In a project-centric organization, project managers need to manage multi-faceted projects simultaneously. The onus is on them to review, monitor, and control every project attribute and ensure its successful delivery. Every project is subdivided into multiple tasks, which may have interdependencies. Project milestones are carefully planned to track progress at different stages so that there is no last-minute surprise.
However, if you still rely on cumbersome spreadsheets for project planning, you will lose out on real-time updates due to disparate data. Once you miss a deadline, the entire project can get derailed. It will lead to unsuccessful project delivery and also adversely affect the company’s bottom line.
As per Gallup, only 2.5% of companies successfully deliver 100% of their projects.
So, what can you do?
A visual overview of the project schedule can save you from these unwanted outcomes. It can show when a task will end, what the task dependencies are, and which resource is working on what task. This is where a Gantt Chart is helpful. It depicts the overall project roadmap with resource schedules on a single platform in real-time.
In this blog, we shall discuss Gantt charts’ various benefits and how they help in optimizing resources.
But first, let’s start with the definition.
1. What is a Gantt Chart?
A Gantt chart is a type of bar chart that illustrates the project schedule in detail. It is a visual representation of the project tasks/activities displayed along with the duration and milestones. It typically outlines all the tasks in the project systematically, shows the task interdependencies and the current schedule of those tasks.
A Gantt chart comprises a task list with a horizontal bar that can slide forward or back to capture each task’s durations. It eases a project manager’s workload by representing progress made against the resource(s) explicitly assigned to execute and complete it.
It was first conceived by Polish engineer-cum-economist Karol Adameicki in 1896, who called it the harmonogram. But it was largely unknown as it was written in Polish.
American engineer Henry Gantt’s version of the activity schedule eventually took off, inspiring an entire range of software suites to embed the Gantt chart component.
Now that we know what Gantt charts are, let’s understand the importance of this tool.
2. What is the importance of a Gantt Chart?
A Gantt chart equips you with a visual representation of each task to oversee the big picture of any project. You can use it to schedule, assign, and track project tasks from initiation to completion. It also lets you monitor the project progress and take necessary actions when needed. By recording your project’s tasks systematically against estimated completion dates, you’ll know which competencies within your project teams will be leveraged to smoothen out the workload.
As the project moves forward, a Gantt chart adjusts accordingly and provides a real-time updated project schedule to keep everyone informed of the progress.
Let’s acknowledge all the benefits that Gantt charts provide.
3. Benefits of Gantt Charts in Project Delivery
To provide a clearer view of why Gantt charts are so important in project management, here is a rundown of all the benefits of using them,
1. Eases visual depiction of interdependent tasks
In a project, almost all tasks are related to one another. For example, if ‘Task A’ does not get completed, you cannot start ‘Task B,’ and if ‘Tasks A and B’ don’t get completed, you can’t begin ‘Task C.’ Interdependencies along the project’s critical path are inevitable and very hard to manage.
You can easily handle these situations with the Gantt chart. These charts are used for documenting a project’s interlinked activities, dependencies, and scheduled duration. It also allows for schedule adjustments in case of occurrence of the following events:
- If a task starts earlier or later than expected.
- Critical tasks are running in parallel.
- If interlinked dependencies require the same (or different) quantity and quality of resources.
- If preceding tasks risk delaying the commencement of succeeding tasks.
These charts let you determine how resources can be shared optimally across multiple inflight projects. You can schedule them in a way that they don’t impact the critical tasks.
Therefore, the more you see, the better you can rearrange and accommodate in-tray tasks into the schedule.
2. Provides seamless project team collaboration
Gantt charts provide crystal clear communication. These charts incorporate resource timesheets against tasks to which individual staff has been allocated. This way, project teams are informed of each others’ efforts with a rundown of pending tasks, running or completed. It also eliminates the need for having a separate communication tool.
It also provides information on those tasks with extended timelines and tasks finished on time or ahead of schedule. The team’s availability, competencies, and utilization rates all add up to ensure no single staff is over or underutilized during the project.
Moreover, it prevents unnecessary rework or errors, with mission-critical work being assigned only to the right personnel. No task would risk overlapping or delaying succeeding work. It matches the existing resources and their capabilities such that their competencies are optimally utilized.
3. Measures project performance
Project managers often face difficulty in delivering complex projects within the deadline, and at times, they become overwhelmed. A Gantt chart helps improve time management. As you have a clear view of the timeline’s tasks, you can efficiently allocate time between the tasks and have a clear focus.
A striking advantage of using a Gantt chart is that it lets you measure the project’s progress and performance based on the number of milestones reached. It also measures whether the milestones were achieved before, after, or within the proposed date.
With a list of project milestones in hand, you can note the skill sets that helped in the overall task execution strategy. This makes it easier to plan for future projects while incentivizing performances and retain highly qualified resources for the long run.
4. Provides real-time scheduling data
A Gantt chart is used for tracking project schedules, thus ensuring high-priority and mission-critical tasks aren’t sidetracked. Your teams can then focus and collaborate to get the job completed. This stems from the fact that it lists tasks by their time sensitivity and criticality to let project managers create a priority log objectively.
Simply put, only when you see all scheduled tasks will you know if you’ve accounted for the project’s constraints in their entirety.
