The Gantt Project

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This Microsoft Project Tutorial provides step-by-step instructions
for getting MS Project Gantt charts into PowerPoint.

The Project Gantt View illustrates a project schedule by showing the start and finish dates of assigned resources, so that a Project Manager can quickly see the current project status using the percent-complete bar shading and the percent-complete, resource name and status columns. Download GanttProject for free. Free project scheduling and management tool. GanttProject is a project scheduling application written in Java and featuring Gantt chart, resource management, calendaring, import/export (MS Project, HTML, PDF, spreadsheets). A Gantt chart lets you communicate your project timeline visually in an easy-to-understand way. Everyone’s in the loop, so you can get work done faster and easier. Keep reading for Gantt chart examples, plus tips on how to create Gantt charts that are professional, attractive and simple to understand.

Add dependencies to your Gantt charts to efficiently manage your project timeline and the relationships between individual tasks. When the start or end date of a predecessor task changes, the dates of dependent tasks in your timeline will automatically update to reflect the change. Always know what’s going on in your projects. Project managers have a basic need: complete.

It is common to present project plans, proposals and project reviews to clients and executives in PowerPoint. In this tutorial I will show you how to prepare your Microsoft Project Gantt chart and how to export it to PowerPoint. If you wish to learn how to make a timeline in MS Project, please see our step by step guide here.

Microsoft Project Gantt charts in PowerPoint

Microsoft Project 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016 are all strong project planning tools but each produces complex Gantt charts that are difficult for audiences to follow. In this tutorial I demonstrate two options for preparing project plans as PowerPoint presentations.

  1. The first discusses some of Project’s hidden tools. It demonstrates how to use the Gantt Chart Wizard, Task Bar Format tool and the Copy Picture feature to prepare your visual. The end result will be a Microsoft Project image that can be pasted into PowerPoint.
  2. The second tutorial explains how to import Microsoft Project Gantt charts into PowerPoint with the Office Timeline Plus add-in. This method converts .mpp files into PowerPoint slides that can be shared, edited and synchronized right inside PowerPoint.

Which Microsoft Office Gantt chart tutorial would you like to see?

Microsoft Project Gantt Chart Tutorial #1

Steps for using the Gantt Chart Wizard and Copy Picture Feature

Presentations to clients and executive need to be simple and easy to understand. Microsoft Project’s Gantts are often complicated but using the Gantt Chart Wizard will help make them more presentable. If the Gantt Chart Wizard is hidden in Microsoft Project you will need to add it to the ribbon by following these steps.

1. Add the Gantt Chart Wizard to Microsoft Project ribbon
  1. Click on File -> click on Options -> click on Customize Ribbon.

  2. In the right column beneath Main Tabs, right-click the tab where the Gantt Chart Wizard button will be added and select Add New Group. This adds a new section to that tab of your Microsoft Project ribbon.

  3. The new section will be listed as New Group (Custom). Right click on New Group (Custom) and rename it then click OK. I called mine Visual Tools.

  4. Staying in the Project Options window under Choose commands, select Commands Not in the Ribbon.

  5. In the column on the right highlight the new group you created in step C (I named mine Visuals Tools). In the left column scroll down and select Gantt Chart Wizard and then Add to include the Gantt Chart Wizard in your new group. Click OK to exit.

  6. You will now see the Gantt Chart Wizard in Microsoft Project’s ribbon. In my example I placed it on the Task tab in the section I added called Visual Tools.

2. Use the Gantt Chart Wizard to prepare your visual for PowerPoint
  1. Click on the Gantt Chart Wizard button and the first styling option you get is to select what type of Gantt information you want to display. For client and executive presentations keep project visuals simple to understand by displaying only Standard information.

  2. The second step of the Gantt Chart Wizard allows you to select text you want to display alongside your tasks bars. To keep my Gantt chart uncomplicated I selected Dates. Further down in this Microsoft Project tutorial I show you how to add additional information to any task.

  3. The final step of the Gantt Chart Wizard is to select whether you want to display links between dependent tasks. I opted not to show these links in an effort to keep my MS Project Gantt chart as easy to read as possible.

