How to Get Started Using GANTT Charts
(Part 2 of a 2-Part Series)
By Mark E. Engelberg, TimeLinx
GANTT charts are an excellent tool for managing projects/jobs of all types across most industries. In my previous post, I discussed using Baseline and Critical Path functions in a GANTT chart. But if that’s too advanced a stage for you right now and you are just getting started with GANTT charts, here are 10 recommendations to help you along. Note that I use “project” and “job” interchangeably as different words are used in different industries.
1. Define Your Goals and Objectives
Before you start creating your GANTT chart, you need to define your project/job’s goals and objectives. This will help you determine the scope of your project and begin to identify the tasks that need to be performed. Make sure that your goals and objectives are clear and measurable so you can track your progress throughout the project. The goals and objectives aren’t usually inside the GANTT chart itself but should be written down somewhere. However, start and end dates are necessary for a GANTT chart to function.
2. Identify All of the Tasks
Once you’ve defined the goals and objectives of the work, now you need to identify all the tasks that need to be performed to achieve them. Make a list of all the tasks and subtasks involved in the job. Be as detailed as possible to ensure you don’t miss anything important. In TimeLinx, Tasks are created under on the Tasks tab or added directly to the empty GANTT chart.
3. Create Your GANTT Chart
Create your GANTT chart using software like Microsoft Project, Excel, or any other GANTT chart tool you prefer. In TimeLinx, it will already have been created as part of the job record. Add the tasks you identified in the previous step.
4. Assign Resources to Each Task
Next, begin to assign resources to each task. This includes people, equipment, vehicles, materials, and meeting rooms. If your scheduling calendar is integrated with the GANTT system like in TimeLinx, you’ll immediately see who can work or if the equipment is available on specific dates. If not, refer and forth to get the resources assigned.
5. Estimate Task Durations
Assigning task resources in the GANTT from the calendar should be showing the availability of those resources and any conflicts with other work. This is true for people, equipment, and vehicles so they all will determine when those tasks can be performed and when each can move the project along. If you haven’t read the prior article on using Baseline and Critical Path functions, now would be a good time to get acquainted with those.
6. Determine Task Dependencies
Some tasks may be dependent on others, meaning that they can’t be started until another task is partially or fully completed. Determine these dependencies and use the GANTT chart features to connect them together. This will get you thinking about how important the sequence of events is towards completing the job.
Typically, the tasks are connected like this:
In this image, the small Calendar icons on certain lines represent calendar activities in TimeLinx.
7. Set Milestones
Milestones are important events that mark significant progress in your project. They are often linked to a single or to multiple task completion. A milestone might also identify when a payment is due for the tasks linked to it. If there is a milestone, it is usually shown next to a diamond shape. Set milestones for your project and mark them on your GANTT chart. This will help you and your team stay motivated and focused on completing the project milestone by milestone.
8. Monitor Progress
As you work on your project, you must monitor your progress and update your GANTT chart accordingly. This will help you stay on schedule and identify any issues or delays that must be addressed.
9. Communicate With Your Team
Communication is key to the success of any project. Ensure you communicate regularly with your team about the project’s progress and any changes to the GANTT chart. This will help ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals. Some systems will send notifications out via text or email to interested parties when changes are made. That’s a huge timesaver.
10. Adjust Your GANTT Chart as Needed
Finally, be prepared to adjust your GANTT chart as needed. Projects rarely go exactly as planned, so you may need to change your chart as you encounter unexpected issues or delays. By monitoring your progress and staying flexible, you can ensure that your project stays on track and is completed successfully.
GANTT charts are an excellent tool for managing jobs. By following these ten recommendations, you can create a GANTT chart to help you and your team stay on track, on schedule, and focused on achieving your project’s goals and objectives. With careful planning, monitoring, and communication, you can ensure that your work is a success.
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TimeLinx delivers innovative project & service management software as a complete solution that perfects the sell-track-manage-support-bill cycle that services organizations must have to delight their customers; TimeLinx brings the cycle together in a single application that offers less frustration, better project management, complete reporting, and improved profitability – all specially designed for Infor and Sage.