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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)

  1. Guy

    Hello Hari,
    We run several projects simultaneously. How can we use the Gantt Chart for an overall view of all projects?
    Best

    • Hari Narayanan

      Hi! This is available in our enterprise plan. Click on reports in the admin section in the left margin of your home screen, then click Gantt View. Here you will see a Gantt Chart of all projects. You can also use the filters here to select specific projects you wish to see.

  2. brani

    you are very unclear about the plans you need to be on the get acess to these features. Im totally confused most of the time about all the features and how to add them to my account.

    • Hari Narayanan

      Hi Brani, sorry about that! You can view the Gantt Chart in all plans. Go in for Premium or Enterprise if you want to edit them. We’ve just redesigned our pricing page, so this must be clearer now.

  3. MikeTunz

    Fail…

    You can only view the Gantt Chart of your staff resources by the day (its needs to be HOURLY) across all projects in “Reports”>”Gantt View”.

    Only when you open an individual project and click on “Tasks & Milestones”>”Resource Utilization” can you view the Gantt Chart hourly but you can’t easily edit the starting/end point or duration of the existing tasks in this view. It will take you to the tasks details page to do so.

    If you have to manage more than one project, this update doesn’t help you. I still can’t see how my staff resources are being allocated to multiple projects’s tasks for the day (and be able to edit/modify the staff schedule) from one view.

    Fix this and your finally winning

    • Hari Narayanan

      Hi Mike, thanks for your feedback. We are already working on most of the things you’ve mentioned, they will be addressed in the forthcoming updates. Stay tuned!

  4. ERIC HARGRAVES

    This particular update is the best update you’ve provided in years. Well done! Thank you.

    • Hari Narayanan

      Thanks Eric, for the generous complements, great to know you liked it!

  5. Aravind

    Hi Hari,

    My organisation is using ZOHO for timesheet and defect tacking and the tool has been very helpful to us. Appreciate the effort put into this.

    I have a few queries –
    1. Can we have a integrated Time sheet mechanism (Approval, reporting, etc)
    2. Does ZOHO have project management capability?

    Your response on this would be greatly appreciated.

  6. Mike Tunz

    I paid for the enterprise ($80 plan) thinking it would have all these basic customization of task in gantt view, but was extremely disappointed that after the $50 upgrade (which was completely useless, thanks Zoho). For as many months as I was billed 80$ for nothing of use/value, I should be given a chance to try the new gantt view out for the same time period, I believe I paid the inflated $80 rate for at least 3 months…

    • Hari Narayanan

      Hi there, I am sorry to know you didn’t have a great experience. Please contact support@zohoprojects.com, they will help you with these issues and also arrange for a trial.

  7. Robert Denk

    As a long time Project Manager I have used the Gantt chart since 1995. I have used several software products for generating these charts. MS Project, Premavera, etc. I have been using your product for about three months now and I am glad to see that you continue to improve it’s function. The presentation is good but if used for large projects, task entry and dependencies are more difficult than others. I have yet to figure out how to add lead and lag times, finish to start, start to start and start to finish dependencies. These items are important to me and I would imagine that they are resident in the program, it is just not as intuitive as it could be. Keep working on it, as I expect to continue to use ZOHO for the foreseeable future.

    • Hari Narayanan

      Thanks Robert, we’re very happy to know you want to continue with Projects. Right now we support only finish to start dependencies, we’ll let you know when we add the others.

  8. Stephanie

    I am genuinely curious — does anyone use these features? Until the work hours are separated from duration (start/stop dates), Zoho Project’s version of a Gantt is totally useless to us. PLEASE stop using your resources to apply neat window-dressing and address the fundamental gap in this feature.

    • Hari Narayanan

      Hi Stephanie, thanks for the feedback. We’ve built these features, because many of our customers have been asking for them. Our Gantt Chart already supports accounting for holidays and business hours. This is available in our enterprise plan. More info on this is available here.