3. Use the Format task bar feature to add detail
  1. From the Format tab, drop down the Format control to change the appearance of your tasks. Here you can add and rearrange important elements to your MS Project Gantt chart. In my example I added titles (name), durations and % complete for each summary task.

4. Use the Copy Picture tool for selecting the task to display on your slide

Now you need to create an image you can paste into PowerPoint. Microsoft Project has a feature called the Copy Picture tool which allows you to choose which tasks you want to show in your visual. This is useful for paring down project tasks to the ones that are critical for your presentation.

  1. On your Task list view in Microsoft Project, select all the Task rows you want displayed in your image (hold CTRL + click to select each item). In the example below I selected all my Summary Tasks rows.

  2. On the Task tab drop down the Copy button to find the Copy Picture control.

  3. Choose to render image as a GIF file.

  4. Choose to Copy Selected Rows.

  5. Set your timescale and click OK. (in my example I set the timescale as the entire span of my project.)

  6. Browse to your GIF and right click to open it with an editing tool like Paint, or click on it to open it in a browser. Copy your image with a snipping tool or cropping tool and paste it onto your PowerPoint slide.

    The Project tutorial demonstrated how to format your Microsoft Office Gantt chart into a presentable image and how to paste it into PowerPoint as a static visual.
    Read the section below to learn how to import your .mpp into PowerPoint and how to synchronize your slide to automatically update it whenever that Microsoft Project data changes.

Download the MS Project Gantt chart template
Microsoft Tutorial Template.mpp for Microsoft Project 2010 - 2016

Microsoft Project Gantt Chart Tutorial #2

Import Microsoft Project data directly into PowerPoint with a Gantt chart add-in from Office Timeline.

PowerPoint is a visual application and better suited for creating the type of visuals client and executive expect. Office Timeline is a PowerPoint add-in that imports data directly from Microsoft Project and transforms it into rich visual Gantt charts instantly. Since these charts are a native PowerPoint slides, they can be opened, shared, presented, updated or edited by anyone who has PowerPoint.

In the post below I will show you how to quickly import Microsoft Project data directly into PowerPoint using Office Timeline’s Microsoft Project import wizard, and how to synchronize it with your .mpp when you need to update the slide. You will need to install Office Timeline Plus , which will add a timeline maker tab to the PowerPoint ribbon (image below.)

Import Microsoft Project data into PowerPoint
  1. Open PowerPoint and click the Import button on the Office Timeline tab.

  2. Click on Microsoft Project in the Import wizard and select the mpp file you wish to load.

  3. Now, from the .mpp import list view, select what MS Project data you would like to show on your slide. You can choose to display some or all of the imported items.

  4. Office Timeline will instantly create a PowerPoint Gantt chart slide from your Microsoft Project data. Mine looked like this and it took less than a minute to make.

  5. Click the Sync button on the Office Timeline ribbon to update your Gantt whenever the data changes in your Project file. The sync wizard will identify any changes to the mpp file. Select the changes you want to accept and click Finish to update your Microsoft Office Gantt chart.

  6. Your slide can be updated in real-time. Below, I synchronized my Gantt chart with its linked MS Project file to add tasks and milestones, and then I made some styling changes - for example, changing colors, shapes, and text positions, and switching the timescale from months to weeks. All of this was instantly done using the Style Pane.

See how to instantly sync PowerPoint Gantt charts made with MS Project or Excel

The Gantt chart has become one of the most widely used project management tools today. Incredibly versatile and easy-to-use, it can be used throughout the whole project for planning, time management, task management, scope management and much more besides. In this guide, we explain why the Gantt chart is so useful, as well as exploring its origins, features and benefits.

The ganttproject team

What is a Gantt chart?

Simply put, a modern Gantt chart is a type of horizontal bar chart which illustrates a project schedule. First invented for manufacturing businesses in the 1890s, modern Gantt charts are more often used by project managers to visualize complex schedules.

The project is divided into tasks on the vertical axis, while time is shown in intervals on the horizontal axis. Each task is represented by a horizontal bar, often color-coded, while the length of each bar shows the task’s expected duration. In this way, the chart shows the start and finish times of the whole project, as well as those of its component tasks.

