Gantt Chart for Project Management
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- May 27, 2020 Updated
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A Gantt chart is an effective management tool for projects of any size. Project details are entered in the “Work Breakdown” section, allowing you to then track your project’s timeline on a bar chart. This provides you a workable visualization of your project’s progress from start to finish.
When you begin planning your project, having software to help you create that Gantt chart can give your plan a jumpstart. Because they’re such an effective tool, some of the leading software developers in the world offer Gantt charts on their websites – if you can afford them.
But you don’t have to break the bank to use these incredible tools. You only need to download our free template into the Excel program that is likely already installed on your computer.
Our Example of Gantt Chart for Project Management template has built-in formulas and formatting to provide the most useful tools that Gantt Charts offer, which makes managing projects that much easier. And the template works right in Microsoft Excel on both Windows and Mac.
Our template includes what you need in a Gantt chart to manage and track multiple projects, milestones and tasks, dependencies, resources, deadlines, and progress. Plus, this Gantt template is prefilled with examples to give any project manager a great start.
Now if you’re ready to build a Gantt chart, here are the elements and features of our template, wrapped into one detailed and helpful how-to.
This template includes four files; two for Windows and two for Mac. Those that contain “with completion” in the filename have the Percent Complete column feature explained further in the tutorial.
- Gantt Chart for Managers Windows (does not contain Percent Complete column)
- Gantt Chart for Managers Mac (does not contain Percent Complete column)
- Gantt Chart for Managers with Completion Windows
- Gantt Chart for Managers with Completion Mac
How to Create the Gantt Chart
The Gantt chart format in this spreadsheet provides you with a large area to see both the work breakdown structure on the left and the Gantt chart view on the right. With these two sections working together, you get a clear picture of your project timeline and project schedule, plus a simple way to track the completion of your project.
Start by entering the basic project details. Then, move onto the work breakdown structure section.
The basics for this chart template include the Company Logo, Company Name and the Start of Planning date. You’ll see these fields in the upper left corner of the template. Just click each cell to enter these details.
For the Start of Planning field, enter the start date for your project. You can use whichever date format is most comfortable for you and the template will reformat it as you see in our example. So, you can enter June 4, 2019 or 6/4/19 and the template will format it as 04-Jun-19.
Once you enter the date, the weeks in the Gantt view will automatically update. Remember that the chart week date will always start on a Monday. So, if you enter a Start of Planning date of Tuesday, June 4, the Gantt chart will start on Monday, June 3.
Work Breakdown Structure
When you finish entering the basic project details, you’ll move onto the work breakdown structure section. This is where you will enter your project milestones, resources, start and end dates, and percent complete.
Projects and Milestones
This template lets you manage multiple projects at the same time with milestones or project tasks.
Enter the name of your first project in the row and cell labeled Project 1 and then continue with additional project names in the subsequent project rows and cells.
Note: This is the only information you’ll enter in dark gray project rows; the other elements will calculate and populate automatically from your milestone data.
The task list is beneath each project. This is where you enter the names of the milestones or tasks and dependencies for the project.
Adding More Project Sections
This chart template has rows for four projects and four milestones or tasks within each. If you have more than four projects, you can insert additional project sections.
- Select a project section including the project row and attached milestone rows by clicking the row numbers on the left side of the Excel sheet and dragging through the range.
- Right-click and select Copy.
- With the rows still selected, right-click and select Insert Copied Cells. This should place your new project section directly above the one you copied.
Adding More Milestone Rows
If you only need to add rows for milestones or tasks, you can do this within any project section.
- Select a milestone row by clicking the number on the left side of the Excel sheet.
- Right-click the row and select Copy.
- With the row still selected, right-click the row and select Insert Copied Cells. This should place your new milestone row directly above the one you copied.
As you enter the milestones, you can add the names of the resources directly to the right in the Responsible People column. This gives you a quick and easy way to see which team members are responsible for completing which tasks.
Start and End Dates
If you have the start and end dates for the tasks ready, enter those next or as you enter the milestones.
Just like the Start of Planning date, you can use whichever format is best for you and the template will reformat it.
The start and end dates in the dark gray project rows will populate automatically from the dates in the milestone rows for that project. The start date will be the earliest start date of all milestones in that section and the end date will be the latest end date of all milestones in that section.
Work Days Number
Do not enter any data in the Work Days Number column. As you enter the start and end dates for each milestone, the fields in this column will calculate automatically.
The Work Days Number field in the dark gray project row will be a sum of the numbers from the milestone rows for that project.
Percent Complete - Gantt Chart for Managers with Completion files
As your project progresses and you receive updates from your team, place a number in the corresponding Percent Complete field for each milestone. You can simply enter a number because the column is pre-formatted for percentage.
The Percent Complete field in the dark gray project row uses an average of the percentages from the milestone rows for that project to indicate the completion of the project.
The Chart View
The Gantt chart view on the right is where you can see your project timeline and critical path. The template uses the data from the work breakdown section to populate and format the Gantt chart.
The template is designed for 16 weeks and you can just scroll to the right in the chart view to see the upcoming weeks.
Formatting in the Gantt Chart
To help you plan your project and understand the chart clearly, each week begins on Monday, contains five workdays, and alternates lighter and darker blue for easier viewing.
Below the dates, you will see colored boxes for your projects and milestones, as with any progress Gantt chart. These boxes represent the number of workdays it will take for each to be finished along with the percent complete.
For instance, if milestone’s start date is June 4 and end date is June 20, that equals 13 workdays. So, you will see 13 light blue boxes in the chart view for that milestone.
Using that same example, if the percent complete for the milestone is 30%, three of the light blue boxes will display as dark blue. This gives you a fast way to view your project and milestone progress.
It works the same way for the projects in your Gantt chart but uses dark and light gray boxes.
Show or Hide Projects or Milestones
Another helpful feature of this Gantt chart template is that you can decide which projects and milestones to display in the chart view.
In the work breakdown structure section, you’ll see the far-left column labeled Show/Hide. To show a project or milestone in the chart view, click the corresponding cell in the Show/Hide column and mark the checkbox (Windows) or select Yes (Mac). To hide a project or milestone, uncheck the box (Windows) or select No (Mac).
You’ll see the chart view update immediately to show or hide the projects and milestones you choose.
For example, you may want a clear view of the critical path for Project 1 and its milestones. You would mark the checkboxes (Windows) or choose Yes (Mac) for those. Then uncheck the boxes (Windows) or choose No (Mac) for the remaining projects and milestones in the work breakdown section.
Another handy way to use the Show/Hide column is to view the timelines of all your projects without the milestones. So, you would mark the checkbox (Windows) or select Yes (Mac) for each dark gray project row and uncheck the boxes (Windows) or choose No (Mac) for all of the milestone rows.
Tips for Your Gantt Chart
For an extra boost when creating and working with your Gantt chart, here are a few helpful tips for project managers in most any industry.
- Stick to your start date. You need an anchor when you manage your project progress and percent complete.
- Control the lengths of your tasks. The longer the duration of a task, the more risk you run of unpredictability that can affect the critical path.
- Keep track of your resources. Adding the responsible people for each task or milestone can save you from overallocation of your resources, especially when there are dependencies.
Why You Should Use this Gantt Chart Template
Gantt charts have been used in project management since the 1800s, and with good reason. These charts, now created with software, provide project managers with an interactive graphical display of their project throughout its lifespan.
This free template provides automatic calculations and formatting, along with the functionality to show exactly what you want on the chart. It’s a solid management tool that helps you start your projects right and finish them with success.
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