Gantt charts are probably the most polarizing feature of project management software. Many project managers swear by them, but many others would rather poke their eyes out with a pen than use one.
Why does this helpful organizational tool get so much flak?
Nobody likes being forced into things, especially when it affects your work process. But the decision to use a Gantt chart (or any project management software) usually comes from above. Team members may have some say, but more often than not the ultimate decision is made by people at the project manager level and upwards. So if an employee doesn’t like using Gantt charts, they have no choice but to grit their teeth and wade in.
You Need Training
Let’s be honest: Gantt charts are pretty complicated. They may have features or user interfaces that make them easier to manipulate, but the very nature of the Gantt chart demands some level of training before you can use it intelligently. And it’s a crap shoot whether your office has the time to train you, or just toss you into the lake and see if you swim.
Gantt charts aren’t suited for every project, although that doesn’t stop some project managers from trying. Their projects are too small or simple, and the majority of a Gantt chart’s features don’t get used. Or, their team may already have good communication and coordination, and not need a Gantt chart to help them stay focused.
In both cases, trying to track the project in a Gantt chart will be like trying to wear a shirt that’s three sizes too large. It’s bulky, cumbersome, and uncomfortable. Better to shed the excess and stay lean.
Gantt charts work best when your projects are a little more complex and involve a larger number of people. Before introducing one into the team’s workflow, its use needs to be carefully considered and measured against the project (and project team’s) needs.
Image credit, Flickr, Gerry Thomasen