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What is a Gantt Chart?

Smartpedia: In projects, a Gantt chart visualizes the sequence of activities on a time axis. It helps with project structuring and project control.

Gantt chart – the sequence of activities on a time axis

A Gantt chart visualizes a sequence of activities on a time axis. It is an instrument of time planning and is an important tool for planning and controlling projects and developments in many project management organizations.

In a Gantt chart the following are displayed:

  • activities including name, start date, duration and end date,
  • relationships between activities (the so-called arrangement relationships),
  • and the names of the agents of the activities.

In addition, numerous software programs also visualize

  • processing states and degrees of completion,
  • offer support in resource planning, effort planning, cost planning
  • and link the time recording.

The content of the Gantt diagram is based on a project structure plan, which divides the project into possible subprojects, subtasks and work packages, so that project phases and milestones can often be found in the display. The duration of the activities is illustrated by bars – therefore a Gantt chart is also called a bar chart.

Gantt chart - the sequence of activities on a time axis
In particular, the Gantt chart refers to Henry Gantt, a US mechanical engineer.  Around 1910, he used the diagram for the first time for machine occupancy and order sequence planning. The idea itself probably goes back to Karol Adamiecki, a Polish engineer. Around 1890 he developed one of the first known methods for scheduling. His invention – the harmonogram – led to performance increases of between 100% and 400% in metal rolling mills, machine workshops, chemical plants, agriculture and mining.

Advantages of Gantt charts

Today, the Gantt chart is used in many projects because it shows

  • a quick overview of the activities of a project,
  • the duration of the activities,
  • the relationships between the activities (usually shown with connecting lines),
  • the critical path
  • and possible buffer times.

In the context of agile procedures, there are always discussions as to whether the Gantt chart is a useful tool. Jeff Sutherland, the co-founder of Scrum, saw no benefit for the use in agile projects. However, since many organizations pursue hybrid project management approaches as well as classical ones, the Gantt chart is still actively used today.

Gantt chart software

With suitable project management software, a Gantt chart can be created quickly and easily. Practically every project management software supports scheduling with the Gantt chart. Here you will find 30 programs offering Gantt charts as examples:


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