Project Timeline
Project Management

3 min read

The Ultimate Guide to Mapping Project Timelines With Gantt Chart


Nov 2023


Multitasking is difficult. Our brain can’t perform two tasks that require high-level brain function at once. However, as a project manager, you ought to head the projects, look after your team assign tasks, and make them successfully to clients. It’s not a pie of cake and letting slip one thing could impact your overall project.

Luckily, you can use Gantt Chart techniques to take some strain out of your brain.

You might have heard the term Gantt Chart in your work environment or any project kickoff meeting. But certainly, you’re not sure what it is about and how you can leverage this with project management.

Well, FYI, Gantt charts are quite complex, the basics aren’t that hard to nail. Let’s break down Gantt Charts in this ultimate guide and learn more about this in detail -:

What is a Gantt Chart? 

Gantt Chart is a horizontal bar used to assist in the planning & scheduling of projects of all sizes. It lets you assign tasks, illustrate the timeline of projects, and monitor resource allocation, budget estimates, and dependencies.

At a basic level, Gantt chart project management helps portfolio managers and gig workers easily map out their project plans by organizing tasks with a specific timeline in one centralized place. It is popularly used in project planning, scheduling, tracking, and optimal resource allocation and management within the team.

This chart typically comprises two parts -:

  1. Vertical Axis (Left-side of the screen)
  2. Horizontal Axis (Right – side of the screen)

Such a graphical representation provides a clear visual for understanding the time to be taken by a particular task or step. With this information project managers compare their planned and completed work and amp up the speed of deliverables. You can get an overview of who’s doing what, what needs to get done, and when.

P.S. You can use this with other project management tools like Dashboard, Kanban Boards, and timesheets to foster team collaboration at the workplace.


Who invented the Gantt chart?

In 1896, Karol Adamiecki invented the first project management chart. But, why it isn’t called as Adamiecki Chart? Well, nice question!


Karol Adamiecki                   Henry Gantt

Karol Adamiecki            Henry Gantt


Well, Adamiecki created his predecessor to the Gantt Chart—known as the Harmonogram—in the late 19th century. But, he didn’t publish it until 1931. So, it got limited exposure during that particular period as it was published only in Polish.

However, Henry Gantt came into the picture. He leveraged his project management chart in the 1910s to a greater extent to widen its reach. And, that’s how it is known as Gantt Chart. Today, it’s available in every project management tool in varied types and sizes.


How to Make a Gantt chart?

Note that, no two Gantt charts look alike. So, no matter what project management tool you use, you need to consider a few steps to get you off the ground.

1. Define the timeline

Gantt Chart starts with a particular start and end date. Because it represents your project over a visual timeline. So, insert commencement and completion dates to have a bigger picture of your project.

Pro Tip: It’s obvious when you reach the finish line, you’re likely to have some additional follow-up tasks with your clients. Add them randomly in the chart to avoid last-minute surprises for the project due tomorrow.  

2. Break down tasks 

Project management Gantt chart is all about breaking complex projects into small tasks and measuring the task-by-task progress within a pre-defined timeline. Delineate groups and sub-groups of tasks save your hours and track multiple goals (parent or sub-goals) in a single dashboard.

3. Clarify dependencies

It is pretty obvious that with big projects there are tasks that require others to be completed as a prerequisite. To ensure that your project runs smoothly and each team remains coordinated, unlock the power of the Gantt chart to see dependencies between tasks.

For instance, the publication of the product blog post is dependent upon the review of the blog post which further depends on the writing of the blog post. The team cannot kick off the email campaign without drafting it first. Showing dependencies between these tasks will help the next team know things that they can start doing in their part of the project.

4. Pinpoint milestones

The milestone is marked as a fixed point in time, unlike the other tasks in a Gantt chart. It should be seen as a stopping point, indicating that big tasks have been finished. This enables your team to know what is most important and is awesome when done.

Pro Tip: Although milestones generally happen at the end of the phases, it doesn’t mean that you cannot develop milestones for your team because every team and project looks different.

Examples of milestones might look like:

  • Meetings
  • Project approvals
  • Task starting points
  • Mid-phase check-ins
  • Phase completion points

 5. Modify work as plans change

Plans can never remain the same and that is why your Gantt chart software fits your needs. Choose a project management tool that offers simple drag-and-drop tasks and synchronous time updating dependencies immediately. Such a tool will help you to remain on target with your project even when there is a change in the plan.


What Goes into a Gantt chart?

Gantt Chart plot tasks with a visual time. It further includes a combination of various aspects that help you gain valuable insight from your project dashboard. Here’s a quick rundown of what it takes to create a Gantt Chart for your projects -:

  • Task name – Enter the task name in your task management software and describe the tasks in a small description so team members can quickly identify them. 
  • Task owner or assignee Delegate tasks to respective team members and notify who is accountable to whom to form a structural pattern  
  • Task priority Set the priority of your tasks and choose the status of working. Choose whether to keep it private or public to plan for resource allocation ahead.
  • Due dates — Plot each task with a starting and ending date to allow the project manager to track progress and compare actual versus projected. You can choose a percentage complete marker to denote task progress more clearly & visibly.
  • Critical path activities — As a project manager identify the critical path activities on Gantt Chart. Such tasks are known as zero-float tasks because they take longer time than expected without impacting any of your projects.
  • Task dependencies — Study the dependencies of your tasks and organize them systematically by communicating them with the rest of your team.  


Gantt Charts V/S Kanban Board: Which Is The Best One? 

Gantt chart and Kanban are project management tools, but they are used differently and have unique advantages. In what circumstances should Gantt charts be applied compared to Kanban, let’s discuss this in detail. Here's a comparison of the two:

Gantt Charts

Use case: Choose Gantt charts for projects whose tasks and dependencies are well-defined. These are widely applicable in construction, and manufacturing among other industries with timely projects and a defined workable plan.

Timeline: Ideal for projects with pre-defined beginnings and ending. It lets you visualize your entire project planning and project schedule from start to the end.

Task dependencies: Ideal for managing and controlling the task dependencies. You can see what tasks are linear and what tasks you can do concurrently.

Resource management: Gantt charts help project managers monitor the resource's location and show you who’s responsible for respective tasks with a specific timeline.

Complexity: Ideal for complex projects that encompass more number of tasks and dependencies.


Kanban Board

Use Case: Kanban is more applicable to dynamic projects. Such projects require frequent changes and frequent improvements in operations. It is mostly applied in Agile and Lean approaches.

Timeline: Unlike many management tools, kanban does not involve time-boundedness, but rather concentrates on WIP and flow control. It is suitable for projects whose time frameworks remain dynamic.

Task dependencies: Kanban boards don’t emphasize task dependencies but rather focus on the current state of each task or work item.

TASK VIEWSResource management: Kanban is less about resource planning and more about visualizing and managing the flow of work through the system. It does not delegate tasks to individual team members but instead permits team members to self-assign their tasks.

Complexity: Kanban is preferable for simple projects or for those that must be adaptable and responsive to changes easily.

Essentially, Gantt charts work best in projects with strict plans and schedules, while Kanban is good in projects that need flexibility, continuous development as well and focus on flow. Sometimes, a mix of the two techniques may be necessary, where Gantt charts give an overall project timeline while the Kanban boards manage day-to-day work and monitor progress.

In the end, it is Gantt chart versus Kaban where the specific project requirements, as well as character, determine a decisive one.


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Project Management