13 January, 2022

How to Create a Gantt Chart in 9 Easy Steps | Video

In an earlier video, I described what a Gantt Chart is, in under 5 minutes. But I keep getting asked how to create one. So, in this video, I’ll show you exactly how to make a Gantt Chart.

This video is safe for viewing in the workplace.

This is learning, so, sit back and enjoy

Gantt Charts are Not about Software

A lot of people will think making a Gantt Chart starts with ‘first open your software app’.

It could not be further from the truth. And, in this video, I will make no assumptions about the tool you’ll use to create your Gantt Chart.

It could be:

  • Paper and pen
  • A drawing app, like PowerPoint, or Slides
  • A spreadsheet, like Excel, or Sheets
  • A Project Management tool like MS Project, or Gantt Pro
  • A full-on Project Management Information System 

Let’s look at the Nine Steps…

1. List your Tasks

The best place to start for this step is with your Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). Whether you represent your WBS as products or tasks, you can still get at the tasks easily. 

You need a fairly detailed list, that needs to cover everything.

And you’ll also want it grouped logically, into phases, themes, or workstreams.

Working from a WBS will help with both of these, so take a look at our video, ‘How to Create a Work Breakdown Structure: A WBS Masterclass’.

2. Set Your Constraints

Do any of your tasks have fixed start or completion dates that you have to respect. Add this information to your list of tasks.

3. Set Your Dependencies

Which tasks are dependent upon others? Usually, these will be Finish-to-Start dependencies, but others are possible though far less common. Start-to-Finish dependencies are vanishingly rare. We have a video on this.

Once you have your dependencies, there are two things you can do:

  • Add in any lags or leads
  • A lag is a gap between the tasks that are dependent. For example, Task B starts after Task A is complete, with a lag of 3 days (for example, for concrete to set or a coating to cure. A lead is a negative lag. So, if Task B starts 2 days before Task A finishes, this is a Finish-to-Start dependency with a 2 day lead.
  • Sequence the tasks within a group, to make your final Gantt Chart easier to read.

4. Allocate Resources to Tasks

Identify the right resources (people) for each task. Check their availability and confirm their willingness to work on the task. 

Where two tasks use the same person, you won’t be able to schedule them to happen at the same time – unless the person is working part-time on each.

5. Estimate Durations

For each task, estimate how long it will take the people you have allocated to that task to complete it. Consider the balance of your desire to keep things tight to speed progress along, against your need to ensure the people have enough time to handle learning, setbacks, and reasonable delays.

6. Create Your Gantt Chart Grid or Template

A Gantt Chart has rows that represent the tasks and columns that represent days, weeks, or some other time interval.

I recommend you block out weekends, holidays, and other known non-productive time, with shading.

7. Plot Your Activities onto Your Gantt Chart

8. Add Milestones to Your Chart

You can decide your milestones up-front, at the start of the process (Milestone Planning) and use them as constraints to help you plan. Or, you can select milestones from the completion of important tasks and groups of tasks. Or a combination of both. We have videos on Milestones for you to watch.

9. Make Your Gantt Chart as Useful as Possible

Apply color-coding and shading to make different tasks stand out. Use colors or labels to associate resources with tasks. Add arrows to indicate dependencies.

Whatever you do to make your Gantt Chart a better communication tool, always remember to add a key or legend, so that users can understand your coding.

How does a Gantt Chart fit into your larger Project Plan?

Do take a look at our video: Project Planning Process – How to Build Effective Project Plans

More carefully curated video recommendations for you:

What Kit does a Project Manager Need?

I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own. 

Check out the Kit a Project Manager needs

Note that the links are affiliated.

Learn Still More

For more great Project Management videos, please subscribe to the OnlinePMCourses YouTube channel.

If you want basic Management Courses – free training hosted on YouTube, with 2 new management lessons a week, check out our sister channel, Management Courses.

For more of our Project Management videos in themed collections, join our Free Academy of Project Management.

For more of our videos in themed collections, join our Free Academy of Project Management

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Mike Clayton

About the Author...

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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