Gantt charts: the new classic

Businessman working project update gantt software chart scheduling virtual diagram progress

As a result of the constant evolution in today’s workforce – from remote work to software innovation – some businesses have adopted a sweeping “out with the old, and in with the new” approach which can cause them to miss out on the benefits of tried-and-true methods.

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In this article, we’ll take a look at a tenured tool – the Gantt chart – as a case study for benefitting from a classic method while optimizing it with a Work OS.

What is a Gantt chart?

A Gantt chart is a bar chart that visualizes a project schedule, including activities and even task dependencies. It was named after its inventor, mechanical engineer Henry Gantt, who designed it in the early 1900s. 

Before the advent of personal computers and the internet, this project scheduling tool was far from commonplace, and it was drawn by hand – not the most efficient or flexible option in the world. Once modern tech got rolling, it became one of the most used project management tools. 

Gantt charts are considered a type of “visual project management,” a new niche that benefits project managers, team members, and stakeholders in the way they prioritize, assign, and manage their workflows.

Why use a Gantt chart?

From marketing to education to construction and IT, every team needs a visual way to manage their fast and easily digested projects. According to the Project Management Institute, visual project management methods, such as Gantt charts, can help in a few ways:

  • Providing a singular, easy-to-understand view of statuses related to project planning, execution, monitoring, and controlling of activities
  • Improving the clarity of project scope, resource allocation, and operational plan
  • Making information easy for anyone to consume

They also cited research from a data visualization firm, Insight Information, that our eyes can see visual patterns 65,000 times faster in pictures than in table formats. Another win for the Gantt chart.

Gantt charts help project managers be proactive planners and assess their biggest concerns upfront to build them. This kind of planning can, in turn, reduce the need for time-draining and poorly organized or pointless meetings, which according to one study, accounted for $399 billion lost annually in the U.S. in 2019.

Throughout the project management process, Gantt charts are also designed to help businesses track progress. Modern Gantt chart software like allows you to add task owners and feedback within your chart and automation to notify team members that tasks are ready for the next phase or when a project is stuck. You can even use a Gantt chart view as a complement to your CRM process. But more on that later. 

Top benefits of the Gantt chart

It’s clear from their very design that Gantt charts are a great way to plan and eventually track a project. Let’s take a look at a few more ways Gantt charts can serve project managers and their teams.

Easy for anyone to use

The general makeup of our workforce is quite different than 20 or even 10 years back – age and experience are no longer the ultimate indications of someone’s role. Multigenerational teams can face some speed bumps when it comes to either teaching newcomers older methods or getting more tenured employees up to speed with new tools. 

Gantt chart software helps bridge this gap, by using a tried-and-true method in a digital environment, allowing it to become more flexible and user-friendly than it used to be.

Gantt chart project board
Gantt chart project board

Keeps projects on schedule

Think of a Gantt chart as a project map. By having this view, you can see where a project can be divided into smaller chunks, making deadlines easier to reach. 

The clarity of milestones and other key dates also helps project managers compare progress against time remaining, giving them insight into where a project might get stuck or what activities might need more attention.

Makes the critical path clear

The critical path method helps project managers determine the longest sequence of tasks that need to be completed for a project to be a success.

Gantt charts make finding this easy because you can quickly visualize tasks that are supplementary, which are most critical, and the tasks that are absolutely critical to on-time project delivery. In this way, project managers have an easier time estimating project length and accurately reporting on progress.

How can you optimize a Gantt chart on Work OS is a cloud-based software platform where organizations of all sizes can build custom workflow apps and run all of their work. It’s also built for sharing your work with internal and external stakeholders, so it’s perfect for project teams using Gantt charts.

The Gantt view is a feature available for any project board created on the platform – so there’s no need to use a separate Gantt chart tool. It is flexible and responsive to the changes that occur throughout a project’s development. Like any Gantt chart, there are a few core things you’ll need to consider before you set up the Gantt view on

  • Project Timeline
  • Tasks
  • Milestones
  • Owners
  • Dependencies

Once you’ve done that, there are some amazing ways to customize your Gantt view, like:

Search by keyword or person

Quickly get the information you need by typing keywords into the search bar, filtering by a person assigned in the People column, or by clicking the “Sort” button to sort your items by priority, creation date, or any other column within your board.

Gantt chart project board filter options
Gantt chart project board filter options.

Color coding

The easy-to-use drop-down menu lets you choose how to color-code your timeline. This is especially useful when you want to choose colors to be based on a category of tasks, by the labels of a Status Column, the people they are assigned to, and more.

Show dependencies

It’s easy to visualize any dependencies set between tasks (items) with arrows on our Gantt view. The dependency line connects the first task that must be done with the task that is immediately dependent on its completion, with the arrow pointing to the dependent task. You can also easily remove them with the click of the “Show Dependencies” button.

Update items directly from the Gantt view

You won’t have to waste time toggling between board views when changes need to be made to your Gantt chart – at any time you can click directly on the bars inside to update the item or make changes.

Gantt chart project board tasks
Gantt chart project board tasks.

Gantt charts revamped

As the practice of project management continues to evolve, we can look forward to new ways of thinking and executing our most important work.

With such developments, it’s important to not lose sight of proven methods of successful project management like the Gantt chart – but to also look for the best formats and applications of it.

To get the most out of your Gantt chart, look for software like that is flexible and adaptable to your team’s needs while having a solid base for setting up the framework to get things done efficiently and effectively.

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