How to make a Gantt chart in Excel in 5 simple steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 27 November 2022

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Project planning and management can be simple when you use the right tools to help you allocate resources appropriately. These tools can assist you in simplifying complex tasks and help you save time. An example of a most commonly used tool is the Gantt chart found in Excel. In this article, we explore what a Gantt chart is, how to make a Gantt chart in Excel and how to use it.

How to make a Gantt chart in Excel

Follow these steps to make a Gantt chart in Excel:

1. Highlight the project schedule in the Excel table

This step involves breaking down the entire project into phases. You can now enter the tasks in the Excel table, including the starting date, ending date and duration of the project. We usually arrange the tasks in order and they can briefly describe the job.

2. Create an Excel bar chart based on the start date

Click in any empty cell on the same worksheet as your Excel table. Then select the 'insert' tab from the Excel ribbon. Drop the 'bar chart' selection menu from the charts area of the ribbon. Choose 'stacked bar' to add a large blank white chart to your Excel worksheet.

Related: How to add error bars in Excel and why they're useful

3. Add the Tasks' start dates to the Gantt chart

Select data from the context menu by right-clicking anywhere within the chart area. To add task data to your Gantt chart in Excel, click the 'add' button to open Excel's 'edit series' box. You can now add your task.

4. Prepare a schedule

When scheduling your task, ensure that dependant tasks do not start until their related jobs have started. This allows you to prioritise your tasks with special attention. Preparing a schedule also allows you to know which path to follow.

5. Style your Gantt chart

You can style your Gantt chart by optimising it by removing any white space. Change the density of the date at the top of the Gantt chart. You can also reduce white spaces by thickening the bars on the Gantt chart in Excel.

Related: How to create a Gantt chart for construction: step-by-step

What is a Gantt chart?

A Gantt chart in Excel is a tool that helps with planning and scheduling all kinds of projects. It translates timelines and tasks into a horizontal bar chart that displays the start date and deadline, scheduling and dependencies. It also shows the number of completed tasks per stage and states who is the owner of the job. Gantt chart helps project managers monitor tasks and manage large teams easily.

Bar graphs in a Gantt chart make it easy to have a clear view of the tasks in progress. It is easy to view the timeline and deadlines of the projects, project phase, relationships and dependencies between project activities.

Related: What is a gantt chart? Definition, types, guidelines and uses

Benefits of using Gantt chart in Excel

The following are some of the benefits of using a Gantt chart:

Increases productivity

Through the Gantt chart in Excel, all project stakeholders may see the project how the project is going in real-time. Gantt chart also makes it possible for teams to keep track of and monitor the project and what action to take next or what to expect. This helps in increasing the productivity and efficiency of the team members.

Related: 13 project management strategies to boost productivity

Planning

Gantt charts assist you in organising your work and job planning. Team leaders and project managers can quickly what resources they have in terms of labour and technology. Gantt charts in Excel may also help in the decision-making process on whether to distribute the resources and withdraw.

It gives a clear project requirement

The Gantt charts feature in the project management app makes it simple to establish project objectives. It provides a calendar view that may establish milestones, variables, assigns issues, risks and tasks. It helps team members understand their duties and how they affect the entire project.

Related: How to write a project manager CV (plus essential skills)

Easier communication

Communication is crucial to the success of your project. Gantt chart project management has a comment box where project managers or team leaders can communicate easily with the rest of the team. You can also talk to a specific team member by using '@' followed by their name.

Reduces work overload among employees

With the use of a Gantt chart in Excel, you can monitor labour resources well. It ensures that managers and team leaders assign tasks equally to each member. This helps in reducing overworking your team members. Proper assigning of tasks helps in completing tasks before the deadline.

It improves time management

Time management is essential when doing any project. Using a Gantt chart in Excel lets the project manager know the project timeline and estimates how long the project may take. This makes time allocation between tasks easier and gives the team time to focus on the project.

Related: Benefits of time management (with definition and tips)

Increases accountability and transparency

Gantt charts give detailed information about the progress of the project. It also shows the success and challenges of the project and the team. Managers and stakeholders can monitor the utilisation of resources, hence increasing accountability.

Components of Gantt charts in Excel

The Gantt chart has four components which include:

Bars

The x-axis of a Gantt chart represents time. You may visualise duration using the bars on the chart related to each label. Each bar may show you how long each task may take if you're monitoring a project. Each bar may also show an employee available to do a specific task.

Milestones

Milestones are intermediate steps that are completed before an ultimate aim or objective can be achieved. When tracking a project, it's normal to know which activities you have linked to critical milestones like project stages. You may link these milestones to their corresponding bars in the Gantt chart in Excel, making them easy to see.

Related: What is a milestone in a Gantt chart? (With tips and steps)

Dependencies

This is the relationship between tasks. One of the essential functions of Gantt charts in Excel is the ability to visualise progress. It can also eliminate bottlenecks on specific projects by mapping out relationships among the tasks.

Labels

Labels comprise different project components. You place labels along the y-axis to highlight what you're organising in the Gantt chart format. You display additional information regarding elements of a Gantt chart using text objects.

Who uses the Gantt chart?

An organisation with different departments working together may require a Gantt chart to communicate and monitor the project. Although you can use a Gantt chart in many situations and offer an excellent assistant in organising your tasks. The following are jobs that use a Gantt chart in Excel frequently:

Managers

Managers have the responsibility of keeping the entire team on the same page when it comes to deadlines. Since the Gantt chart facilitates easy communication, the manager may use it to communicate and monitor projects. They can also use it to determine accountability and transparency.

Related: What does a project manager do? (And how to become one)

Researchers

Researchers can use Gantt charts in Excel to visualise statistical data. Bar graphs offer a rational way to view data in a Gantt chart. Academic researchers and statisticians commonly use it in visualising data to draw conclusions and make informed recommendations.

Bank managers

Many financial institutions and banks use Gantt charts in Excel to organise and monitor their work. Gantt charts can be helpful when developing new banking products, such as loans, deposits and credit cards. It's also an excellent tool for managing any bank marketing effort.

Teachers

Teachers can use a Gantt chart to show history. Gantt charts in Excel use several bars and timelines to help illustrate the history and provide a lot of information. Students can also use the Gantt chart in doing their projects.

Reading the Gantt chart in Excel

Working as a project manager or a team leader may require you to read the Gantt chart. The following the steps of how to read a Gantt chart in Excel:

  • Examine the project phases in the Gantt chart, paying special attention to how you divide them into stages by deadlines.

  • Look at the project time band to see if any milestones are approaching and then look at the work that has to be done by that date.

  • Examine the start and conclusion dates and the duration of the tasks at each project stage.

  • Maintain track of progress by updating the chart regularly

Related: The importance of coordinating projects effectively

Frequently asked questions about Gantt charts

The following are some of the frequently asked questions and answers about Gantt charts in Excel:

Are there any other project management tools apart from the Gantt chart?

Even though a Gantt chart is the commonly used project management tool, other project management tools are available. There are many others that you could find online. It can be beneficial to try a range of tools and find which works best for your goals.

Related: What are project management tools? (With 15 examples)

Why is a Gantt chart the most preferred project management tool?

Gantt charts in Excel are an excellent way to visualise the tasks in a project in relation to time. They excel in estimating how long each task would take and the project's total timeframe. They also inform you of which task you can perform before moving on to the next.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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