How to use Gantt charts for Agile project management
Gantt charts are a classic and useful way to create a project schedule. Typically, they’re used to show the project’s tasks, events and activities between a specific start and finish date (the project timeline), making it clear to the whole team what needs working on and what milestones need to be achieved.
Traditionally, Gantt charts tend to break down projects into smaller chunks of activities that are based on a waterfall methodology, helping project managers identify the knock-on effects that delays can have. Based on this, even thinking about using a Gantt chart for an Agile environment may seem ludicrous, but there is a way to make it work.
Gantt charts can be used to visualise and plan the tasks and deliverables in an agile project. Agile methodologies, such as Scrum and Lean, emphasise flexibility, collaboration, and iteration, and Gantt charts can help teams track their progress and adjust their plans as needed.
When to use Gantt charts for Agile project management
A Gantt chart isn’t a requirement, so think about whether it will actually help to organise your work and help you track projects in a helpful way, or if it’s just adding an unnecessary admin layer. Remember, the PPM software you choose will be a big determining factor in whether the Gantt chart is simple to use or over-complex!
4 key benefits to using Agile Tasks in Gantt charts
If using a Gantt chart to map out your agile tasks sounds helpful, then it’s definitely worth your team using one for your Agile projects.
- Sprints involve sets of dependent tasks so during the planning process, these can be added to the Gantt chart and can be used to map the dependencies and how each task relates to others.
- To keep on top of the tasks, you can identify any that are at risk of being incomplete and remove them and all of their dependencies from the sprint.
- Colour-code your sprints for easy identifiers for comparisons, helping to track the progress against others.
- Understand a team’s efficiency based on the time it takes to complete tasks and sprints.
How using Agile Gantt charts can boost collaboration
Agile Gantt charts can be a great tool for collaboration in teams too, providing the functionality of your PPM software also aids this.
- When using PPM software like Fluid, you can assign team members to tasks and attach files for easy collaboration.
- Track the progress of sprints.
- Identify which tasks can be removed from a sprint.
- Projected time scales for tasks allow project managers to understand resource demand during a sprint and take action as necessary.
4 Key milestones in Agile project management
In Agile project management methodology, the emphasis is on delivering small increments of work frequently. The specific milestones on a Gantt chart for an Agile project will vary based on the needs of the project and the practices of the Agile team, but some key milestones may be include:
- Iteration planning: At the beginning of each iteration (more commonly known as a "sprint"), the team reviews the work to be completed and creates a plan for the iteration.
- Demo and review: At the end of each iteration, teams show the work that’s been completed to stakeholders and get initial feedback.
- Retrospective: After each iteration, the team has a retrospective meeting to review what went well, and any improvements the next iteration.
- Release planning: As the project progresses, the team may hold release planning meetings to determine what work will be included in the next release.
6 steps to model a Gantt chart for Agile and Waterfall
You may have projects that require Gantt charts for both Agile and Waterfall sprints. These steps for modelling a Gantt chart can help you ensure both of these project management methodologies are catered to:
- Phases of the project: Identify the phases of the project and define the key deliverables that need to be completed in each phase. This will typically include a planning phase, an execution phase, and a closure phase.
- Deliverables for each phase: For each phase of the project, define the specific deliverables that need to be completed such as requirement gathering, design, development, testing, and deployment.
- Agile sprints: Identify the agile sprints that will be used to complete the deliverables in the execution phase of the project.
- Duration of each sprint: Define the duration of each agile sprint, as well as the deliverables that will be completed during each sprint.
- Create the Gantt chart: Use adaptable and intuitive PPM software such as Fluid to create a Gantt chart as a visual representation of the project, including the phases, deliverables, and sprints.
- Update the Gantt chart as the project progresses: As the project progresses, update the Gantt chart to reflect the status of each task and sprint.
Overall, Gantt charts can be a useful tool for visualising and managing Agile projects, as long as they are used in a way that is consistent with the principles of agile methodologies. Having ppm software that has the advanced features to facilitate this does make it easier.