What is Gantt chart?
A Gantt chart, named after the American Mechanical Engineer, Henry Laurence Gantt, who made these charts popular around 1910-1915, is a chart that shows graphically how your project tasks are progressing with time.
Creating a Gantt chart in Excel is easy and while you do this you also learn how Excel handles dates and other interesting features.
As you know every project can be divided into many tasks. Each task has a start date, the time required to complete the task and therefore an end date. You input these data in separate columns with the headers: Tasks, Star Date, Time required (days), End Date. Now you select your data including the headers, click on the chart wizard, bar chart and the sub-chart called 'stack bar'. Once you click 'OK' your bar chart appears.
Now you need to format the chart appropriately. The bar chart appears with the tasks from top to bottom. You can reverse this so that the task 1 appears first. Double click on the 'category axis', select scale and then select 'categories in reverse order'. You can now find out the numbers that correspond to your dates by right-clicking in the date cell of the first task, select 'format cells...' and finally number in the window that pops up. Note down the numerical value of the date. Do the same with the end date of your last task. Next double click on the value axis which has the dates above it. In the minimum and maximum value text boxes in the 'Format Axis' window under Scale, input both the values. Then select the blue bars that represent the start dates of each task, right-click, 'select format data series' and in the pop-up window under patterns select 'none' under border and 'none under area'. Your Gannt chart is ready. If you like you can tweak it by changing the font size of the tasks or dates.
Although this is a simple Gantt chart but it serves the purpose of understanding what are Gantt charts and how they help us in monitoring our projects. And you used your Excel without any further investments.