Why Gantt Charts Suck at Technology Projects

A rant about why Gantt charts suck and what to do about them

Gantt chart is a type of bar chart that illustrates a project schedule. It is named after its inventor Henry Gantt who designed such a chart around 1910-1915. It has gotten lot of popularity in project management due to formalization of project management techniques such as PMI’s PMP.

Though this chart can of great use when it comes to managing projects which have known requirements, known tasks, and pretty accurate idea about how long those tasks take; it mostly fails when it comes to projects with unknown requirements, ambiguity about tasks and how long those tasks take.

If one is working on a building a house, a Gantt chart is immensely helpful but when it comes down to building software, this chart is a failure. The magnitude of its failure is evident from the number of alternate project management techniques that have sprung up in the recent one to two decades. Such as Agile, Scrum, Kanban etc.

One more reason Gantt charts suck because they give an illusion of work being done, but just an illusion and not real work. So whats the alternate you may ask?

The alternate is to use the methodology used by Basecamp to fix all the projects to a six week cycle or 4 week cycles or whatever your company thinks is right for your projects to be done in an iteration. You can read more about this methodology which is called Shape Up by Basecamp team here at Basecamp Shape Up. Checkout the Shape Up discussion forum where people share their experience implementing Shape Up in their company.