This article explains the Gantt Chart in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful project management tool. In this article you can also find a free downloadable template.

What is a Gantt Chart?

An organization cannot do without planning tools. One of the best known tools is the planning board which visually represents staffing in several activities. The Gantt chart is the precursor of the project planning board and is still used today as an important planning tool. This project management tool is also know as the Gantt Diagram or Gantt planning board.

Gantt Chart template

A planning board only represents two dimensions, such as production resources and time. These are often Work Breakdown Structures (WBS). A multi-dimensional planning is required for more coherent factors. The Gantt Chart is used in larger projects. The layout of the planning board and this planning tool are similar but whereas the information on the planning board can be altered time and again, the information on the Chart is permanent. This makes the planning tool less flexible.

History Gantt Chart

At the beginning of the 20th century, Henry Gantt developed the Gantt Chart as a visual aid to chart the planning and progress of complex projects. At the time it was an innovative concept which was also deployed for the Construction of the Hoover Dam. This project planning tool became more widely known after the Second World War and was also used in the business sector. Today, this method is an indispensable project planning tool.


A Gantt chart provides a good understanding of the different activities that that run alongside or in succession of each other in a project. Therefore, the individual processing times or tasks within a project are represented vertically and the total project duration is represented on the horizontal bar. The more complicated the project, the more complicated this planning tool looks. The project planning board becomes more complicated especially when the dependency between the different activities increases. The so-called “milestones” indicate important reference points when certain activities need to have been completed. By using symbols, colours and a simple index, even the most complicated project planning will become easy to read.

Modern application

The Gantt Chart has kept abreast of time and is no longer written out on large pieces of paper by hand. Nowadays, there are complex computer programmes that are based on the classical Gantt Chart. From simple Excel files to advanced project management software in which it is possible to calculate to the minute when a project will be finished.


A good and clearly readable chart gives both a clear overview of the progress of a project and provides clarity for the employees. They can monitor the progress of a project and the various activities and sub-tasks independently so that they will know exactly where obstacles present themselves. Consequently, this project planning board is also used as a management tool. The fact that other users can also examine the planning is also considered to be a great advantage of the electronic Gantt Chart.

Gantt Chart template

Download the free Gantt Chart template in editable Excel.

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