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Gantt chart in Agile – how to make it work?

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Gantt diagrams in the context of Agile are a widely discussed topic. Gantt charts date back to the mid-1890s and are deeply rooted in Classic (Waterfall) project management. This roadmap is a staple of linear project planning. However, as times change, so does the Gantt chart – it can be a highly useful tool within the chosen Agile framework. 

A very brief history of the Gantt chart

The history of Gantt charts spans over a century of innovation and evolution. According to Gantt.com, The first Gantt chart was devised in the mid-1890s by Karol Adamiecki, a Polish engineer who ran steelworks in southern Poland and had become interested in management ideas and techniques. 

Around 15 years later, the chart was adopted and upgraded by Henry Gantt, an American engineer, and project management consultant. His version sits so well that the chart officially becomes associated with his name. His chart was a simple paper-based diagram that showed the start and end dates of individual tasks as well as their duration. It was prepared by hand, and with each project’s change or amends, it was necessary to redraw the whole chart. Fortunately, these days, editing a Gantt chart with project management software only takes a few clicks, making it one of the best tools companies can use to improve workflow efficiency.

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Agile or a new player joins the table

100 years later a group of 17 passionate individuals from the software industry decided to flip the table with the Agile Manifesto. Published in 2001, it was centered around 4 core values:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change by following a plan

Naturally, it was a far departure from rigid and by-the-book rules popularized by the Classic (Waterfall) approach. But Agile was a welcomed change, especially for IT professionals that need more flexibility in an ever-changing technology environment. Since then, adopting or at least declarations to adopt Agile could’ve been often heard from CEOs.

After two decades since the Agile Manifesto landed, the Classic approach is still popular. Even though 71% of companies claim to adopt Agile, it’s rarely in its “purest” form. Most organizations are looking for something in-between – a synthesis of old and new ways. This approach is mostly known as Hybrid. Its popularity stems from being regarded as its transformative nature – it allows us to blend tools from both worlds to our benefit. No wonder the Gantt chart, so popular and revered throughout the decades, wasn’t just thrown out of the window. Instead, it becomes a tool you can successfully use within Agile management.

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Agile and Gantt: the best from both worlds

For Agile frameworks, Gantt Chart is an excellent source of knowledge for distributed teams. When people don’t see each other very often, they work from different countries or even continents; the Gantt chart serves as a great roadmap for the company’s goals and visions. It’s a universally understood tool due to its relatively simple visual cues – learning what you are supposed to see is easy. There’s no need to train people how to read the chart.

Gantt chart brings the much-needed sense of progress. If teams track progress, they can share their milestones on the roadmap and track the remaining effort. Also, they can put the Sprint dates on a timeline. This way, the interested parties are aware of essential ceremonies /events and the estimated time they will work on a particular product or project. Gantt charts keep everyone up to date.

Intland Software points out, that the Gantt chart is also a useful tool for higher-level planning for complex programs by visualizing how each development stream relates to the others in time, and, to a limited extent, can even represent relationships between them.

The Gantt chart’s usefulness does not end with a pure supervision aspect. It can effectively fight scope creep – a situation where new items are added to the sprint midway through it and clogging it. How? By breaking down the work into smaller, more manageable chunks, that can be added to the sprint’s workflow and supervised. Speaking of tracking items, a properly set Gantt chart allows managers to follow dependencies between projects and pinpoints potential delays, and, if needed, reroute the resources from one project to another for more efficient use.

Moreover, the Gantt chart is a great transitional tool. Collaboration between Agile and non-Agile teams can be significantly improved with it, as it’s easy to understand for everyone, regardless of the framework or approach they use. Most companies tend to stay in this Hybrid, transformational state between the Classic and Agile approaches, meaning the Gantt charts are far from being obsolete.

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BigGantt – take your charts to the higher level 

Whether you use your Gantt chart as a roadmap for the teams or to present the estimates for stakeholders, BigGantt is the most powerful Jira app you can use. It covers all levels of management, from project schedules to portfolio timelines, and product roadmaps. It also improves visual aspects of your Jira roadmaps, linear visualization of initiatives in time, and gives you full data control with drag and drop and inline editing.

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BigGantt – main advantages:

  • Craft informative timelines.
  • Visualize and plan initiatives on Gantt charts.
  • Model and monitor workloads and efficiently allocate resources.
  • Create various what-if scenarios.
  • Visualize dependencies between specific tasks, groups of deliverables, or whole initiatives.
  • Set milestones and define critical paths.

BigGantt is also a great tracking tool. You can use it to track the progress of all your projects in a standardized way or track time spent on initiatives in relation to original estimates. Finally, it allows you to visualize high-level project data in the form of a hierarchical tree or a neat timeline.

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