With real-time scheduling data, you prevent the risk of leaving lengthy and complex tasks for the last. More importantly, you can re-assess the availability of your resource pool if their schedule gets compromised due to market volatility or any other circumstances. The easy drag and drop feature of Gantt charts help you develop efficient scheduling.
These charts also allow you to record adjusted timelines following a task finishing earlier or later than estimated.
For example, if a specific tasks’ efforts are estimated to take five days but finish in 3 days instead, the next activity can be pushed up the queue to be worked on an earlier start date.
5. Generates resource utilization heatmaps
With Gantt charts, you can allocate the right resources to the right tasks as you have complete visibility of the whole process. The benefit of Gantt charts here is that they display a list of resource profiles by their quantity, location, relevant experience, capabilities, and competencies. You can view which tasks they’re on and prevent scheduling conflicts ahead of the curve.
With a resource utilization heatmap, you’ll retrieve instant insights on billable utilization. It lets you improvise future schedules created on a Gantt chart. The heatmaps are color-coded, and each color depicts the utilization rate of the resources. For instance, a green-colored heatmap shows that a resource has a 100-105% utilization rate, optimally utilized. In contrast, an orange-colored heatmap shows that a resource has a utilization rate of over 105%, which is over-utilized. Depending on that, resources are then shared or re-deployed based on their availability and ability to complete tasks efficiently.
Moreover, based on the heatmap, you can conduct resource leveling to free up over-utilized resources. You can extend the slack deadline as per the overwhelmed resource’s schedule. You can even bring in an under-utilized resource as a helping hand. That way, you can use the resources at an optimal level.
6. Improves data-driven decision-making
Gantt charts let you see things with a lot more clarity. As you can instantly see the progress of tasks, it helps you and the team members to develop a better understanding of how things are going in the project. It summarizes the complex data into simple information that helps in effective decision-making.
Gantt charts highlight essential tasks on a critical path. You can identify the tasks that have more impact on the project’s success and make decisions accordingly. Also, You will know what is working and what needs to be changed to achieve the goals. This not only brings more lucidity but the data-driven analysis also helps bring accountability.
4. How resource optimization can be done with Gantt Charts
Gantt charts help managers develop a graphical illustration of the schedules that help plan, coordinate, and track resources as per the tasks involved in the process. It allows them to utilize the resources at an optimal rate.
Here is how project managers can use Gantt charts to ensure resource optimization:
Create a WBS and identify task dependencies
The work breakdown decomposes project activities into several smaller components. You’ll also see the resources needed.
You can document all known activities to determine which tasks are mutually exclusive or interlinked. This way, you’ll estimate the timeframe of the activity schedule and determine the ones that overlap or remain independent of the chain’s preceding activities. You can evaluate milestones at every stage and prioritize tasks based on the critical timeline.
Complete the Gantt Chart along with the critical path tasks
The critical path is the sequence of tasks that must be completed to make the project successful. A task is considered critical if:
- It has no slack/float.
- It has start and end dates that cannot be delayed.
The critical path identifies essential deadlines and the activities which must be completed on time. It helps in defining task duration and the whole project timeline. To identify essential path tasks, project managers use the critical path method (CPM) algorithm.
The critical path method includes:
- Identifying tasks and their interdependencies.
- Estimating project duration
- Identifying critical path tasks
- Planning and scheduling necessary activities
Classify tasks with slacks
Float or slack defines how much a task can be delayed without impacting the project schedule. Calculating the float can help you distribute resources more effectively.
Critical path analysis detects all of the critical and non-critical tasks involved in the project. It helps define the amount of float or slack time associated with each to arrive at a reasonable overall deadline. Moreover, it enables you to define and optimize resource schedules.
Prioritize experienced resources to critical path tasks
After defining the critical path, you gain insight into which tasks should be prioritized. Based on that, you can allocate the necessary resources. You can deploy resources based on their experience and capacity. That way, you can balance your team’s workloads while avoiding the under or over-utilization of resources.
You can allocate critical path tasks to resources that are more experienced and would not require much guidance. On the other hand, you can assign the tasks with slacks to less experienced resources. Also, the resources can be appropriately managed and utilized to their full potential, ultimately increasing their productivity.
Deliver projects using an optimal number of resources
Gantt chart ensures that you achieve the optimization of project resources with balanced scheduling and workload management. You can perform leveling or smoothing based on the time sensitivity of projects to ensure optimal resource health index. It enhances the overall performance of the project team, resulting in the timely delivery of projects.
Gantt charts have been in existence for hundreds of years and have served several thousands of projects. There’s a simple reason for its popularity; it visually depicts time-sensitive tasks, activities, and events to get the project delivered in the shortest duration possible.
The Gantt chart has interested experienced and newly qualified project professionals alike. Given that the right resources prevent cost overruns and delays, playing around with a Gantt chart template gives you a fair idea of how resource and project schedules should stick to the plan.
It’s time to watch your projects come alive with Saviom Enterprise Resource Management’s Gantt scheduler.
6. Saviom Solution
SAVIOM has over 20 years of experience helping multinational clients manage their resources efficiently and effectively. With over 20 years of experience, this Australian-based MNC has a global presence across 50 countries and has helped 100+ clients meet their specific business goals. Saviom also provides tools for project portfolio management, professional service automation, and workforce planning software. So, SAVIOM can help your business to establish an efficient system geared towards your specific business challenges.