Gantt charts are extensively used in Program management to plan, track and estimate the actual completion time of a project. Gantt displays the project schedule in bar charts with the timelines. It illustrates the start time, end time and actual progress of all tasks in a project. The software like Microsoft Project is designed specifically for program management and chart preparation.
There is no built-in Gantt chart option in Excel. However in Excel, it can easily be created with bar charts. The other option is to use the excel grids to illustrate the timeline, but using the excel chart gives us more control and flexibility.
In this article, we will learn to create Excel Gantt Chart Template without using grids and macros like the image below.
Before we start, I recommend you to download the template and see how it works. There are two sheets – ‘Data for chart’ sheet allows you to input the data and the chart is updated accordingly in another sheet named as ‘Gantt Chart’. You need to provide the name of the activity or task, start date, duration and current completion percentage. Don’t forget to select the duration unit from drop down list and rest of the data will be updated automatically. The first and last bars in the chart represents the current day (updated dynamically) to give you an idea what should have been completed and which activities are delayed.
If you don’t wish to learn how to create this chart, you can straight away download the above template and start using it. Although it is not as powerful as in Microsoft Project because of lack of dependencies, it is quite flexible and easier to maintain. It also gives you enough information about the project progress with real-time tracking of tasks.
The basic inputs to create this chart have been taken from Excel Office Help website. As you can see, you need to have the following information ready.
- Name of the Activities or Tasks
- Planned start time of each activity
- Planned duration to complete each activity
- Actual completion in percentage as on date for each activity
- Activity sorting – Sort the activities based on their starting time in ascending order
Preparation for Gantt Chart Template
The details of activities (which we just discussed) are entered in columns A to E. There is no limitations here, you can have any number of activities as per your requirement but make sure you have sorted it properly before entering the data. The first activity is important – it indicates the project start date and the current day is calculated based on the start date of first activity. You have the option to select duration unit in day, week or month. Here, one week means 7 days and one month is equal to 30 days for the sake of simplicity.
The drop down menu for duration unit is created by using ‘Data Validation’. Go to Data and select validation. In the data validation pop-up window, make changes as per screenshot provided below.
The ‘Current Day’ row (Row no. 6 and 22 in the example) is used for calculating the time elapsed after project start. Click on cell G6, we are simply getting the time in day by subtracting the project start time from current time.
There are three more columns which we need to create before we start working on the Gantt chart. The column ‘start from’ calculates the time lag between project start and activity start in days for each activity. Here also, we are subtracting the activity start date from project start date (click in the cells F7, F8, F9, etc.).
The most interesting columns are ‘completed’ (column G) and ‘remaining’ (column H). In ‘completed’ column, we are basically translating the work completion from ‘percentage’ to ‘no of days’. To make it clear, let’s take the scheduled completion time for activity 2, which is 18 days. Since 80% of the task has been completed, we are saying here that 14 days (Multiplying 80% with 18 days) of task has been completed. Note here that we are converting the unit of duration in days irrespective of the selection you have made. See the nested if function in G7 cell.
IF($F$4=”Month”, 30, IF($F$4=”Week”,7,1))
Based on the selection made it is returning 30, 7 or 1 for Month, Week and Day respectively. If you are not comfortable, you can follow my tutorial on Excel If function.
The ‘remaining column‘ is used to find out the number of days which is left as per schedule to complete the activity. Here also, we are using the same nested IF function but multiplying it with duration and remaining percentage (1 – percentage completion).
That’s all my friends! The difficult part (really?) of data preparation is over. If you have understood well, we will now create our chart based on this data.
Creating Gantt chart
To make your task easier, I will use screenshots along with explanation.
- Select the columns ‘Activity’, ‘Start From’, ‘Completed’ and ‘Remaining’ together (B5:B22 and F5:H22 in example).
- Go to Insert menu and select chart. Optionally you can click on ‘chart’ icon directly. Chart wizard will appear. From chart type select ‘Bar’ and then from Chart sub-type select Stacked Bar.
- Click on ‘next’. Your selected data range will appear. Let it remain as it is and click on ‘next’ again. In the chart wizard ‘chart Options’ window, write down the Chart title. In the ‘Value (Y) axis’ field, enter ‘No. of days’.
- Now, go to the ‘Gridlines’ tab and check ‘Major gridlines’ in Category (X) axis and uncheck ‘Major gridlines’ from Value (Y) axis.
- Click ‘next’ and you will be asked the Chart Location. Select ‘As new sheet’ and rename it as ‘Gantt Chart’ and click finish.
- Wow! You have just created the Gantt chart. All it requires now is a little bit of customization and change. First thing we will do is to change the activity sequence. Double-click the category (x) axis, click the Scale tab, and then select the ‘Categories in reverse order check box’.
- We need to hide the ‘Start From’ series in the chart. Double-click the ‘Start From’ series (by default, it should be blue in color). Go to the ‘Patterns tab’ in the ‘Format data series’ dialog box and click None for Border and None for Area, and then click OK.
- Now select ‘Date From’ inside legend and press DELETE.
- Only thing left now is to format the series, background, lines and fonts as per your requirement. I am not going to help you in doing that. You have to do this yourself!
Note: I tried to put a vertical line to indicate the ‘current day’ but could not succeed. Therefore, I am indicating the current day in bars before and after the actual activities. Though it is possible to do it by inserting an external line and placing it by use of macro; it will be too complex task. If you have any solution, please let us know.
Have any Suggestions?
This is one simple and useful Gantt chart in excel for your use. It may be possible to put the logic of activity dependency here but it will be too complicated. If you have any suggestion or feedback for improvement, please share it with us through your comments.