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Gantt Chart

Use this framework to plan and execute projects

Henry Gantt was an American mechanical engineer and consultant. In the years 1910 to 1915 he developed a type of bar chart which described the start and finish dates for different parts of a project. This has become known as a Gantt chart and it is useful for planning and implementing projects.

For years supervisors of projects would identify the different parts of the project that needed doing when and by whom. They would prioritise these in order to ensure everything was finished on time. Henry Gantt put order and structure into this process by showing how the various steps in the project could be labelled and given timelines. He portrayed these component parts as horizontal bars in a graph. In this way the project is broken into its component parts and everyone can see their responsibility for completing the bit that is their responsibility. The person in charge of the project can keep track of any parts which are slipping behind and that could cause a delay if they run behind schedule.

 

In the examples below we can see how the project has been broken down into various tasks (defining the mission, setting goals etc) with timelines against each. We can also see how some tasks, such as the internal and external scan, feeds into the mission statement which in turn is linked to a SWOT analysis.

Gantt charts have become integral parts of software programs that help managers control their projects. The software programs vary in sophistication allowing the input of the timeline for the task, the input of resources required to complete a task, the area of responsibility for the task and links with other tasks.

 

In most projects there is one task that is critical to all the rest. Once all the activities have been listed together with their duration and the dependency on each other, it is possible to identify which one must start and finish in order for the project to be finished on time. This is the critical path and was a technique developed in the late 1950s in the DuPont Co and Remington Rand.

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