition to planning instruments such as the Gantt chart, these also offer functions such as time recording, task management, project collaboration, etc.
Test different solutions to find out which one best suits your needs. But no matter which solution you ultimately choose, the Gantt chart will almost certainly become a central building block of your project management.
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