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How often does the first draft of a project plan capture every single detail? How often does a project proceed from start to finish without a single change in scope, timing, staffing, or budget? If asked, most project managers would say “never.” In fact, one could argue that the key to success in project management is not in defining the project at the beginning, but in handling the inevitable changes along the way and communicating them to the project team as effectively as possible.

Those crucial tasks – capturing project changes and communicating them to the team – have just gotten easier, thanks to a modern approach to a Gantt chart that is more than just interactive.A New Kind of Gantt 470

What is a Gantt Chart?

Initially developed over 100 years ago, the Gantt chart remains one of the most commonly-used project management tools today. Because of the many advantages offered by Gantt charts, thousands of companies have relied on them to become more productive, enhance their communications, and track results more efficiently. The clean, easy-to-follow design of a Gantt chart allows team members to place project elements within a proper context, and helps them understand how their activities fit in the overall project timeline.

Given the enduring popularity of Gantt charts, knowing how to create and update a Gantt chart is a fundamental skill for project managers in every industry. Creating a chart is almost automatic these days, because modern project management software typically includes a Gantt chart generator that can produce a chart (based on an existing project plan) at the click of a button. Updating a Gantt chart, on the other hand, is not always so simple.

A traditional Gantt chart is static. It provides a snapshot of the project plan, frozen in time at the moment the chart was created. It can’t be edited or modified, so if something on the chart needs to be changed the process can be complicated. In order to make a change, someone on the project team will need to make edits to the project plan using another interface, generate a new version of the Gantt chart, and then distribute the updated chart to the rest of the team.

This multi-step process may have been acceptable in years past, but today’s project managers are required to do their jobs faster and more efficiently. Interactive Gantt charts are a step in the right direction, giving managers and team members the ability to update a project plan directly in the Gantt chart. Unfortunately, these solutions do not provide complete visibility and context into the project at hand. Full context is often scattered across multiple spreadsheets, email or other work-related interactions between team members, managers and executives—until now.    

What Makes Our Interactive Gantt Chart Different?

Leading the way is Clarizen’s new interactive Gantt view, which allows users to make key updates like adjusting timelines, re-ordering tasks, and creating new dependencies with a few simple clicks. Any changes made to the Gantt chart are simultaneously reflected in the standard grid view as well. Many project managers find that they are able to make project plan updates faster and easier when they can stay within the familiar Gantt chart view.

Clarizen’s Gantt chart software can greatly enhance collaboration among a project team. The full record of collaborative discussions and decisions around tasks, projects and milestones are captured in one place for everyone to access. New team members can get up to speed and the history of the project is captured within this transparent “audit trail.” By sharing a link to the interactive chart, a project manager can let authorized team members make changes to the project plan when the need arises. Online collaboration can help ensure that necessary updates are made as quickly as possible, without the risk that requests for revisions will get overlooked in meeting notes or left in a forgotten email. With Clarizen’s interactive Gantt chart, everyone on the team can see an up-to-date chart in real time, even if the other team members do not know how to make a Gantt chart themselves.

For more information about Clarizen’s industry-leading project management solutions, including the interactive Gantt chart, visit our Project Management Solutions page.

Todd Valentine
Todd is a Senior Product Manager at Clarizen. Todd has experience working in innovation, product development and PMO organizations within VMware’s CTO office. He has a master's in Information Systems and an MBA from the Questrom School of Business at Boston University.