A Gantt chart is a popular solution for visualising a project plan over time, showing what work is scheduled to be completed, when, and by whom.
Used correctly, a Gantt chart provides an at-a-glance update on the status of the project and what remains to be done before completion. This includes information related to project subtasks, beginning and ending dates for each task, estimated time-demands for each task, teams and team members responsible for completing each task, the dependency relationships between tasks and how they support the overall project, timelines for meetings and approvals, and a general overview of the project schedule from beginning to end.
Simply put, a Gantt chart is designed to communicate exactly what needs to be done to ensure successful project completion by an established deadline. As such, it is widely used within project management to coordinate teams and resources towards strategic objectives.
The modern Gantt chart was already well established throughout industries as early as the 1990s, but its origins can be traced back much further to the late 19th century. In 1896, Polish engineer Karol Adamiecki created the “harmonogram,” the earliest known version of what would later come to be known as the Gantt chart. Concurrently, American mechanical engineer Henry Gantt was developing similar ideas on how to organise tasks within production industries.
In 1923, consulting engineer Henry Wallace Clark described the structure, usage, and benefits of Gantt’s work in his book The Gantt Chart; a Working Tool of Management, coining the term Gantt Chart and establishing it within the modern management lexicon. And while the first Gantt charts were hand drawn, making them poorly suited to the growing complexities of advancing manufacturing processes of the 1950s, the eventual introduction of computing software brought Gantt charts back into serviceability.
Today, Gantt charts are among the most commonly used planning and charting techniques in the world.
The right IT framework begets effective collaboration and oversight. As such, many organisations find themselves championing either ITSM/ITIL or DevOps. But committing completely to one approach or the other can be problematic.
ITSM/ITIL and DevOps are not mutually exclusive; each have their own goals and functions. Here, we provide high-level definitions of each, as well as a look into how they relate to one another:
To the uninitiated, a Gantt chart may look intimidating. But the reality is that Gantt charts are designed for ease of use. With a little direction, anyone can become proficient in reading Gantt charts at a glance. This involves recognising the various elements of the chart, and understanding how they work together to provide an accurate accounting of the project status and next steps.
Key elements of a Gantt chart include the following:
Often, essential tasks will depend on the completion of previous tasks. These dependencies are identified within the Gantt chart and represented by lines connecting dependent tasks.
Critical Path is the longest sequence of tasks that must be completed on time in order for the project to complete by its due date.
The resources section refers to the individual or team assigned to complete specific tasks. The resources field may also include equipment resources, as well as consumable resources such as supplies.
Applying advanced IT management technology and built on the award-winning Now Platform, ServiceNow ITBM solutions provide the tools and resources for organisations to direct projects to achieve unmatched business value. Central to this is ServiceNow’s ITBM Gantt chart functionality that is available in the Planning Console.
ServiceNow optimises traditional Gantt charts. Incorporating colour coding, these Gantt charts easily and transparently detail the status of individual tasks and what percentage is already complete. Icons appearing next to tasks show what phase each item belongs to with a toggle switch shows/hides the critical path. Options to add and delete tasks, change dates and dependencies, and accurately access project progress are also included.
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