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Project Management - The myth of the Gantt chart


John PattersonDeveloped as a production tool back in 1917 by the American engineer Henry L. Gantt, the Gantt chart that we know today is used to give an overview of many a modern day project in the form of Microsoft Project.  Used as part of the planning in modern-day project management, it is one of the most commonly used and well-known tools worldwide.

But is the Gantt chart that we all know, suitable and indeed useful for all stakeholders in a project?

Perhaps the ‘Myth of the Gantt chart’ lies within this question.

 For senior sponsors such as CEOs or CFOs, a detailed Gantt chart view is far too detailed for their requirements. They need to see a very high level overview of how a project is progressing; surely the Gantt chart therefore does not meet their requirements.

The Gantt chart, especially those created in MS Project contain far too much irrelevant detail for these ‘C’ level execs and are overly complicated for reporting information into their board.  

At project level, using Gantt charts could also be overly time-consuming and an unnecessary administrative burden. Whilst the planning of a project is clearly very important, it should not take away from the task in hand which is to ensure the work is completed.

But does this mean that a Gantt chart isn’t suitable for anyone involved in a project?

Actually, no - many project managers use MS Project with rigour, enjoying the rich functionality that it has and enables them to co-ordinate a project to a level of detail that works for them.

Alternative means for planning and communicating a project in an easy, illustrative form would be to use a product like PowerPoint or MS Visio. This quick and clear method surely beats the highly complex Gantt chart within MS Project and is still able to highlight grouped activities detailing inter-dependencies.

The question that has to be asked is, does MS project fit into your organisation?

Have you seen our white paper on avoiding the pitfalls of project management?