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A Gantt chart is a type of bar chart, developed by Henry Gantt in the 1910s, that illustrates a project schedule. Gantt charts illustrate the start and finish dates of the terminal elements and summary elements of a project. Terminal elements and summary elements comprise the work breakdown structure of the project. Modern Gantt charts also show the dependency (i.e., precedence network) relationships between activities. Gantt charts can be used to show current schedule status using percent-complete shadings and a vertical "TODAY" line as shown here.
Although now regarded as a common charting technique, Gantt charts were considered extremely revolutionary when first introduced. This chart is also used in information technology to represent data that have been collected.
The first known tool of this type was developed in 1896 by Karol Adamiecki, who called it a harmonogram. Adamiecki published his chart in 1931, however, only in Polish, which limited both its adoption and recognition of his authorship. The chart is named after Henry Gantt (1861–1919), who designed his chart around the years 1910–1915.
In the 1980s, personal computers allowed for widespread creation of complex and elaborate Gantt charts. The first desktop applications were intended mainly for project managers and project schedulers. With the advent of the internet and increased collaboration over networks at the end of the 1990s, Gantt charts became a common feature of web-based applications, including collaborative groupware.
Gantt charts can be used for scheduling generic resources, so as well as their use in project management, they can also be used in scheduling production processes and employee rostering. In the latter context, they may also be known as timebar schedules.
There are many computer applications supporting the use of Gantt charts for employee scheduling. Gantt charts can be used to track shifts or tasks and also vacations or other types of out-of-office time.
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In the following example there are seven tasks, labeled A through G. Some tasks can be done concurrently (A and B) while others cannot be done until their predecessor task is complete (C cannot begin until A is complete). Additionally, each task has three time estimates: the optimistic time estimate (O), the most likely or normal time estimate (M), and the pessimistic time estimate (P). The expected time (TE) is estimated using the beta probability distribution for the time estimates, using the formula (O + 4M + P) ÷ 6.
|Activity||Predecessor||Time estimates||Expected time|
|Opt. (O)||Normal (M)||Pess. (P)|
Once this step is complete, one can draw a Gantt chart or a network diagram.
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