Gantt charts are boooring

Gantt charts are boring

Who said that?!

What? Who said this? It’s the title of the blog, so I’m saying it. But why? The Gantt chart (also known as a Gantt diagram or a bar diagram) is a useful tool for presenting activities on a time axis in project management. Maybe it is a bit boring because it’s been around for over one hundred years. [1]. How crazy! This in turn poses the question as to why it is still a popular project planning tool. But I don’t want to detail the virtues of the Gantt diagram today. That would really get boring. Instead, I want to explain the (hidden) possibilities for working efficiently with this tool. So off we go!

Use colors

Colors are a great tool for conveying certain information without language. Red is clearly a warning, so it’s recommended for activities that are behind schedule. Unless you live and work in China. There, red is associated with positive values like joy, happiness or wealth[2]. So you might need to think of another color there.

You can decide on the colors – normally this is helpful for a Gantt chart. In the following example, I have used dark blue for activities, light blue for work packages, green for milestones and grey scales for release, team and sprint activities:

Gantt chart with custom colors

Gantt chart with custom colors

Of course, you can also select another color code that reflects all work packages and activities that belong together: activity 1 and all subordinate work packages in blue, activity 2 in green, etc.

Let me point out here that there are no limits to your color preferences and you can pick different colors for different projects. Maybe you want the Gantt chart to be glittering pink or maybe fifty shades of grey? Just do it! But heed a warning: make sure it makes sense and is clear to the viewer!

Determine what information you need

You shouldn’t go without language just because you have colors. Because sometimes you need more than just the bars in the diagram – for example, because the project has grown and the plan is no longer clear. Maybe you would like to print it out and hang it on the wall to have a better overview. Now the plan’s so big that it’s spread over multiple sheets and it’s hard to allocate individual activities. Additionally it would be helpful to be able to make out allocated project groups or employees on the Gantt chart. That’s why the bars should be labelled, like in the following image:

Gantt chart with labels

Gantt chart with labels

I have also displayed the state and the start and end date for each activity.

Compare versions of the Gantt chart

The use of colors and labels in the Gantt diagram is nice, but a bit boring, isn’t it? Well, here’s another option for the Gantt chart:

Imagine you had developed a project plan and a Gantt chart at the start of the project, but now you want to change something in it but you can’t estimate how this will affect deadlines. To do this, you have to move activities, create new work packages and delete other ones. How do these changes affect the plan, especially milestones?

To answer this question, you can work with baselines. Maybe you remember the blog post where I wrote about baselines in requirements engineering. They can also be used in project planning to create reference points and compare the planned and current state. Look at the following graphic:

Result of comparing two versions of the Gantt chart

Result of comparing two versions of the Gantt chart

Here, I am comparing the current state of the Gantt chart to the originally planned one. You can see the work packages that have moved (in red) and milestones that are affected. The green plus button shows which work package has been added. The yellow symbol means changes.

Don’t like the effects of these changes and want to change the plan another way? No problem, because as always with requirements engineering baselines, you can restore the original project plan and Gantt chart and try out all changes – you have created a reference point with the baselines.

Share the diagram with others – the right way

And then there is another feature that is valuable in your day to day project work:

Normally you need feedback on project planning: from colleagues, superiors or other stakeholders. So you need a file version of the Gantt chart. You can send it to stakeholders via email, write “I need feedback”, name a date that you want to the feedback and attach the relevant file.

Or create the file in a location that all project participants have access to. Depending on the size of your organization you’ll hardly be able to go without a notification e-mail. If the file type is that of specific planning software, all recipients have to have it installed to be able to open the file. So is there a more efficient way?

Gantt charts with objectiF RPM

With objectiF RPM, you can share project elements like the Gantt chart with a special command and then forward them to another project participant. The diagram stays in the original project context without creating numerous files with unknown states. On the other hand, all stakeholders can access it simply with a browser – they don’t need to have objectiF RPM installed.

Share the Gantt chart via email

Share the Gantt chart via email

Furthermore, you can use the feature Share to generate an email with a standard text and a hyperlink to the Gantt chart. Customize the content, select the recipient and click on Send. Done. The other stakeholders have been informed.

Share email

If you share the Gantt chart via email, then you mail program opens with the email and standard text

Of course, the other features mentioned here are also available in objectiF RPM. Check out our free trial edition to get an idea of how to plan your projects with Gantt charts. Have fun! (And maybe don’t make your Gantt charts too pink…)

See also:

[1] Wikipedia: Gantt chart. Retreived from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gantt_chart
[2] Wikipedia: Red. Retreived from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red#In_different_cultures_and_traditions

Lisa May is a part of our marketing team. She is interested in making new, interesting or curious knowledge entertaining and easy to understand. As a professional technical writer and translator, she can not only write in German, she can also reach our English-speaking readers.

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