Find out how to use Gantt Charts,
with James Manktelow & Amy Carlson.
James Manktelow: Hello, I'm James Manktelow, CEO of MindTools.com, home to hundreds of free, career-boosting tools and resources.
Amy Carlson: And I'm Amy Carlson from Mind Tools.
Have you ever had to plan a complex project?
If so, you'll know that you can do some activities at any time during the project, while some tasks can only be started once others have been completed.
What's more, there can be so many tasks to think about that you might end up missing some in the confusion.
You can make things easier by using a tool like Gantt Charts.
Gantt Charts are useful because they enable you to plan out all of your tasks.
This helps you to work out the minimum delivery time for your project, and to schedule when the right people will be available to get your project finished efficiently.
JM: To put together a Gantt Chart, you start by listing all the tasks that you need to complete for your project.
Then write down the earliest date that you can start the task, how long you think it will take to finish, and whether or not the task is dependent on any other tasks.
In this example, you think that Task A, initial design, will take one week.
Task B, ordering parts, will take two weeks. But you can't start Task B until Task A is completed.
So Task B is dependent on Task A, and those two tasks can't overlap.
Once Task B is complete, you'll need some people to do Task C, putting the parts together. This will take three weeks.
You'll also need to have an instruction manual written. This is Task D, and can be started at any time. It will take two weeks.
Finally, once Tasks C and D are complete, you can do Task E, training. This will take one week.
AC: Next, using a piece of graph paper, you make a column for each day or week that your project will last.
Then you can use your graph paper to plot out all of your tasks. This helps you to see when certain activities will overlap.
You plot your tasks by drawing a horizontal bar. The length of the bar will represent how long you expect the task to take.
JM: Once you've plotted out all your tasks, your chart will probably look quite confusing, and difficult to use.
So the last step is to color code the task depending on the person or resource you'll need to complete it. This will make the chart easier to see and understand.
For instance, you could color code your own tasks red.
And, you know that you'll need a technician to order the parts, and to put the parts together. So these tasks could be highlighted in blue.
You'll need to outsource the handbook to a freelance writer, so this task could be highlighted in green. And so on.
AC: Once you complete your Gantt Chart you'll be able to see how long your project will take to complete. You'll also know when you'll need to bring key resources on board to complete tasks.
And, you don't have to use graph paper to create your Gantt chart manually. In reality, project managers use software such as Microsoft Project to make the process much easier.
You can find out more about Gantt Charts in the article that accompanies this video.
With the Mind Tools Club, you get much, much more than you do here for free.
And we'll give you the 4 workbooks above when you join!
Learn on the move with the free Mind Tools iPhone, iPad and Android Apps. Short bursts of business training ideal for busy people.