Gantt charts are helpful for planning and guiding projects. They are most appropriate for small- to medium-sized projects, but can be used for larger projects, such as capital projects on occasion. They are ideal for most planning projects that a department or college would be involved in. Gantt charts are particularly helpful ways of dealing with scheduling tasks, understanding critical paths of a project, and planning of resources. Two concepts are particularly important in terms of the use of Gantt charts, the concept of sequential and parallel tasks. Parallel tasks are those that can go on at the same time. Projects often take much longer than necessary because people assume that one thing follows another. A simple example would be the signatures on a form. If each individual is approving a project, do they need to sign-off on the idea one after the other, or could multiple proposals be sent out at the same time and each reviewer sign within the same time frame? However, using the same example, there may be a reason for the approvals to come sequentially. It may be that the dean does not want to give approval if the chair has not signed off first.
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A â€œProjectâ€ is a set of activities which ends with specific accomplishment and which has (1) Non-routine tasks, (2) Distinct start/finish dates, and (3) Resource constraints (time/money/people/equipment). â€œTasksâ€ are activities which must be completed to achieve project goal. Break the project into tasks and subtasks. Tasks have start and end points, are short relative to the project and are significant (not â€œgoing to libraryâ€, but rather, â€œsearch literatureâ€). Use verb-noun form for naming tasks.
Current tasks cross the line and are behind schedule if their filled-in section is to the left of the line and ahead of schedule if the filled-in section stops to the right of the line. Future tasks lie completely to the right of the line. In constructing a Gantt chart, keep the tasks to a manageable number (no more than 15 or 20) so that the chart fits on a single page.
On a piece of scrap paper, make a list of tasks and assign each task tentative start and stop dates (or duration) and the people responsible for the task. Also list important milestones and their dates. If you have more than 15 or 20 tasks, split your project into main tasks and subtasks, then make an overall Gantt chart for the main tasks and separate Gantt charts for the subtasks which make up each main task. Decide what resolution to use in the timeline. For projects of three months or less, use days, for longer projects use weeks or months, and for very short project use hours. For these instructions, we will assume you have chosen a resolution of days.
Using the GANTT procedure, you can produce a wide variety of Gantt charts. You can generate zoned Gantt charts with several options to control its appearance. You can display a zone variable column as well as draw a line demarcating the different zones. You can also control the bar height and bar offset of each type of schedule bar. This enables you to change the display order of the schedules as well as giving you the capability to produce a Gantt chart with embedded bars. You can override the default schedule bar pattern assignments at the activity level. In addition, you can restrict the schedule types to which the specified pattern is to be applied to. You can also override the text color for selected columns of activity text at the activity level. These features facilitate the production of multiproject and multiprocess Gantt charts. Finally, you can also associate HTML pages with activity bars and create web enabled Gantt charts.