Simple Gantt Chart
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- July 22, 2019 Updated
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Gantt Charts allow project managers to monitor deadlines at a glance. At the same time, they can also make it easy to track other key project elements, such as use and allocation of resources. There are many online tools that can help users create or customize Gantt charts. However, they are often costly or overly complicated.
To address this, we have created a Simple Gantt Chart Template. With built-in formulas and formatting and a user-friendly interface, it offers everything you need to get a basic project off the ground, and keep it running. More than that, it’s free to download and use. And if you have more complex projects that require a more robust Gantt chart, see our other Gantt Chart templates here.
With our Simple Gantt Chart Template, you need only enter your task list, start and end dates, and progress. With those four simple inputs, you’ll get a clear picture of your project’s progress in the chart view.
What is a Gantt Chart and Why Should You Use One
A Gantt chart, in its most basic form, is a visual representation of a project with its task list and timeline. It’s divided into two sections:
- Work Breakdown: This area lists the tasks and dates.
- Chart: In this area, you will see horizontal bars that represent the project’s progress.
A Gantt chart uses this information to show your project timeline based on the details in the task and date area. It’s a visual view of tasks scheduled over time.
Believe it or not, hand-drawn Gantt charts date back to the 1800s. After some years of revamping, the chart became popular in western countries for managing project tasks and timelines. Unfortunately, in those days, every time a project changed, the Gantt chart had to be redrawn. Can you imagine that in this day and age?
Now we have computers, software, and templates that allow us to create Gantt charts quickly and easily, such as this Simple Gantt Chart Template. Whew!
Benefits of Gantt Charts That Make Them Effective
There are a number of benefits that project managers can gain from using Gantt charts. Just remember, the effectiveness of a Gantt chart depends on how well the project manager uses it to its full potential.
- Clarity and quick views: You can add, view, and manage multiple tasks and the timeline for a project all in one document.
- Avoiding overloaded resources: With a clear picture of tasks, dependencies, and assignees for team projects, you can easily see if a resource is stretched too far or has overlapping tasks.
- Manageable task dependencies: Managing task dependencies can be a difficult duty for a project manager and even tougher for larger projects. Gantt charts give a picture of tasks in relation to others.
- Overall project planning: Rarely is a project successful without sufficient planning, and a Gantt chart is an excellent tool for any project manager. With a Gantt chart, planning tasks, resources, due dates, and even estimates can all be handled more easily before a project even starts.
- Better evaluation of the critical path: The critical path in project management includes defining tasks, estimating their durations, determining dependencies, and managing how it all drives the project timeline. This is exactly how the structure and display of a Gantt chart is useful.
Why Excel is a Good Gantt Chart Tool
There are plenty of tools – both online and as downloadable software – for making Gantt charts. Most are not free and many can be costly. So for simple projects that can benefit from a very basic Gantt chart, they may not be worth it.
Excel is not the only free tool you can use for creating Gantt Charts. Here are just a few free Gantt Chart Software options:
Canva is an online tool that allows you to create Gantt charts for free and offers free Gantt chart templates. However, these templates cannot accommodate formulas and calculations that help manage your project from start to finish. They are more of a one-time view of your project at the current time.
Microsoft Word and PowerPoint
If you have Microsoft Excel then you likely have Word and PowerPoint as well. Gantt charts can be created in Word or PowerPoint, and you can find templates to help you do it online.
However, when it comes to those formulas and calculations, that’s exactly what Excel is built to handle. So, if you already own these applications, you can create a Gantt chart in Excel much faster and easier.
This Simple Gantt Chart Template is designed for Excel and includes all of the built-in formulas and calculations you need. By entering simple amounts of data, you have an interactive chart that helps you manage your project from the planning phase until the project closure.
So let’s get started, shall we? Here’s how to use this Simple Gantt Chart Template.
Setting Up Simple Gantt Chart Template
The best place to start with any Gantt chart template is by entering the project name and related details.
The basics for this template include the Project Name, Company Name and Logo (optional), and Project Lead. These reside above the work breakdown section of the template. Click each line and enter those pieces of information.
Project Start Date
Enter the start date for the project in the designated area. You can use any date format and the template will reformat it as shown. Once you populate the Project Start Date field, you’ll see the Gantt chart adjust for the months, dates, and days of the week.
The Choose Project Week field is one that you will adjust 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
Right beneath the project basics is where you’ll enter the work breakdown structure that includes tasks, start and end dates, and progress.
List each task for the project in the Tasks column. Since this is a Simple Gantt Chart Template, there are no subtasks listed. However, if you’d like to add a subtask, you can do this easily.
Select the task cell you want to turn into a subtask and click the Increase Indent button on the Home tab of the Excel ribbon.
If you need to add more rows for tasks, this is also easy.
- Select the last row in the work breakdown section by clicking the number on the left of Excel.
- Right-click and choose Copy from the context menu.
- With the row still selected, right-click once more and then select Insert Copied Cells.
It’s important that you insert the copied row above and not below to maintain the template’s built-in formulas.
Start and End Dates
For each task, next enter its Start Date and End Date. Like the Project Start Date, you can use whichever format to type in those dates that’s most comfortable for you and the template will reformat them as you see them now.
So, if you enter 6/10/19 or June 10, 2019, the template will display the date as (Mon) 10-Jun-2019.
The Days Column
Do not enter any data in the Days column. The fields in the Days column will calculate and populate automatically when you enter the start and end dates for each task.
The final area of the chart template you’ll complete is the Progress column. For each task, as you receive updates from your project team, place a number in the corresponding Progress field. The column is formatted for percentage, so you can simply add a number.
This progress will display in the Gantt chart view as you enter a number for each task.
The Chart View
The Gantt chart view on the right is the area that displays your project timeline. Using calculations based on the start dates, end dates, and progress you enter in the work breakdown section, you get a clear view of your project’s progress.
The light blue boxes cover the numbers of days or weeks 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 example, let’s take a task that is scheduled to start on May 21 and end on May 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 an easy way to see that the task is half done.
This nice, clean display gives you a simple way to view the overall project timeline and how your project is progressing.
And for tasks that have not started yet, but are on the project schedule, you can quickly view how many days that upcoming task will take on both the Gantt chart view and in the Days column in the work breakdown section.
Create a Simple Gantt Chart in No Time
For smaller projects that don’t have teams but have a list of simple tasks instead, a chart template like this one is ideal. You can pop in tasks, enter their start and end dates, and track the progress of every activity with ease using this Simple Gantt Chart Template.
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