The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Gantt Charts

Mind mapping tools help individuals and organizations communicate complex information quickly. Flow charts and diagrams are excellent tools for showing processes that involve multiple steps, actors, or days of activities. Gantt charts, in particular, are useful tools for organizing time-sensitive projects.

What Is a Gantt Chart?

Gantt charts are grid-based diagrams that break down specific projects across calendar days. The steps in the project are listed from start to finish in a vertical list adjacent to a calendar. The duration of each step is marked on the calendar to show long each step will take before moving to the next step in the project. Gantt charts are excellent tools for both demonstrating the duration of time steps take and the deadlines for each step. If Step One of a project begins on Monday, January 1, for example, and ends at noon on January 2, it will have a blacked bar stretching across that day and a half on the calendar. Then, Step Two will immediately start and will have a corresponding bar across its line on the calendar.

Organizations can further develop their Gantt charts with color-coding. If the Gantt charts need to demarcate multiple steps within a stage of the project or individuals are responsible for several different steps within the project, those blocks of steps can be color-coded. The larger stages can also be marked on the calendar so viewers can easily determine the duration of project stages, not just individual steps.

Benefits of Gantt charts include:

  • Documenting workflows that have multiple steps or participants in a graphical, easy-to-read format
  • Establishing deadlines throughout a project
  • Easily assigning responsibilities with set deadlines and tasks
  • Having documentation establishing the average duration of projects, as well as the history of individual past projects
  • Communicating how one task builds on another within a project to eliminate siloing or disengagement

Gantt Chart Examples

Gantt charts are a popular tool for project management.  With the proper software, project managers can make live changes to a project's progression, document if deadlines and milestones were met, and automate the assigned tasks within the project to eliminate bottlenecks.

Some examples of Gantt charts that organizations or even individuals can use to organize projects include:

  • Large-scale product development projects that have multiple stages and actors with a firm deadline
  • Project charts delineating the steps to completing thesis papers and semester-long projects
  • Digital ad campaign creation and monitoring projects
  • Presentations of consultants' planned work schedules to show clients the progression of projects
  • Construction projects that have a general contractor managing multiple different subcontractors and services

How to Make a Gantt Chart

Create a Gantt chart in a spreadsheet program or in mind mapping software by following these steps:

  1. Create a complete list of tasks or stages required in the project. This can be organized into large-task and sub-task families.
  2. Assign start dates and deadlines to each task in the project. While there may be some overlap, ensure each participant has the access and resources they need from prior steps before their task begins.
  3. Confirm with participants and stakeholders that all of the steps are accounted for and that the deadlines are acceptable.
  4. Assign tasks to individuals.

Gantt Chart Software

The functionality of your Gantt chart will depend on the complexity your software can handle. Traditional spreadsheet software will require manual updating and constant monitoring. More advanced software designed with Gantt charts in mind can automatically alert participants when their task should begin, alert project managers about missed deadlines, and otherwise track the progression of the project.

Get Started Fast with Templates!

MindManager comes pre-installed with many templates for you to choose from. To use these templates:

  1. Open MindManager
  2. Click NEW in the navigation menu
  3. Select the template you want to use
  4. A preview screen will appear. Check to if you want to use your selected template
  5. Select Create Map
  6. Customize the template for your specific project

Other Types of Maps and Charts


MindManager's mind mapping software is designed with your organizational needs in mind. Create Gantt charts that allow you to communicate with participants, assign and reassign tasks, and monitor progress at a glance.