A Guide on How to Make a Gantt Chart in a Microsoft Project

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 17, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When planning tasks and projects, managers often use system applications that help ease the process, one of which is the Gantt chart. The Gantt chart is a project management tool that helps visualize tasks and timelines. Understanding how to use a Gantt chart can help you plan and schedule projects more efficiently. In this article, we define a Gantt chart, give a step-by-step guide on how to make a Gantt chart in a Microsoft project, explain why you may use a Gantt chart, list professionals who use it, and explore how to read one.

What is a Gantt chart?

A Gantt chart is a bar graph software that project managers use to plan, schedule, and allocate tasks. Project managers often use the Gantt chart to plan team projects and track the progress of each team member. The Gantt chart is an important tool for employees as it promotes collaboration and teamwork. This is because the chart allows team members to track each others' progress and see where their task falls in the overall plan.

The Gantt chart displays pending tasks in horizontal bars. The vertical axis outlines the different tasks for a project, and the horizontal axis represents the allocated period for each task. These horizontal bars start at the proposed beginning date of the project and stop at the expected end date. The chart shows you the progress of each task which it sometimes represents in percentages. Some applications allow you to use the subtask feature. This feature breaks down the project into smaller tasks that you can allocate to team members. You can find these subtasks indented under the major project.

How to make a Gantt chart in a Microsoft project

Here are the steps you can follow for how to make a Gantt chart in a Microsoft project:

1. Open your project file

First, launch the Microsoft project and open the project file. The page opens two different panes, and the one on the left is the worksheet for entering task titles, duration, start and finish dates, resource names, and predecessors. The lane on the right is the Gantt chart showing the project timeline.

2. Enter the project data

Next, enter the required data into the worksheet on the left. The system automatically updates the data on the Gantt chart to the right. For example, when you input project titles and duration to the worksheet on the left, it automatically uploads to the chart.

3. Include the Gantt chart wizard on the ribbon

Here are some steps you can take to add the Gantt chat wizard:

  • First, click on the “File” and then the “Options” menu to the project adoption dialogue box.

  • Select the “Customize ribbon.”

  • Next, click the tab where you want to insert the wizard and then select “Add new group” from the context menu.

  • The new group appears as the “New group” title, which you may right-click and rename.

  • Select “Commands not in the ribbon” from the “Choose commands from” on the left column of the pane.

  • Next, find the Gantt chart wizard and click on the “Add” button between the columns.

  • Click “OK” on the dialogue box.

4. Customize the Gantt chart

After adding them, you can format your Gantt bars with your Gantt chart wizards. You can start by deciding what information you want to display on the chart. Then decide the task information you want to display on the Gantt bars. Finally, decide whether or not you want to reveal the links between dependent tasks.

Why use a Gantt chart?

Here are some of the benefits of using a Gantt chart:

Assists in project management

The Gantt chart primarily helps managers to guide members through a project. The activities during a project may include assigning individual and collective tasks, scheduling presentations and meetings, and setting project timelines. The chart is also useful as it represents project progress in real-time and may help decision-making. Project managers use the Gantt chart to improve project resource management. It can help a team meet set key performance indicators (KPIs) for the project. In addition, the Gantt chart can help project managers improve project management by identifying downtimes and non-critical tasks.

Aiding communication

Managers and team leads use the Gantt chart when working with small or large teams. It helps outline the general idea of the project, the different tasks to help complete the project, and the expected timeline. Team members tend to focus better on their responsibilities as the chart gives a clear sense of responsibility. Managers also use the Gantt chart as a visual aid to update important stakeholders on project progress. Finally, the chart is useful when collaborating with other companies or organizations on projects.

User-friendly design

A Gantt chart provides a user-friendly design that helps team members and managers easily navigate across tasks. The convenient design also eases the process of deploying resources and scheduling tasks. In addition, the design displays task breakdown while showing members responsible for each task. This structured representation makes it easy for managers to monitor projects.

Reducing risks

The Gantt chart provides a graphic representation of a project process and timeline such that it's easy to identify possible loopholes and bottlenecks. For instance, the chat helps prevent delays by showing you tasks that you want to complete before beginning others. It can also show you when a team member is working on too many tasks or has issues with their task. The Gantt chart also helps prevent you from missing a deadline as it shows how much time you have left for a task.

Read more: How to Create a Good Workback Schedule (With Benefits)

Who uses the Gantt chart?

The Gantt chart is a useful communication tool, especially for teams. Some of the jobs that may use the Gantt chart are:

  • Chief executive officers (CEO): A company CEO can use the Gantt chart to monitor the progress of different teams and departments towards company goals.

  • Construction managers: These professionals use the Gantt chart to outline and monitor the expectations and duties of contractors working on a project.

  • Manager: Managers use the Gantt chart to communicate effectively and efficiently while keeping members updated on important task deadlines.

  • Marketing managers: The Gantt chart helps these professionals schedule and plan marketing events and make necessary last-minute changes while keeping everyone on the team updated.

  • Advertising manager: Advertising managers can use the Gantt chart to supervise advertising campaign timelines and track progress with the different teams.

  • Finance professionals: Finance professionals and accountants use the Gantt chart to assign team tasks and display client information on credit and loan cards.

  • Teachers: High school and college teachers can use the Gantt chart to assist students in managing their educational projects more efficiently.

  • Academic researchers: Research institutions may use the Gantt chart to display statistical data over long periods.

  • Customer service managers: Customer service agents can use the Gantt chart to track customer accounts, goals, and improvements.

  • Product development managers: These professionals use the Gantt chart to update other teams in the company on project progress while using it as a reference for client demands.

  • Technology managers: Tech managers can use the Gantt chart to identify system update failures and provide repair timelines for other teams.

  • Event planners: The Gantt chart helps event planners and managers to track deliveries and deadlines for the event vendors while communicating arrival dates to clients.

  • Consultant managers: Consultants may use the Gantt chart to track task timelines and deadlines while monitoring external contractors.

Read more: How to Use a Project Scheduling Template Effectively

How to read a Gantt chart

Here are some steps to take to read a Gantt chart accurately:

1. Start with the vertical columns

The vertical column in the Gantt chart outlines the list of all the tasks in a project. You can use this list to determine how many team members you require for the project and allocate tasks to them. It's important to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each team member before apportioning the tasks. You can then use their strengths to allocate the tasks to make the process seamless.

2. Read the horizontal bars

The horizontal bars represent the period for each task on the chart. These bars may overlap with each other for tasks that run simultaneously. The bars help you set practicable deadlines for team members, especially for tasks that depend on each other. It also visualizes the project process so you know when you're close to missing a deadline.

3. Read the time scale

A Gantt chart measures each task by the expected period for the task. When reading a Gantt chart, study the horizontal axis. It gives a clearer understanding of the project, expected outcome, and projected completion date.

Related: 8 Types of Project Charts for Effective Project Management

4. Check for other items

Some Gantt chart software may display additional important information to your project. For instance, the chart may display the team member's name working on a current task. This information allows team leads and HR managers to evenly distribute tasks and ensure that an individual doesn't work on too many tasks at a given time.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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