History of the Gantt Chart

Henry Gantt’s bar chart has been a mainstay of project management for many decades. However, what we now know as the Gantt chart was actually devised in 1896 by Polish engineer, Karol Adamiecki, who called it a “harmonogram”. And although it led to 100-400% increases in factory output at the time, Adamiecki only published his work in Polish and Russian, which meant the Western world remained largely unaware of his invention for many years.

Henry Gantt, meanwhile, was a prominent American mechanical engineer who made major advancements in the field of production engineering during the 1910s. His ideas included ways to organize the layout of the workspace, and the ‘task and bonus’ system for employees. These developments were used to great effect in the US war effort during WWI.

Gantt devised sophisticated charts for recording data and performing diagnostics to improve efficiency, but he always named them after their purpose. What we now call the “Gantt chart” was actually dubbed as such by Wallace Clark in his 1923 book, The Gantt Chart, a Working Tool of Management. Henry Gantt originally called it the “Load Chart”: for each type of item to be manufactured, it showed the planned quantity of the batch and its allocated time slot, plus the actual, cumulative, and daily totals – all in one line.

Henry Gantt’s original “Load Chart”

Most of Gantt’s factory techniques declined in the 1950s and 1960s when the complexities of large-scale manufacturing made them difficult to implement. However, one aspect of his systematic thinking definitely lives on – an adapted form of the Gantt chart, now a vital tool used in modern project planning.

The evolution of the Gantt chart

Before the advent of computers, Gantt charts were drawn by hand, meaning that every time a change was needed, the whole chart had to be laboriously redrawn. Since the 1980s, however, project management software has eliminated this delay and enabled the creation of more elaborate Gantt Charts.

In the 1990s, the advent of computer networking and the internet moved Gantt charts from desktop applications to web-based project management software, which brought about a new level of project collaboration.

In modern Gantt chart software, data can be automatically updated. For example, a vertical line can be used to indicate the current day. The ‘Today’ line can be visually compared with features such as progress bars, showing at a glance whether tasks are behind or ahead of schedule. Project managers can add more detailed information to elements and other components, which users can reveal as needed. This can even include discussion threads so that team members can keep all their project information in a single dashboard.

Read on: Best Online Gantt Chart Software in 2021

What is a Gantt chart used for?

Gantt charts have become much more generalized since their origin on the factory floor, and modern versions are now used for managing every phase of the project.

In the planning phase, the Gantt chart helps project managers assess many important aspects of a project:

  • how long it should take
  • the order of tasks
  • the personnel who need to be involved
  • the resources required

During the execution phase of a project, the Gantt chart helps to monitor progress. You can see which tasks are due to be achieved by a certain date and which tasks have not been. So if the project is falling behind schedule, you can immediately see what’s specifically required to bring it back on track.

In the analysis and reflection phase, by comparing the original plan and the final chart side-by-side, you can see which activities of a project were completed on time, or quicker or slower than others, and why. This, in turn, will inform quicker and more accurate planning for future projects.

Business Management Software (BMS) can connect Gantt charts to other software components, supercharging them for even more sophisticated uses. This may include triggering email notifications when a task is assigned, or a milestone is reached, or integration with the team’s calendar software so they can schedule their time appropriately.

What should be included in a Gantt chart?

Gantt Chart Excel Template

Tasks within the Gantt chart are classified as either ‘summary elements’ or ‘terminal elements’.

  • A summary element is a larger task within the project. If we take ‘manufacturing a car’ as a project, a summary element could be painting the car.
  • Terminal elements are the smaller tasks involved in painting a car, such as applying the primer, the first coat of paint, the second coat, the wax, and the buff.

The Gantt chart shows the start and end times of both the summary and terminal elements. Elements are usually color-coded, so all terminal elements within a summary element share the same color.

The structuring of a project into its summary and terminal elements constitutes what’s generally known in project management terms as a work breakdown structure (WBS); a deliverable-oriented division of a project into its smaller components.

Besides the main elements of the Gantt chart, there are various optional features that can benefit teams. Below, we’ve listed features that we think are critical and universally beneficial for all businesses:

Progress indicator. Element bars can be shaded or filled according to their degree of completion.

