The Incredible Story of the Gantt Chart

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Most of us see Gantt Charts within computers today. Hence, it is easy to assume that they are another offshoot of the digital era. If that’s what you thought, you are in for a surprise: for here is the incredible story of the Gantt Chart that spans across an entire century!

Rewind to the United States of 1918. The First World War has just ended. Colonel John T. Thompson, the inventor of the Thompson submachine gun, receives the Distinguished Service Medal, “for exceptionally meritorious and conspicuous service with the design and production of small arms and the ammunition thereby supplied to the U.S. army.” Thompson promptly sends a copy of this to a certain ‘Henry Laurence Gantt,’ with the following note, “A large share in this reward for the accomplishment of a great war task is due to H. L. Gantt and his assistants. The Gantt general control production chart was my compass.” Henry Gantt, mechanical engineer and management consultant, had already finished developing the Gantt Chart a few years before! 

Gantt chart

The Evolution of the Gantt Chart

Moving ahead, we reach the period when America comes under the clasp of the Great Depression. The Colorado makes its way into Arizona from Nevada through an arid, desolate stretch called the Black Canyon. And at this location, to control floods and generate power, the Congress authorizes the construction of the world’s biggest and heaviest dam. Apart from the sheer scale of the endeavor, torrid desert environment, the need to use unproven techniques and the lack of facilities at the venue, present additional hurdles. Still, Six Companies Inc, a consortium of construction companies takes up this challenge and turns in the ‘Hoover Dam’ to the government two years ahead of schedule! It stands today as a monument of courage of the 21,000 men who built it and attracts about a million visitors every year. And once again, Gantt Charts are given credit for playing a key role in the management of such a massive project.

As time progresses, the charts continue to get used in one successful project after another. The areas of application are various ranging from construction to finance and shipping to administration. Personal computers emerge in the 1980s and Gantt Charts become more complex and elaborate than ever before. With the internet gaining popularity, they begin to get employed in web based applications.

ganttchart_quote

In the August of 2006, we launched Zoho Projects, our web based project management app. Taking into account the significance of the Gantt Chart, we shipped the very first version featuring one. We bear in mind that it is indeed a great journey that has brought the Gantt general control production chart of the first world war to the Gantt view that comes to you from the Zoho cloud today. And this inspires us to take the story further in interesting, new ways.

On that note, we are happy to announce that we’ve rolled out a set of new enhancements to our Gantt Chart. The Gantt view now has two charts; the one you have been viewing shows task bars sequentially and we’re calling it the ‘Chronology Chart.’ We have added a new ‘Milestone Chart’ to give you the bigger picture. You can now view your milestones, the task lists they contain, and the tasks in these; all in one place.

The only way to set dependencies between tasks was to go to the dependencies view; not any more. You can now do this right within the Gantt Chart. Just click and hold on the predecessor task bar and drag to the dependent task bar, and your dependency is set. 

You could set the period for which you viewed the chart to the current month, the previous month, the whole year or a custom period of your choice. We’ve added a new option here called ‘project span’ that  automatically displays the chart for the duration of the project.

Please view the below video for a detailed walk through of the new features. Our Getting Started Guide also has an article on Gantt Charts.

UPDATE: These enhancements were well received and we have launched a newer set of updates. The Incredible Story of the Gantt Chart continues here.

References:

  1. ‘The Gantt Chart, a working tool of management,’ Wallace Clark, The Roland Press Company, 1923
  2. MegaStructures – Hoover Dam (National Geographic Documentary)
  3. Wikipedia articles on related topics (en.wikipedia.org)

Introducing : Import tasks and chrome extension for Zoho Projects

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Are you still stuck with spreadsheets to manage your work? Let’s look at a real-time scenario

Imagine your company suddenly receives a significant request, which is a deal breaker for your product. It’s due in 4 days. And your boss just puts you in charge of pulling it all together. You’ve just got a tiny window of time to discuss with Product Expert Tricia whether it’s possible to meet the deadline, to work with UI Designer Eddie for a last-minute interface and get the developers to start coding on this request.

Above all you’re trying to do all this through your company’s default medium – spreadsheets. Yikes!

The real struggles with spreadsheets

  • Unfit for agile business: Managing work with spreadsheets makes sense for personal projects but they break when you try to collaborate with a group to get work done faster.
  • Lack of visibility: It’s hard to track what part of work is been done and what’s still pending in a project.
  • Poor coordination: Teams which are geographically separated can’t work in unison to accomplish a common goal using spreadsheets

We already know the answer. No spreadsheets anymore.

