Four Advantages of Using a Gantt Chart for Project Portfolio Management

Improve your project portfolio management by using the Gantt Chart in Meisterplan.

A Gantt chart is a bar chart that illustrates a project schedule, and it is far superior to a simple to do list or even to a task plan with assigned deadlines. It answers important questions, such as: what projects and sub-projects are planned? when will they start? and how long will they take? This simple representation can be expanded to answer a number of additional questions including: what are the milestones? are there project dependencies? and who is responsible?

It’s not surprising that Gantt charts are the first choice when it comes to planning and scheduling projects. They are also our first choice for project portfolio management in Meisterplan. We believe Gantt charts provide many advantages. They increase productivity, improve your internal communication making it easier to plan, and measure success.

Who Invented the Gantt Chart?

The first tool of this type was designed in 1896 and published in 1931 by Polish engineer, Karol Adamiecki, who called it a harmonogram. However, around 1910, Henry Gantt, an American mechanical engineer and management consultant, created his version of the tool, which is where the modern Gantt chart got its name. At that time, a major disadvantage of the Gantt chart was that it had to be redrawn every time there were changes to the project. In today’s digital world, Gantt charts are much more practical with the ability to adapt to project changes with just a few clicks.

Now that you know a brief history of the Gantt chart, you probably want to know how using this tool in Meisterplan can improve your project portfolio and resource management. We have identified four advantages that you will gain by using the Gantt chart.

How Do Gantt Charts Improve Project Portfolio and Resource Management?

In Meisterplan, a bar in the Gantt chart represents an entire project. It illustrates its start and end dates, the milestones to be reached, and the project phases to be completed. You can customize the colors of the Gantt chart to display specific project properties or to highlight existing dependencies to other projects.

The Gantt Chart Clearly Illustrates the Project Schedule and Keeps You Aware of the Project Deadline

The Gantt chart tells you exactly what results are expected, when they are expected and from whom. You will also learn which project is, or will soon be, in the “hot phase”, which helps you plan your resources more efficiently, use Sprint-teams effectively, and as a PMO, support the project teams when they need it.

The Gantt Chart Identifies the Dependencies Shared between Separate Projects

Often, project teams can’t start their project until another project or some other dependency is completed first. In this case, the Gantt chart in Meisterplan uses arrows to indicate the critical path of milestones and dependencies, so that you know what must be done first.

The Gantt Chart shows dependencies between projects.

Dependencies for the project “PPM Consulting“

The Gantt Chart Displays the Key Properties of Each Project

By assigning specific colors based on specific project properties to the Gantt Chart, you can see the properties of all of the projects in your portfolio at a glance. For example, you can assign colors according to:

  • Consistency with strategic objectives

  • Business goal (e.g., run the business, change the business, grow the business)

  • Risk level

  • Status (e.g., critical – needs attention – not critical)

  • Stage Gate (e.g., idea – in approval – in execution – on hold)

  • Project phases (e.g., planning – execution – completion)

  • Saturation by workload

  • Role/resource allocations

Please note that the project bars on the vertical axis are not necessarily ordered by start date or chronologically, but by priority.

The Gantt Chart displays key project properties.

Gantt chart colors assigned according to project phases, dependencies and allocations for the project “New Reporting Engine”

The Gantt Chart Allows Efficient Troubleshooting

If a milestone is delayed, you will immediately see how much room you have to maneuver. You will also see when a dependency that a project is waiting on is completed, so that you can give the go ahead to begin that project. Red lines immediately indicate that there are complications with resource allocation if a project is pushed back. If there is a resource shortage or over-allocation, you can change the priority or timing of a project by moving, extending, shortening, or splitting its project bar in the Gantt chart to “play” around with alternatives, until all red lines have disappeared and the resource conflicts have been resolved. You can also add or delete milestones and manage the dependencies between the individual projects.

Easily identify over-allocations using the Gantt Chart in Meisterplan.

The project “Mobile Sales” shows problems. The red line on the Gantt project bar shows that there is an over-allocation of roles and the red path indicates that the milestone will be reached too late.

The Gantt Chart allows for efficient troubleshooting.

A step toward the solution: start the project earlier and extend the project. Now only the role “Consultant – Junior” is overloaded.

As you can see, the Gantt chart is a versatile and indispensable tool for project portfolio management and resource planning. Although it’s based on a very simple principle, it offers many benefits.

In Meisterplan, the Gantt chart illustrates a company’s current and upcoming projects in an easy-to-understand manner. It helps the PMO keep track of all PPM processes and because it is interactive, it supports rapid, effective change management.

By | 2017-10-04T12:46:27+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Categories: Productivity, Project Portfolio Management|Tags: Gantt, Gantt chart|

About the Author: Karoline Holicky

Karoline Holicky brings not only her southern charm and Cajun cooking (Louisiana born and Texas raised), but as the Marketing Director at Meisterplan, she also brings 15 years of professional experience in many industries including financial services, engineering, oil & gas and the software industry. Karoline watches for best practices and trends in PPM because her main goal is to help companies improve their project portfolio management and resource planning so that they can make plans that work.