Gantt charts are a project management tool used to display tasks and their relationships to time. These feature a chart where the horizontal axis represents time and the vertical axis represents tasks. For example, project management in the construction industry frequently uses this tool to track large projects with many tasks and stakeholders.
If you've ever been involved in a large construction project, you know how easy it can be to lose sight of the overall schedule. This makes it nearly impossible to keep your team and the project on track. Thankfully, you can use Gantt charts to keep your projects on schedule, no matter how complicated they are or how many people they involve.
Read on for the ten ways you can use Gantt charts to keep your projects on schedule and ensure that you meet all deadlines successfully.
This isn't a hard-and-fast rule, but one way project managers can ensure that their projects are tracking ahead of schedule is to check task times regularly. Keeping track of how long it takes tasks during your company's working hours (often 9 a.m.–6 p.m.) and outside those hours ensures your team is making efficient use of its time and hitting milestones before deadlines fall due.
In fact, according to the project management platform Smartsheet, time spent during nonworking hours accounts for around 30 percent of total project costs. So when calculating your overall cost per hour, you have everything accounted for—both regular working hours and extras like evenings or weekends.
Are you managing a project? Whether it's building a house or organizing your living room, it can be helpful to use labels indicating each task. For example, if you're painting walls in three different shades of green, use painter's tape and dry-erase markers labeled "green one," "green two," and "green three". Labels like these can help communicate what needs to be done and how it should be done.
We all know that projects can get behind schedule at any time. So it's crucial to have an early-warning system that allows project managers to react immediately and, hopefully, prevent work from being delayed unnecessarily. The chart by percent complete (also called a milestone chart) is one way project managers can use Gantt charts for just such an objective.
Charting progress against milestones rather than against arbitrary dates allows project managers to better anticipate how long tasks will take and adjust their schedules accordingly. If tasks take twice as long as expected, you can move their due date back without reworking your entire schedule. This strategy has two main benefits: first, it gives you more control over your schedule; second, it helps reduce stress levels because you won't feel compelled to rush through tasks before they are ready.
The use of a construction schedule can allow project managers and owners to coordinate multiple contractors and workers easily. When using a construction schedule, it is easy for any owner or manager to see what part of their project is behind, ahead, or on schedule compared to other parts of their project. This allows them to quickly assess which areas to focus on to get back on track with their goals.
In addition, using a construction schedule provides project managers and owners with the ability to ensure that all of their contractors are working together smoothly without getting in each other's way. Everyone involved in a large-scale building project needs to communicate with one another for things to run smoothly. This ensures that there aren't any conflicts between different groups working at once.
Risks occur in any large construction project. Therefore, one of your top responsibilities as a project manager is anticipating and addressing risks early in a project's timeline. At every stage, identify potential risks you and your team will face. Ensure that you develop strategies for mitigating them (or ways of working around them). That way, if a chance does come into play, you have an action plan already prepared.
Establishing a budget early in a project is critical; you need accurate cost estimates before determining whether your project is feasible and will meet your desired return. You'll also want to establish a baseline of costs. This way, if anything changes, you'll have an idea of what's causing it. For example, if labor costs rise unexpectedly, you'll be able to adjust accordingly. This way, you won't need to re-evaluate every aspect of your plan.
When managing a large construction project, you must know precisely how far along your team is at any given time. Visually tracking milestones can provide a quick snapshot of where your team stands. It also allows you to measure progress against your schedule. Several tools are available for tracking milestones and monitoring project performance, including spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. However, if you want something more visual, try using a graph-based tool such as GigOver.
Sometimes, construction managers assign tasks to other project team members without considering who uses these tasks. Tasks not often used often have a more challenging time making it onto Gantt charts. This, in turn, can derail an entire project. Avoid these pitfalls by assigning duties to people who will use them frequently. This will help keep your project moving along at a steady pace.
If a large construction project is underway, many people will likely need access to scheduling updates. A single chart with small segments dedicated to key dates makes sharing these updates straightforward for everyone involved. In addition, you can easily share information without worrying about too much clutter. Start by creating a separate section of your Gantt charts specifically for team members who need to know when specific tasks are completed.
Have a daily or weekly check-in meeting with your team. During these meetings, get them to confirm they've completed their tasks for that day and discuss any hiccups. This is especially important if you have new or junior members of staff who may not understand that tasks are due at certain times. In addition, check-in meetings allow you to track progress and ensure proper compliance with deadlines.
The construction industry continues to thrive despite a slow economy. Still, with more and more jobs coming online—everything from home additions to office buildings and skyscrapers—project managers have found themselves in a bit of a bind. Simply put, they need better tools than Excel spreadsheets.
Enter GigOver, an easy-to-use project-tracking tool. With GigOver, users can create tasks, set due dates, assign them to team members, and track their progress through a simple interface. And because it's cloud-based you can access your projects from anywhere. Best of all? It comes at a price that won't break your budget.
Track your projects with ease - sign up and try it for free!