Product Development Gantt Chart
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- August 28, 2019 Updated
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Product development is a process most people don’t think about. But as a product development project manager, you know that from large electronics like televisions to small utensils like ink pens, products go through a lengthy development lifecycle.
So, when it comes to the organization of a product development project, project managers must be prepared with the right tools for the job. And a Gantt chart is one of the most useful tools a project manager can employ. With a comprehensive view of all of a project’s components, these valuable charts help keep projects moving from start to finish.
One thing that’s great about Gantt charts is that they can be built in Microsoft Excel, which allows them to be easily shared and used. So if you’re in the market for one of the most powerful project management tools you can find, our Product Development Gantt Chart, which is free to download and use, is here to help you plan and keep your project progressing successfully.
Using a Gantt Chart for Developing a New Product
The planning and management of a product development project is a big job. From the idea-generation phase to the commercialization and product launch, managing a large project such as this takes patience, organization, and all of the skills you possess as a project manager.
Gantt charts give multiple views of your project. Leads, tasks, budget data, dates, and progress are all arranged nicely for a clear view on one side. On the other, the chart shows a clean timeline of the project throughout its lifecycle.
Alternatives to Gantt Charts for Product Development
Gantt charts are not the only tools available for managing a product development project. You can find many online applications, such as Wrike and Smartsheet, that allow you to create product roadmaps.
A product roadmap is a visual tool that outlines the goals, milestones, the timeline, and resources for developing a product. Gantt charts are used for all kinds of projects because they give this exact information, in a very versatile way. By tweaking the data inputs and outputs, Gantt charts easily take the form of a product roadmap for product development.
Benefits of Gantt Charts for Product Development
One benefit of using a Gantt chart for product development is that you can enter your work breakdown structure using product development phases, and still get a clear picture of your schedule, dependencies, and project timeline.
Another advantage is that as a project manager, you’re likely already familiar with the mechanics of Gantt charts. If you haven’t used them before, you’ve almost certainly used similar tools for other projects. So, there’s no learning curve to worry about.
One final advantage to mention in relation to this particular Product Development Gantt Chart template is that it’s available for free. The online Gantt chart tools mentioned earlier, along with most others you’ll find, come with a price tag.
The key features of this Product Development Gantt Chart are:
- The timeline table: a task management table where you can add, delete, organize, and sort tasks.
- The timeline bar chart: a chart showing information about the planned and actual schedule, relationships and progress for each task.
- The Gantt bar: a bar showing the task duration.
- The dates: start and end dates, as well as task duration.
- Progress: view a project’s status.
Now, are you ready to plan your project and create your product development Gantt chart? In our discussion below, you’ll see just how easy it is to do with our template.
Create a Gantt Chart
As with most Gantt charts, there are two major sections of our template. These include the work breakdown structure section on the left and the Gantt view on the right.
The chart view is populated automatically from the information you enter on the left side, including the project basics and the work breakdown section. So, let’s talk about entering those project details first.
The basics for this template include the Product Development Project Name, Company Name and Logo (optional), and the Project Lead. These fields are above the work breakdown section of the template. Click each line and enter those pieces of information.
Project Start Date
In the Project Start Date field, insert the start date for the project. You can enter any date format and the template will reformat it as shown. Once you populate this field, you’ll see the Gantt chart automatically adjust for the months, dates, and days.
The Choose Project Week field is one that you can change throughout your work on the project. You can enter the number 1 here to begin with week one. Then just change this number for weeks two, three, and so on, as your project progresses, and you’ll see the chart view start with that week.
Work Breakdown Structure
After you enter the project details above, it’s time to jump into the work breakdown structure section.
As you can see, the Gantt chart template includes examples to get you started. You’ll see four of the five phases of the product development process that you can use or replace as needed for your particular project.
So, get the following items ready: project tasks, lead names, budget information, start and end dates, and progress.
Project Leads and Tasks
This is where the task management takes place. Each phase in our example is highlighted in gray with the tasks for that phase immediately below. Enter the names of the Leads for each phase. Then, insert each task for the phase in the Tasks column with the name of the Lead (or resource) for that task.
If you want to add more phases, you can copy and paste a current section.
- Select a phase section including the color-coded row and task rows beneath it.
- Right-click and select Copy.
- Go to the bottom of the work breakdown section select the Total Budget row.
- Right-click and select Paste to insert the section above the Total Budget row.
If you need to add more tasks for a certain phase, this is just as easy.
- Select a task row at the bottom of the phase section 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.
Not all projects involve tracking a budget on the Gantt chart. However, since this template is for product development, it’s likely that you will need to keep tabs on the budget as well. Having this data right within the chart is handy for making sure your costs are in line with your available funds, or with the target price for the product.
You can simply enter a number for each task as it pertains to the Budget in that field. The highlighted phase rows of the work breakdown structure will automatically add the budget amounts together for all tasks within each phase. And, you can see a Total Budget for all tasks and phases summed in the bottom row of the work breakdown section.
If you are not keeping track of a budget for your product development project, you can hide that column if you prefer. Do not delete the column as this will affect the built-in formulas for the template.
To hide the column, do the following:
- Select the column by clicking the letter C at the top of the Excel sheet.
- Right-click and choose Hide from the context menu.
Start and End Dates
If you have the start and end dates for the tasks ready, enter those next or as you enter the tasks and leads. Note that the start and end dates in the color-coded phase rows will adjust automatically as you enter those dates for the tasks.
Just like the Project Start Date, you can use whichever format is most comfortable for you and the template will automatically adjust it. For instance, typing 6/1/19 will display in the template the same as typing June 1, 2019.
The Days Column
Do not enter any data in the Days column. The fields in the Days column will calculate and populate automatically as you enter the start and end dates for each task.
The next area of the chart template you’ll complete is the Progress column. As you receive updates from your project team for the schedule, place a number in the corresponding Progress field for each task. The column is formatted for percentage, so you can simply add a number.
Note that the Progress field in the color-coded phase rows will calculate automatically as you enter the Progress for each task. This shows you how each phase is progressing at a glance without having to calculate the average manually.
This progress will adjust in the Gantt chart view as you enter a number for each individual task.
The Chart View
The Gantt chart view on the right is where you can see your project timeline. Using calculations based on the start dates, end dates, and progress you enter in the work breakdown section, you get a clean picture of your project’s progress.
The light blue boxes cover the number of days that a Task is scheduled to start and end.
The dark blue boxes appear in place of the light blue boxes to indicate the progress percentage.
For instance, let’s take a task that is scheduled to start on July 21 and end on July 24 and is 50% complete. You would see light blue boxes across four days and two dark blue boxes covering two of those days. This is a quick and easy way to see that the task is half done.
This clear chart display gives you a simple way to view the project timeline, task dependencies, schedule, dates, and how your project is progressing overall.
Making Product Development That Much Easier
This Product Development Gantt Chart template makes the perfect product roadmap. It’s easy to use and helps you plan effectively. You have the exact fields you need to manage the tasks, dependencies, resources, budget, and progress for your project, all for free.
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