Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Working Smarter: Getting Organized with Gantt Charts

One of the most useful topics I covered during my management studies was project management. When you think of it, everything we do in our linear lives can be considered a project. Even something like preparing for a holiday, because there are numerous steps to carry out: arrange travel bookings and accommodation, someone to look after the pets, the house, maybe collect the mail, obtain passports etc.

I have used Program Evaluation and Review Techniques (PERT) critical path analysis to run several major projects, but have most often used good old Gantt charts to help me organize my work.

Gantt charts come in all shapes and sizes, but usually set out vertical and horizontal dimensions as in the image above. I have always used the horizontal line for dates and the vertical column to include activities that happen on various dates. This is possibly because most of my management has involved students, classes, teachers, examinations, graduations etc. Your needs could be different, but once you understand the principle, it's easy to design something suitable.

What I like most about Gantt charts is you can combine colors and codes and communicate a significant amount of information on one page. This is an excellent way to communicate with teams, customers or others in a succinct way and often helps get agreement between teams or stakeholders involved in projects.

If you work where you need to be organized and especially if there are dozens of things you need to remember, try using a Gantt chart to help you organize and meet deadlines. Once you become accustomed to using them, you will never go back to your old system.

To make things easier for you, I'm providing a free Excel Gantt chart for calendar 2013 and a semester two, 2012 Gantt chart which you can download here at the Gifts page. (No signup required).

Alternatively, you can buy software programs that help you create a range of Gantt and other charts.

Are you a Gantt chart user already? What do you use them for? Comment and let us know.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the Gantt chart ... saves a lot of time setting up. It's just what I need to program sports events.


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