When you’re put in charge of the success of a project, you have a lot to keep you up at night. Will everyone do their part? Will the project be done on time? What happens if it’s not?
The truth is that managing a project can be a thankless role, full of insomnia-inducing questions. Worst of all, you have to pester your team for updates. You may not ever really know the status of all of the individual components until it’s too late and you’ve blown through the deadline.
Gantt charts can’t manage your project for you — but they can give you the project management superpowers you need to see the project through (and get a good night’s sleep while you’re at it).
Read all about them here — or skip ahead to the SlideShare!
So what is a Gantt chart, anyway?
A Gantt chart is actually a classic project management tool. Developed over a hundred years ago as a way to visually plan and track a project’s progress, for many years Gantt charts were limited to project management experts.
At Redbooth, we discovered that our customers were drawing progress charts on whiteboards or creating complicated spreadsheets to visualize their projects. We said, “Hey, we can make that easier!”
Redbooth users now have access to Timeline view, which automatically builds and updates your Gantt charts for you and simplifies project planning. But no matter what you’re using to create your Gantt chart, these powers can be yours:
Superpower #1: See everything at once
With a Gantt chart, you get an amazing bird’s-eye view of an entire project from start date to finish over time using a bar chart. This is incredibly valuable for project planning. Not only can you get your mind around the entire scope of the project schedule, but you have a visual guide to share with others.
Build in start and end dates for each piece of the project. Assign specific tasks to team members or contractors. Rest easy knowing that you have a crystal-clear, shareable plan for the project’s success.
Success Tip: When you’re at the planning stage, you won’t have all the answers. How many days will it take for each component? It’s hard to say for sure. Take your best guess, and then check in with your team members for a second opinion.
Superpower #2: Clear project hurdles
Most Project Managers find out about bottlenecks after the fact. In the weekly progress meeting, they ask, “Hey, where’s the report?” and then the truth comes out: it’s running way behind. Yikes.
When you’re using a Gantt chart that’s organically tied in to your task management platform, you don’t have to ask about bottlenecks — you can spot them in a single glance. See what’s overdue immediately and allocate more resources, divide up the work, or pitch in yourself to get it done before it holds up the whole project.
Success Tip: Put yourself on a schedule. Check in on project progress in the morning, after lunch, and as you’re wrapping things up at the end of the day. Soon it will become automatic to check at these intervals, and you’ll alway be up to date.
Supowerpower #3: Get project ESP
This project is important — but what about the next one? And the one after that? By using Gantt charts for planning, tracking, and execution, you’ll get better and better at estimating your project scope, timeline, and resources.
With easy-to-understand visual records of your project’s process to refer back to, your estimates will become increasingly accurate. Before you know it, you’ll be known as the project lead with an uncanny sense for planning.
Success Tip: When you do a project postmortem, broadcast the Gantt chart up on the big screen where the entire team can see it. Together, go through each step and talk about what worked and what didn’t. Capture those insights for the next go-round.
Superpower #4: Banish distractions
Planning and process optimization are very powerful. But sometimes it comes down to just making sure that your talented team has the time and bandwidth to actually do the work.
Every time your team is distracted by a flurry of emails about a change to the plan, they’re being pulled away from making progress on the project itself. Keep your team away from tedious, time-consuming administrivia. The most up-to-date plan is always the Gantt chart, simple as that. Back away from the email, team: we need you to focus!
Success Tip: Before the project kickoff, make sure that everyone on the team knows exactly where to go to see the project’s Gantt chart. For Redbooth users, it’s easy: Go to the project workspace, then click on “Timeline view.” That’s it!
Superpower #5: Keep your equilibrium
Life happens. Deadlines change. People win the lottery and move to tropical islands. Many a fine project lead has started out with grand plans and a beautifully designed project outline, only to fall apart when something unplanned happens.
Armed with your Gantt chart software and bar charts, though, you can be the opposite: someone who expects and warmly welcomes changes to the plan. When you’ve got your eye on the big picture, you can view every change to the plan as an opportunity to learn something new or challenge your team to work smarter. Just enter your changes into Redbooth…and watch the Gantt chart update automatically.
Success Tip: Be clear with your project teams from day one that plans are going to change. Even if the primary deadline is set in stone, they’ll know that there’s room for variability — and reality — in how you get there together. You’ll see better communication when they know that success matters more to you than sticking to a perfect plan.
Redbooth project management software — including the automatic Gantt chart creator — is designed to help you and your team collaborate and get more done. Get started for free today!