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Management Theory

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Gantt Chart

During the era of scientific management, Henry Gantt developed a tool for displaying the progression of a project in the form of a specialized chart. An early application was the tracking of the progress of ship building projects. Today, Gantt's scheduling tool takes the form of a horizontal bar graph and is known as a Gantt chart, a basic sample of which is shown below:

Gantt Chart Format

Task Duration Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

1 2 mo.

2 2 mo.

3 2 mo.

4 2 mo.

5 2 mo.

6 2 mo.

The horizontal axis of the Gantt chart is a time scale, expressed either in absolute time or in relative time referenced to the beginning of the project. The time resolution depends on the project - the time unit typically is in weeks or months. Rows of bars in the chart show the beginning and ending dates of the individual tasks in the project.

In the above example, each task is shown to begin when the task above it completes. However, the bars may overlap in cases where a task can begin before the completion of another, and there may be several tasks performed in parallel. For such cases, the Gantt chart is quite useful for communicating the timing of the various tasks.

For larger projects, the tasks can be broken into subtasks having their own Gantt charts to maintain readability.

Gantt Chart Enhancements

This basic version of the Gantt chart often is enhanced to communicate more information.

* A vertical marker can used to mark the present point in time.

* The progression of each activity may be shown by shading the bar as progress is made, allowing the status of each activity to be known with just a glance.

* Dependencies can be depicted using link lines or color codes.

* Resource allocation can be specified for each task.

* Milestones can be shown.

Gantt Chart Role in Project Planning

For larger projects, a work breakdown structure would be developed to identify the tasks before constructing a Gantt chart. For smaller projects, the Gantt chart itself may used to identify the tasks.

The strength of the Gantt chart is its ability to display the status of each activity at a glance. While often generated using project management



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