Dependencies (or links). These are the relationships between elements and typically shown as ‘elbow arrows’ connecting the corresponding ends of two tasks. There are four types of dependencies:

  • Finish-to-Start – The most common dependency in project management and means that the predecessor task must be completed before another task can begin.
  • Start-to-Start – One task cannot start before the predecessor task starts. But once the predecessor task starts, the two tasks can still run independently.
  • Finish-to-Finish – One task cannot end before the predecessor task ends. That said, those two tasks don’t have to end simultaneously.
  • Start-to-Finish – Although rarely used, in some instances the predecessor task must start before the other one can finish.

Milestones (usually represented by a diamond ◇, which is filled when the milestone is achieved ◈). These are instantaneous elements which mark important points in a project, such as the completion of a design, or the finalization of a set of documents. Milestones provide an easy way to see important dates at a glance.

Assignments. An element can be assigned to a specific person, team, or department. This is usually shown as a label to the right of the element’s bar.

The benefits of a Gantt chart

Using a Gantt chart comes with many benefits and will help you:

  • Finish your projects on time. A Gantt chart allows you to map out your project and find the critical path (the longest “distance” between the beginning and end of a project). Planning the component tasks and splitting these into smaller chunks makes it easier to meet deadlines.
  • Easily visualize your entire project. The chart shows the whole timeline from start to finish. There’s something to be said for being simple and easy to interpret. For example, a critical path network diagram shows more detail than a Gantt chart, but it requires training to interpret. The clarity of the Gantt chart makes it more accessible to stakeholders, and also less likely that you’ll miss something important.
  • Adjust course when needed. The ability to track progress means you can see how tasks are progressing in real time. Dependencies make it easy to see the interrelationships between tasks, even when they are moved around. The Gantt chart can also be amended as the project evolves, and this flexibility facilitates a quick reaction to unexpected changes in scope or timeline.
  • Optimize for efficiency. You can look ahead to anticipate which resources will be needed and where to allocate them. This helps keep the project within budget. This way, managers can make the best use of team members, resources, and time. Additionally, the Gantt chart enables team members to work together to leverage each other’s deadlines and maximize efficiency.
  • Keep your team connected. A shared web-based Gantt chart ensures team members are clear about their responsibilities, and everyone is kept up to date with the project, while managers can keep track of their progress.
  • Maintain motivation. Hitting milestones and intermediate deadlines causes the brain to release dopamine, which makes you and your team feel good about your achievements. Having a record of progress upfront and visible to everyone means these little wins will maintain motivation throughout your project.
  • Stay focused. Warren Buffet and Bill Gates both agreed that the single most important factor for their success was focus. Meanwhile, Thomas Carlyle, Scottish historian and philosopher, said, “The weakest living creature, by concentrating his powers on a single object, can accomplish something. The strongest, by dispensing his over many, may fail to accomplish anything.” Therefore, once your Gantt chart has been planned out, you can start working on tasks without the consternation of remembering every element and who’s assigned to it.

Read on: Scoro Introduces First Real-Time Gantt Chart

Limitations of a Gantt chart

How To Use The Gantt Project Planner In Excel

Gantt charts can be very beneficial when used correctly, however, there are also some limitations the majority of modern Gantt charts face.

  • Created in isolation. Gantt charts are often stand-alone tools separate from other important data (e.g., resource utilization). This means that for an accurate overview of project progress, you still need to use many different tools.
  • Not enough granularity. While Gantt charts are useful for high-level planning of projects, they don’t offer enough granular detail for proactive project execution.
  • Difficult to track progress real-time. As Gantt charts won’t capture every detail of the project and leave data scattered between many different places, it’s not ideal for tracking projects in real-time.
  • Updating is very time-consuming. No project is static, and most projects deviate from the initial plan. Unfortunately, Gantt charts today aren’t flexible enough to accommodate such changes. This can quickly result in double-bookings and unmet deadlines.

The idea of a horizontal bar chart showing a timeline may seem simple, but the Gantt chart’s simplicity is what makes it so powerful. It’s because it can be so easily interpreted by the human brain – and because we can pack a great deal of sophistication into it – that the Gantt chart is so useful today. Used correctly, it can be a pivotal instrument to ensure your project’s success.