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Just as athletes have their favorite plays and musicians have their favorite melodies, project managers have their favorite work management tools – and for the most part, Gantt Charts are not among them. In fact, Gantt Charts probably don’t crack the top 50.

Gantt Charts and Old World Scheduling Principles
More than 100 years ago when Henry Gantt introduced a way to illustrate a project schedule, the world of work was categorically different. Projects – regardless of what they were called – were not so much elaborated as they were imposed. Command and control was the best and only way to get things done.

Re-inventing Gantt Charts

In this context, Henry and his eventually-named Gantt Charts made sense, because they aligned with the underlying scheduling principles of the time:

  • schedules are fixed rather than flexible
  • there should only be one scheduling possibility
  • unexpected schedule changes are risks
  • schedules must be long term to be feasible
  • deviation from the original schedule is negative

From Appreciation to Aversion
However, as the decades marched on – and Gantt Charts forever solidified their place on project management certification exams – appreciation began to shift, and a century later it’s not an exaggeration to suggest that Gantt Charts are among the most disliked, if not outright loathed work management tools.

What’s behind the aversion? It’s that the world of work has changed, but conventional Gantt Charts haven’t. They’re still governed by old world scheduling principles that haven’t applied for years. To be relevant and reliable, today’s project schedules – and the work management tools used to build and share them – need to embrace change rather than repel it, while being transparent and enabling team communication. That is, they must fit into a project management framework that is not defined by command and control, but rather sense and respond.

In light of this, many project managers – and even more non-project managers who’ve had project management thrust upon them – have concluded that Gantt Charts must die, since they’re not just irrelevant: they’re potentially dangerous! Yet, while this reaction is understandable, it’s also unnecessary. Gantt Charts don’t need to be buried. Instead, they can be re-invented for the new world of world, which is exactly what Clarizen has done.

Interactive Gantt Chart
Unlike rigid schedule “snapshots” that are unreliable within weeks (if not days) of project launch, Clarizen’s interactive Gantt Chart displays a 360-degree visual representation of a project’s work plan alongside a data grid, which allows team members to instantly, easily and clearly get real-time insights of key task attributes, including percentage complete and dates. Team members can also drag-and-drop to adjust start and due dates, change a task’s completion percentage, reorder work items, and create or modify task dependencies – wherever they are, and whenever they’re working. They can also share Gantt Charts as a widget with internal and external stakeholders, so that communication and collaboration are the norm rather than the exception.

The Bottom Line
Over the past several decades and especially in the last few years, project management as a science and art has come a long way. And while many work management tools have joined in the evolution parade – such as SaaS project management software – others have remained behind; and Gantt Charts have been at the top of the list.

We say “have been” instead of “are,” because Clarizen’s interactive Gantt Charts bring this staple of the project management landscape roaring into the 21st century, so that they’re valid and valuable once again. We know this because project managers and non-project managers alike in enterprises worldwide highly approve – and we feel that Henry Gantt would as well.

Learn More
Learn more about Clarizen’s interactive Gantt Chart and other innovative work management tools by taking a product tour.

Angela Bunner
Angela has 17 years of experience in the project portfolio management space, mostly with Oracle, as well as with NetSuite, before joining Clarizen where she is a Director of Product Strategy and Sales Engineering. Angela has extensive industry experience in engineering & construction, professional services, aerospace & defense, public sector, as well as working with embedded service organizations such as IT and marketing PMOs.