Gantt Schedule Planner
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A Gantt chart schedule is a great way to visualize your project’s task list, critical path, dependencies and overall progress. Some Gantt chart software and templates also include spots for resources, let you easily view milestones, assign tasks, and allow you to set specific start and end dates.
A Gantt chart serves as beneficial task management tool for planning most any type of project.
And while you can find Gantt chart software with a simple search of the internet, often what you’ll find are overly complicated, expensive, or inadequate. Often, what you need is a simple Gantt chart tool that’s easy to use, affordable or even free, and integrates with the management software you already own.
This is where our Gantt Schedule Planner comes in. With our easy to use templates, you can create a useful Gantt chart in Excel. You can add task lists from your project plan with starting weeks and durations, and then view your project timeline.
By entering both your planned and then your actual starts and durations into the schedule, you can easily handle the critical path management of your project from start to finish.
There are two different files in this Gantt chart template pack for Excel, with a slight difference between them.
By Week with Completions: This file shows percent done indicators, that you can select, in the chart view.
By Week without Completions: This file does not show percent done indicators in the chart view.
The planning phase of your project is one of the most important pieces. So, use whichever file will work best for you, your team, and your project type.
Create Gantt Chart
You have one large area to see both areas including the work breakdown section on the left and Gantt chart view on the right. These two sections work together to give you a solid view throughout the life of your project.
You should start customizing this free Gantt chart template by entering your project information, as you’ll see below in our example, and then move onto the work breakdown section.
The basics for this simple Gantt planner include the Project Name, Company Name and Logo (optional), and the Project Lead. You’ll see these fields above the work breakdown section on the left, so just click each line to enter these details.
The Current Week field is one that you will change through the phases of the project. Enter the week number and the Gantt view automatically highlights the week column that you enter. This is a fast way to see which activities are taking place on a particular week as well as task dependencies and milestones.
Show Gantt For
Beside the Show Gantt for label is a drop-down menu where you select either Planned or Actual. This will change the chart view for the week Start and Duration numbers in the Planned and Actual columns of the work breakdown section.
It gives you a quick and easy way to see how well you’ve planned the project timeline, how close you are to your estimates, and the current status of your project.
Show Status (By Week with Completions file only)
If you use the By Week with Completions file, you’ll see this additional field in the project information section. Next to the Show Status label, click the drop-down box and select the indicator you would like to use in the chart view for percentage done for activities.
You can pick from a square/rectangle, arrow, dot, or no indicator. Once you make your selection, you’ll see the Gantt chart view update instantly and you can change this setting at any time throughout your project.
Work Breakdown Structure
When you finish completing the project details, continue with your plan by adding the information in the work breakdown structure section directly below.
List of Activities
Enter your project tasks in the List of Activities column. To help with planning your project, assign each task a number in the # column to the left of the activities. If you prefer to use letters or certain reference numbers, you can use those instead. Just remember that it’s best to list your project activities in order.
Each file has spots for 40 project activities, but you can add more rows if needed.
- Select an activity 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 row directly above the one you copied.
Be sure to insert rows above the Gantt chart outline so that the built-in formulas apply and they are included in the chart view.
Start and Duration
As mentioned, you have columns for Planned and Actual for your project activities. And each uses Start and Duration (Dur) in terms of weeks.
When your project planning starts, you’ll be entering the estimated Start and Duration week numbers into the Planned columns for each activity. And, you’ll just enter a simple number.
For example, you might expect Activity 1 to Start on week 1 and have a Duration of 3 weeks and Activity 2 to Start on week 1 and have a Duration of 5 weeks.
The Start and Duration for the Actual column work basically the same way. You’ll enter a simple number for which week the task actually starts on (Start) and then the number of weeks that the activity actually takes to complete (Dur).
Again, these Planned and Actual week numbers populate the Gantt chart view and you can see them separately using the Show Gantt for drop-down box.
As your project progresses and you start receiving updates for your task list from your team, place a number in the corresponding % Done field for each activity. You can simply enter a number because the column is pre-formatted for percentage.
You’ll use this column to monitor task progress after you’ve entered the Planned start and duration weeks but before you enter the Actual ones.
This helpful column lets you to view progress and milestones quickly. It also populates the chart view for you automatically if you use the By Week with Completions file.
The Chart View
Your project timeline appears in the Gantt chart view on the right. With the details you enter for the Planned and Actual weeks, you get a crystal-clear picture of your project’s progress from beginning to end.
The blue boxes cover the number of weeks for the Duration of an Activity and begin with the Start week number.
This nice chart view gives you a clean way to see your project timeline, tasks, and schedule. Having this overall picture gives you a helpful view your project’s progress throughout its lifecycle until it’s complete.
By Week with Completions File
For the By Week with Completions file, you will also see the % Done as described above using the indicators you choose in the Show Status drop-down box. The dark blue boxes will contain light blue indicators to show the progress percentage.
For instance, if the Actual Start for Activity 1 is week 1, the Duration is 4 weeks, and the Activity is 50% done, you would see light blue indicators across two of the four weeks. This is a quick and easy way to see that the task is half finished.
Each template has 32 week columns, but you can add more if your project is longer.
- Select a column by clicking the letter header at the top of the Excel sheet. Ideally, use the column labeled AM for week 31.
- Right-click the column and select Copy.
- With the column still selected, right-click it and select Insert Copied Cells. This should place your new column directly to the right of the one you copied.
Tips for Adding More Columns
Since the Gantt chart includes formulas, you’ll need to be cautious when adding more columns so that it does not affect your current timeline.
Here are a few tips to help:
- If possible, try to add the extra columns at the start of, or preferably before your project planning even begins to reduce the risk of mistakes on the timeline.
- When you insert more columns, you’ll need to manually adjust the week numbers. So, it’s best to add columns all the way to the right rather than with week 1 as described in the steps above (using week 31).
- Be sure to insert columns inside the chart outline (before week 32) so that the built-in formulas will apply.
Grab Your Project Plan and Get Ready
Whether you have your project plan complete or are still working on it, this Gantt Schedule Planner helps either way. From start to finish, you can easily manage your project and view your timeline at a glance. There’s no simpler way to build a Gantt chart in Excel to keep your project on schedule.
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