Introduction to Project Management and Gantt Views

With Spreadsheet.com, you can quickly create interactive Gantt charts side-by-side with your spreadsheet data to visualize work schedules and relationships between tasks.

Gantt Views are a premium feature available on Standard, Premium, and Enterprise plans. To learn more about Spreadsheet.com's paid plans, see our suite of articles on Billing, Payment, and Credit.

Gantt views add an interactive Gantt chart timeline to the right of your worksheet showing taskbars corresponding to each row in the table region. Gantt views are great for project management as they let you visualize dependent tasks, parent and child relationships, your project's critical path, and more.

In adding a Gantt view, you can transform a sheet view like this...

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...into a layout like this:

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Creating Gantt Views

Like all other view types, you can create a new Gantt view by opening the View menu dropdown from the top navigation bar and clicking the + New view button at the bottom of the dropdown. From there, select "Gantt" from the secondary menu.

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When you create a new Gantt view, the first thing Spreadsheet.com asks you to do is configure your Project Management settings. Project Management settings inform the relationship between the data in your Gantt view and the Gantt chart itself. Let's take a closer look at the Project Management Settings dialog.

Configuring Your Project Management Settings

With your Gantt view open, you can edit your Project Management settings at any time by clicking on the calendar icon in the upper right corner of the workbook.

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Clicking on the Project Management icon will open the Project Management dialog.

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Under the "Enable project management" header at top, you can specify which worksheet column corresponds to which Gantt view feature, like start and end dates, durations, assigned users, and task status.

Columns selected for project management must remain as the data type required for project management features. For instance, you cannot change an end date column to the text data type.

Below, under the "Working days" header, you can specify which days of the week are designated as "working days" to accurately track task durations, as well as specify the start time and length of a working day.

At bottom, under the "Enable dependencies" header, you can toggle dependencies on and off and designate a column where predecessor tasks will be listed. We'll explore dependencies further later in this article.

Click the blue Save button in the bottom right hand corner to save your preferences and return to your Gantt view.

Overview: Configuring Your Gantt View

You can configure the Gantt chart component of your Gantt view from the upper right corner of your workbook.

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  1. Zoom level: The zoom level dropdown allows you to control the granularity of time displayed on your Gantt chart, ranging from hours to years.
  2. Zoom Out/Zoom In: Use the zoom buttons to make more incremental adjustments to the granularity of time displayed on your Gantt chart.
  3. Today: Click "Today" to automatically center your Gantt chart on today's date.
  4. Critical path: Toggle the critical path button to highlight or not display the critical path on your Gantt chart.
  5. Gantt appearance: The Gantt appearance dropdown enables you to control the visual presentation of your Gantt chart, including specifying the taskbar labels and colors and showing or hiding non-working days and hours, the today line, and dependency lines.
  6. Project Management: Open the Project Management settings dialog to configure and manage the information in your Gantt view.

Managing Your Gantt View

Task Hierarchies

Individual tasks in your project plan may be components of overarching parent tasks. For example, "Product Plan" and "Marketing Plan" may be two separate scopes of work, each with their own set of child tasks. Task hierarchies differ from task dependencies in that parent tasks do not depend on child tasks, and the parent task is often not an individual task itself.

In the example below, "Launch Event Plan" (Row 10) is a child task of "Launch Schedule" (Row 9), which itself is a child task of "Product Plan" (Row 6) along with "Product Use Case Definition" and "Business Requirements" (Rows 7 and 8).

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Note how parent tasks and child tasks differ visually in the Gantt chart. Some fields of parent tasks – like start and end dates and percent complete – cannot be edited directly, as they are functions of the relevant fields in their child tasks.

For more information about hierarchical relationships in Gantt views, check out our article on task hierarchies.

Expanding and Dragging Tasks

Each line in the Gantt chart corresponds to a row in your project plan and can be edited either in the worksheet or directly from the Gantt chart. Double-clicking on a line expands the line, just like expanding the row. Similarly, you can drag and drop lines to adjust their timing and duration, and the changes will be reflected in the respective columns.

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Milestones

Setting a task's duration to 0 days will create a "milestone" notated as a diamond in your Gantt chart. Milestones are often used in projects as moments when you assess progress, like critical or intermediate checkpoints, or significant points in project completion.

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Percent Complete

Lines in the Gantt chart can indicate the percent complete for a given row as a function of days remaining and project status. The percentage of the taskbar that is shaded corresponds with the percentage of the task completed as specified in your sheet.

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In row hierarchies, parent cells automatically calculate their percentage complete as a function of all child cells' percentage complete.

Dependencies

Dependencies allow you to track tasks that must start after another task has finished. Dependencies can be established between tasks by dragging connections between taskbar antennae. When you create a new dependency directly on the Gantt chart, the relationship will be reflected in the "Predecessor" column.

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Task dependencies are a premium feature available on Premium and Enterprise plans. To learn more about Spreadsheet.com's paid plans, see our suite of articles on Billing, Payment, and Credit.

The Critical Path

The Critical path is the series of tasks that determines the duration of the project as a whole. Delays to critical path activities often translate to delays to the overall project, so project managers often find it helpful to easily identify those activities. Spreadsheet.com's Gantt views can automatically identify a project's critical path and highlight it on the Gantt chart. In the example below, the critical path and its dependency lines are highlighted in red.

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You can toggle the critical path on or off by selecting the Critical path icon in the upper right corner of your workbook.

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For more information about configuring and using the critical path feature, check out our article on Critical paths.

Changing Your Gantt Chart's Appearance

You can control how your Gantt chart looks by clicking the Gantt appearance icon in the upper right corner of your workbook.

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Here, you can specify the columns used for the taskbar labels and colors, as well as toggle non-working days and hours, the today line, and dependency lines on and off.

You can also use the drag handle on the left side of your Gantt chart to make the Gantt chart wider or more narrow.

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Read on to learn more about working with Gantt views and Project Management settings, including managing task dependencies, establishing task hierarchies, and identifying the critical path.