At Zoho, we’ve developed a nice little feature to Import your Tasks from various formats like xls, json and csv files and quickly start collaborating from anywhere, anytime.

import-tasks

How Zoho Projects helps you

  • Assign tasks to team members and easily track who’s done what.
  • Communicate effectively with your team using feeds, forums, wiki and chat rooms
  • Tag files to easily find them later. This means you can quickly locate that Design from three months ago the next time a similar one hits your desk.

But that’s not all a couple of more exciting features are rolled as part of this update

1. From now on start shooting tasks into Zoho Projects with start and end dates, severity via email. Furthermore, if you wish to make an announcement use [announcement] tag and post a forum topic. Learn more about them in detail at Email Collaboration

2. If you are a power user of Chrome browser then this is for you. We’ve built a cool extension for chrome that allows you to see latest updates, create tasks, file bugs, post comments and do more right from within your browser.

chrome-extension

Give it a try and let us know what you think as comments here.

Zoho Projects Advanced Analytics: Projected Revenue Report

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We announced Advanced Analytics for Zoho Projects around a month back, and it has been well received. Project managers now tap into their projects data and get good insights of what’s happening in their projects.

The Advanced Analytics package came with a wide range of ready made reports and dashboards. One such report is the Projected Revenue report. We will see how this useful report is derived. Read more

Salesforce’s Do.Com Customers Can No Longer Do Much – Unless They Migrate To Zoho Projects

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banner.pngSalesforce.com recently announced that their Do.com project management service is shutting down early next year. Salesforce acquired the Manymoon startup, for which they reportedly paid between $25 and $35 million dollars, just about two years ago and they later renamed it as Do.com. We’re sure this leaves current Do.com customers searching for a place to go. Well, worry no more: we’ve got good news for you.

We just released our Zoho Projects migration tool that lets you bring your current Do.com data and continue working without skipping a beat.

Start Doing More with Zoho Projects

Zoho Projects is a tool that allows you to manages any kind of project from thought to finish. Zoho Projects goes well beyond planning, and helps your team work better together, collaborate and stay on top of what they need to do, even while they’re on the go.

Do.com users can easily migrate in few easy steps without losing the tasks, tasks lists, notes and other items they had already created. And of course, migration is free.

Migration is just the start

Do.com users that come into Zoho projects will primarily be looking to save their important data and work. However, they will soon discover all the additional benefits that Zoho Projects brings over Do.com, like time tracking & billing, gantt charts and resource utilization, advanced analytics and much more.

In addition, Zoho Projects integrates with the Zoho Office suite, works with Google Apps and allows you to bring files from Dropbox, Box.net, Google Drive and even Microsoft SkyDrive into your project.

If you’re a current Do.com customer, we welcome you into the Zoho family. Learn how to migrate your data into Zoho Projects at:  https://projects.zoho.com/doit

Introducing Advanced Analytics for Zoho Projects

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Till now, project managers using Zoho Projects had access to limited reporting options – Gantt and resource utilization charts. Not anymore. Today, we are glad to announce the Zoho Projects Advanced Analytics Add-on, powered by Zoho Reports. Project managers can use this analytics add-on to know & track their key project metrics, and get lots of insights from their projects data.

Read more

Organize your work better with skip weekends and holidays

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Customer feedback is the most essential and valuable for any business. And the most challenging part is how to keep customers happy? What is that significant functionality they really miss or need from your product?

The best way is to ask and listen to customer feedback.

But it doesn’t stop there you need to review all those feedback as it directly influences what changes you are going to bring about for the next update. On this front, we too were getting bombarded with lots of such requests that gave us valuable insights about what needs to be done in Zoho Projects.

See what some of our customers had to say

customer-calendar

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Zoho Projects iPhone / Android Mobile App updates

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A couple of months ago we made an announcement that our Zoho Projects Mobile Apps goes FREE for all users – both iPhone and Android Mobile App.

Fast forward now we’re pretty excited with the uptake it has got among our customers and were bombarded with lot of feed backs and suggestions to improve our Mobile Apps. We LISTENED to all your views and delighted to introduce a bunch of enhancements and bug fixes that makes it easier than ever for you to connect from anywhere and get your work done much faster with Zoho Projects.

Here’s the list of all the cool things you can try out on your mobile

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