What are Gantt Charts?
A Gantt chart is a visual representation of a project timeline. It shows the progression of the projects based on the task completion. The Gantt chart also displays the critical path of the project and task dependencies, which determine the progression and the overall timeline of the project.
Projects are complex. Navigating deliverables, requirements, implementing feedback, and task deadlines is challenging. By having an overview of your project timeline, you can quickly see which tasks are supposed to start and if they have any dependencies to other tasks.
Managing Gantt Task Dependencies
Some tasks require the completion of a previous task, also known as the predecessor. These dependencies influence the project’s progression. There are 4 types of dependencies: Start-to-Start, Start-to-Finish, Finish-to-Start, and Finish-to-Finish. Let’s use two tasks, Task A and Task B, to explain these dependencies.
Task B can only start once Task A starts.
Task B can only finish once Task A starts. For example, user acceptance testing (UAT), which started a few days ago, can only be completed once the client has approved the solution today.
The most common dependency is when Task B can only start once Task A finishes. For example, a software developer cannot start creating a solution until the requirements have been defined.
This is another simultaneous task dependency, where Task B cannot finish until Task A finishes.
What is the Critical Path?
A set of dependent tasks that are critical to the project and have very little (if any) float or slack in the duration of the task is known as the critical path. The timeline of these tasks determine the amount of time required to complete the project.
These tasks also tend to have no float, so if one or more of these tasks fall behind schedule, this will greatly affect the overall project timeline. Project managers that utilize the critical path method (CPM) to manage their project schedules will closely monitor the progress of tasks on the critical path. For more information about the critical path and the CPM, we recommend looking at the Harvard Business Review’s article in our useful links below.
Using Gantt Charts in Cloud Coach
There are three ways Gantt charts are used in Cloud Coach, a Salesforce project management app. The first way is used on the project-level. A project manager can see an entire project’s timeline and the tasks’ progressions on the timeline, as well as additional information about the tasks and phases in the side panel when a task or a phase is selected.
From the Gantt chart, the project manager can also assign resources to tasks and see which tasks still require resourcing. The chart can be viewed on different time scales, such as by quarters or by days, and the tasks can be filtered by color or by task status. If a project manager is searching for a particular task, there’s a search bar where a user can type in the task name to search.
As deadlines change and task dates are adjusted, a project manager can take snapshots of the project to track the overall changes to the timeline. The side panel has a field tracking history section, but this provides a visual representation of the changes made to the timeline by comparing the current timeline to a previous snapshot. A project manager can also take a screenshot of the timeline, which produces a .png file that can be shared with external users.
Cross Project View
The second way the Gantt chart is used in Cloud Coach is on the Cross Project View. A project manager can see the progression and timelines of all of their projects. If a project is running late, a red triangle icon will appear next to the project name, indicating to the project manager that the project requires attention.
External Project View
The final way the Gantt chart is used in Cloud Coach is in the External Project View (EPV). Clients and other stakeholders on a project can see the progression of the project based on the EPV. The timeline visibility in the EPV can be controlled by the Cloud Coach Admin.