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How to make an effective Gantt chart?

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What are the best practices for creating an effective, non-complicated, easy to read, easy to change Gantt chart?
asked 8 years ago by anonymous

2 Answers

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First, I like to state the project critical success factors and assumptions at the top of the plan.  This helps keep the team and project plan readers focused on what is most important.

I generally recommend the following conventions for phrasing tasks so they are more readable:

Summary Tasks
- Nouns for deliverables
- Imperfect tense (-ing) for phases

Detailed Tasks
- Present tense
- Like order or command
- Assigned individuals see their instructions

Milestones
- <deliverable><past tense verb>

Then, while you might want to keep more detail for your own purposes, generally try not to go more than three nested levels.

For very large plans, I try to use different fonts and colors for the Phases or Summary tasks, so they are easily spotted.  You may also want to do this for milestones and key deliverables.
answered 7 years ago by sdcapmp (45,840 points)
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There is no right or wrong way to organize a Gantt chanrt and probably 101 different schemes.  I like to first think about how to organize the tasks themselves.  You could organize the work according to phase of the project, or type of work (i.e. framing, concrete, plumbing, etc.).  I prefer a more deliverables-centric approach which I believe lends itself to more customer friendly viewing.  I believe tasks should be structured hierarchically in 3 levels according to the following:

  Level 1:  Deliverable or functional component
        Level 2: Disciplne or funcional/technical area
              Level 3:  Phase or life cycle

In this way, work on the project can be grouped first by deliverable, then by team doing the work for the deliverable, then by activity or phase.  Since customers are more often interested in a particular component or deliverable, this seems to be a more natural - customer centric approach.  Consider the following top level layout of tasks for a wedding project:

Wedding
   Clothing
        Dressmaker
             <Timeline of tasks for wedding dress>
        Tux Rental Store
              <Timeline of tasks for tux rentals>
   Flowers
        <Timeline of tasks for flowers>
   Photography
        <Timeline of tasks for photography>
   Invitations
        <Timeline of tasks for invitations>
   Reception
         Caterer
               <Timeline of tasks for caterer>
         Venue
               <Timeline of tasks for venue>
         Music
               <Timeline of tasks for music>
   Rehearsal
         Caterer
               <Timeline of tasks for caterer>
         Venue
               <Timeline of tasks for venue>
         Church
                <Timeline of tasks for church>
   Ceremony
         Church
                <Timeline of tasks for church>
         Preacher
                <Timeline of tasks for preacher>
         Music
               <Timeline of tasks for music>
         Decorations
               <Timeline of tasks for decorations>
   Legal Paperwork
         Medical Tests
                <Timeline of tasks for medical tests>
         License
                <Timeline of tasks for license>
answered 7 years ago by anonymous

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