The first Gantt chart was devised in the mid 1890s by Karol Adamiecki, a Polish engineer who ran a steelworks in southern Poland and had become interested in management ideas and techniques.
Some 15 years after Adamiecki, Henry Gantt, an American engineer and project management consultant, devised his own version of the chart and it was this that became widely known and popular in western countries. Consequently, it was Henry Gantt whose name was to become associated with charts of this type.
Originally Gantt charts were prepared laboriously by hand; each time a project changed it was necessary to amend or redraw the chart and this limited their usefulness, continual change being a feature of most projects. Nowadays, however, with the advent of computers and project management software, Gantt charts can be created, updated and printed easily.
Example Gantt Charts created with Scheduling Software
This is a Basic Gantt chart example. It shows tasks in a Security and Access Control project. Tasks are outlined in two sections. Each task uses a yellow triangle to indicate the start date of the task and a green down triangle to indicate the finish date of the task. Also shown on this schedule are the responsible sub-contractors for the project (in the column labeled R-E-S-P).
A milestone chart depicts key events along a timescale. A milestone chart traditionally used triangles to depict a specific event. A milestone on a milestone chart Gantt can depict a specific event or a culmination of events. Milestones on a milestone chart Gantt can be shown in various colors or with markings that indicate status. A milestone chart Gantt is usually used for top level reporting so management does not become bogged down in the minutia of the project or projects.
This example is a typical Gantt chart format. It shows how the Gantt chart format can be applied to a one-day time frame. In this case, the Gantt chart format is used to display schedules for college courses. Different colored bars are used to represent different departments (red for language arts, green for science, etc.)
In project management, a baseline is the project's original plan. On the above project plan, the baseline plan is highlighted (yellow) so that it is easily distinguishable from the current plan. Some Gantt chart software and project management software offer the feature of highlighting the baseline plan. Some project management software will let the user lock the baseline plan so that the baseline plan does not change when the schedule is edited.
The Gantt chart format can also be applied to timelines. Timelines are often similar to very detailed milestone charts. They might include bars, similar to those found on a Gantt chart, but often they will include milestone markers, representing significant events in history.
Here is a typical construction schedule shown in the Gantt chart format. On this schedule several "outline levels" are used. Summary bars are shown above the lower level bars, as a summary.
Stoplights are often used as a quick way to display project status, especially for executives who may want to quickly glance at a project schedule to see how the project is doing. A stoplight listing might be shown to a top exec, giving the exec the opportunity to "drill-down" on the project schedule to get detail on any project which he/she has a question about.
Earned Value has been used since the 1960’s by the Department of Defense as a central part of the C/SCSC (Cost/Schedule Control Systems Criteria). Recently, the DOD revised the 35 criteria contained in the C/SCSC and produced the 32 criteria for EVMS (Earned Value Management Systems). These criteria have since been accepted by the American National Standards Institute/Electronic Industry Association as a new standard, called ANSI/EIA 748. Now, EVM is being used in a wider variety of government contracts, and is spreading through the private sector as a valuable tool for project managers.
This is an example of a Dashboard Gantt chart. The Gantt chart portion of the dashboard is in the middle, while the columns display a wealth of other information which will be of interest to anyone monitoring the project. Information includes Earned Value performance metrics such as Schedule Variance, Cost Variance, Cost Performance Index, Planned Value (PV) and Earned Value (EV). Additionally, graphed on top of the Gantt chart area, are the Budget, Actual, Earned Value (EV) and Planned Value (PV) values.