GANTT… ah ahhh… saviour of the Univers(ity)

In case you were confused about the title!

So my post my first post here will be dealing with the wild and wonderful world of GANTT charts. So exciting, I know. But to be honest, a good GANTT chart is the first step in the long process of project management. We are a team of six and, as such, it can be quite hard to keep tabs on everything we’re doing and where we are at with the small pieces that will eventually lead to the BIG PICTURE. In our case the big picture is the development of an Institutional Repository.

For our project to work we need to have an extensive literature review looking at case studies made of other IRs as well as looking at comparisons of different software we can use. The GANTT chart we’ve created gives us specific deadlines for when this research needs to be finished and what else will be happening during this time. In particular, it is useful for us to know when we need to have the final literature review completed and where we’re currently at. Because of this, we need to be able to update it weekly and we need to make sure it is easy to read and understand. Therein, dear readers, lies the rub.

There are an abundance of online tutorials on how best to build GANTT charts. Most are dealing with building charts using Microsoft Excel on a PC. As most of our members (4 out of the 6) use Macs it was necessary to find a way of building one that would work for us. We could have used a specific tool that is designed to make the making of a GANTT chart easier but most of these cost money and we decided we love a challenge. I have a bit of experience building GANTT charts and so the task fell to me.

To begin with I investigated several different ways of using Excel until I found a way that worked for out project. Using a simple tutorial, that I was then able to modify, I began by simply listing the tasks that needed to be accomplished in a chronological order. I gave each task a different colour code so that we could look over them quickly and pick out what was what. Our holidays, for instance, are pink!

The great thing about using Excel is that I can go back and add different tasks as they come up, I can adjust the timeframe for certain projects, and I can very easily make other changes. I found that some of the programs that are available for building GANTT charts do not allow the same level of flexibility and so I would urge anyone considering using a GANTT chart to find the way that best works for them. For me, building our own one, while time consuming, was the best option.

Having the GANTT chart, as I said before, is very useful as it keeps everyone on the same page in relation to deliverables. It also is a great way of showing the progress our team is making. As part of our Masters programme we must keep a work log and this chart means we know exactly what was being done at specific times.

All in all, GANTT is great!

GANTT Chart March 4

There it is now, looking lovely.

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