How to use GANTT Chart ‘Baseline’ and ‘Critical Path’ Features in TimeLinx

Part 1 of a 2-Part Series)

By Mark E. Engelberg, TimeLinx

GANTT Charts are a powerful tool for managing jobs and projects across many industries. Available in different views such as by job name or resource commitments, they provide a visual representation of project timelines and tasks which will help you and your team stay on track and on schedule. However, GANTT charts such as those in TimeLinx are enhanced with the additional capabilities of baseline and critical path functions. In this article, we will explore how these functions can be used to improve project management and what benefits they provide.

What is a Baseline in a GANTT Chart?

A Baseline is a snapshot of your project schedule at a specific point in time. It represents the original plan for your project, including start and end dates for each task. By creating a baseline, you can compare your actual progress against your original plan and identify any deviations from the plan.

To create a baseline in a GANTT chart, you first define your project or job plan, set your start and end date, and add the tasks with start and end dates. In TimeLinx versions released in 2021 with our integrated GANTT chart system, this is done automatically right when you save your project/job. TimeLinx creates the GANTT chart with the baseline from the tasks’ planned start and end dates. If using a standalone project management tool such as Microsoft Project, you simply save the chart. Once it’s saved, that’s your baseline. Then as you work on your project and update your Project or standalone GANTT chart with actualstart and end dates for each task, you can compare the baseline value with the actual schedule you have been updating. This can be done at any time as the project continues. By viewing these comparisons, you can identify delays that may need to be addressed.

What are the Benefits of a Baseline in a GANTT Chart?

The use of a baseline in a GANTT chart provides several benefits, including:

  1. Comparison: The baseline provides a reference point for comparing your actual progress against your original plan. This can help you identify any deviations from the plan and take corrective action.
  2. Accuracy: By tracking actual progress against the baseline, you can ensure that your project remains on track and on schedule.
  3. Visibility: The baseline provides a clear and concise snapshot of your project plan. This can help you communicate the project’s progress to stakeholders and team members.

What is the Critical Path in a GANTT Chart?

The Critical Path is the sequence of tasks that must be completed on time for the project to be completed on schedule. It represents the longest path through the project, taking into account task dependencies and durations. By identifying the critical path, you can focus your efforts on the tasks that are most critical to the project’s success.

To identify the critical path in a GANTT chart, after adding the tasks, you need to define the dependencies between all of the tasks. In TimeLinx, simply click on the Critical Path button at the top of the chart and the critical Path will overlay the GANTT bar for each task.  In Microsoft Project, the critical path will be highlighted on the GANTT chart, making it easy to identify and track.

What are the Benefits of the Critical Path in a GANTT Chart?

The use of the critical path in a GANTT chart provides several benefits, including:

  1. Focus: By identifying the critical path, you can focus your efforts on the tasks that are truly critical to the project’s success. This will help ensure that you are using your time and resources effectively.
  2. Planning: The critical path will help you plan for contingencies and potential delays. By understanding which tasks are absolutely critical, you can prioritize your efforts to ensure that the project remains on track.
  3. Communication: The critical path provides a clear and concise representation of the project’s most important tasks. This can help you communicate the project’s progress and status to stakeholders and team members.

Summary

In summary, the use of Baseline and Critical Path functions in a GANTT chart will enhance project management and provide a number or real business benefits. By creating a Baseline, you can compare your actual progress against your original plan and identify any deviations from the plan. By identifying the Critical Path, you can focus your efforts on the tasks that are most critical to the project’s success. These functions can help ensure that your job stays on track, on schedule, and is completed successfully.

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About TimeLinx
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.

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