A Gantt Chart is great tool for product management, time management and scheduling. It is viewed as a series of bar graphs, one under the other, for illustrating the time it takes to complete tasks, and the relationships between those tasks.
To employ a Gantt Chart, one must first conceptualize the entire flow of the overall tasks, and the sub-tasks involved in accomplishing them. Imagine this very simplified description of building a printed circuit board (PCB). The underlying electronic circuit must be designed, a fabrication engineer must be hired, the board itself must be fabricated, the parts must be obtained, and they must be mounted and soldered in. The board must also be tested and there must be troubleshooting.
A number of things will already be apparent to the astute observer. There is an overall task to be completed; that is Designing, Building and Testing the PCB. This is called, in Gantt terminology, the Summary Task. There are also all the sub-tasks, such as Obtaining the Parts; these are called the Terminal Tasks.
How to Create
The first step is to determine how long each Terminal task will take. The next step to be completed before we can utilize a Gantt Chart Template is to conceptualize the dependencies between the tasks.
For instance, Designing the Board and Hiring a Fabrication Engineer depend on nothing else. However, Testing and Troubleshooting can’t be done until the parts are Mounted and Soldered, and that, in turn depends on Obtaining the Parts, which in turn, depends on Designing the Board having been completed previously.
Gantt Chart Templates are widely available online, because Gantt Charts have been a standard tool of the project manager for well over a century. In almost all cases, they are designed to work under Excel spreadsheets.
On the top of the page, after appropriate introductions, the first horizontal space will be filled with a time scale appropriate to the length of the Summary task. Let us assume we will be plotting out a year’s time. Thus, our Gantt Chart Template is best viewed and perhaps printed in landscape orientation.
Directly underneath, starting at week zero, there will be a bar graph for the Design of the Board, and directly below that bar graph will be another bar graph, also starting at week zero, that represents Hiring the Fabrication Engineer. Since both tasks are independent of each other and any other task, either one could be first.
At whatever week the graph for the Design of the Board ends, our Gantt Chart will see the start of another bar graph, this one for Getting the Parts. Since Fabricating the Board depends on both Hiring the Fabrication Engineer and Designing the Board, Fabricating the Board begins at the time the second of these tasks is completed.
Similarly, Soldering the Board must begin at the time the latter of Fabricating the Board or Getting the Parts has been accomplished. At the week that Soldering the Board is completed, below that our final bar graph is started, that of Testing and Troubleshooting.
Thus, our Gantt Chart Template, once completed will completely map out the dependencies between the Terminal Tasks, how long each will take and how long the Summary Task itself will require