We talked about timelines on October 10, 2011 in this post.  Ane we promised a future post about how to group your activities together.  This is that post!

Here’s a refresher of what a Gantt chart looks like:






The true effectiveness of a Gantt chart comes from 2 things:  Are tasks grouped well so everything can be found?  and are the dates clear?

Before you even put anything into your Gantt chart, group your tasks together.  What are the main themes for your tasks?  Scheduling?  Project A?  Project B?  Stages?

After you’ve done that, plan your projects backwards.  Put the final date on the chart first and on the top-line  (perhaps it’s when you owe your client a report?), then work backwards.  Think of the steps and tasks that need to be done to get each goal accomplished.  List them from first to last.  If there are elements that need to explained more thoroughly, list those tasks in the left column.

If when you’re listing all of these tasks, you find that there are patterns like which task belongs to which team member, planning, research, etc, consider using a color coding system to make the page more scannable.  If there’s another differentiator, use a different line pattern.  Don’t forget to put these codes in a legend on your page (we like to put legends into the upper right part of the page).

Hopefully by the end of your planning, you will have a scannable page tat the entire team can use for their tasks and your project manager can use to follow up with all of the team members for their tasks.

If you have any fabulous Gantt charts you’d like to share, please post them!