A Gantt chart is a type of diagram that is really a feature of project management and is named after Henry Gantt. A Gantt chart is one of the most common types of diagram associated with projects, and is often the one people think of when they think about project management but in fact there are many other types of diagram used in that discipline including the PERT chart. However, Gantt Chart View is the default view in Microsoft Project and is a pictorial way of presenting information about a project.
What’s different about a Gantt Chart?
One of the reasons that a Gantt chart is so widely recognized is that it looks unique. The standard view in a Gantt chart includes a table area on the left that itemizes all the tasks that make up a project, and a chart area on the right that represents tasks as coloured bars. This chart area in Microsoft Project has a similarity to Excel in terms of appearance, but Project has so much more functionality built in that it is always the preferred choice if it is available – Build your Gantt chart in Excel and you will be forever tweaking it to get the effect you want!
A Gantt Chart in Project
In Microsoft Project, the bars represent the duration of tasks in the project and their relation to each other like this:
Re-sizing the bars is done automatically and depends on the duration of the task.
A Gantt Chart in Visio
This is exactly the same in Visio:
Although the Gantt chart diagram looks slightly different, it works in exactly the same way in Visio, so to change the size of the bar you must change the duration of the task by double-clicking the Start or Finish panes.
Change the times and click away when you have finished (don’t press Enter) – the Duration pane should change to reflect this change and your Gantt bar will adapt accordingly. Don’t forget that in the real world, tasks will be related to each other – you can’t lay the tarmac on the road in a tunnel before you’ve dug the hole!
Tasks can also be indented to make them subordinate to the task above, which then becomes a Summary task like this:
Visio allows users of Microsoft Project to import data into a Visio drawing and to create a timeline or Gantt chart from it. Timelines are particularly useful if you need to illustrate the progress of a project to an audience that only needs an overview, for example a senior management team.
Visio can create a simplified view of the project plan and can even enlarge one segment to show more details if required.