Use SmartSheet’s Gantt chart maker to visually display task due dates, durations, dependencies, start dates, and more.
Gantt charts are a great way to visualize the progress of your projects in a way that helps pinpoint any bottlenecks, but setting up a Gantt chart can often be difficult and time consuming. With Smartsheet you can quickly and easily build a Gantt chart from scratch. Below we take you through all the steps to create your first Gantt chart in Smartsheet.
Create a Gantt chart in Smartsheet
From the main screen in Smartsheet, click on the + sign in the left menu (Image A). This will open the project selection page.
From here you want to select a Gantt chart (Figure B). This will automatically create a sheet with all pre-made dependencies.
Name your sheet and click continue (Figure C).
Set parent rows in Smartsheet
At this point you now have the complete layout needed to start creating your Gantt chart. Start by filling in fields related to your tasks.
In this case, we will set the parent rows as Stage 1 through Stage 3. Click on a row to add it (Figure D).
Create child rows in Smartsheet
Then right-click a parent row and select Insert Row Below (Figures E). Here you can start entering tasks or child rows that are related to the parent row.
After entering text in a row below, click the Indent icon (Figure F) to complete this entry as a child row.
You can do this for as many tasks as you have. Right-click the row below and select Insert Row Below to add more if needed.
Now you want to color code your rows to make your Gantt chart easier to read. Highlight a parent row, then select a color from the header menu color tool (Figure G).
In general, you want your parent rows to be a darker shade, then the underlying rows to be a lighter shade of the same color. This makes your Gantt chart workflow easy to understand at a glance.
Enter dates and dependencies into your Smartsheet Gantt chart
Now we’re going to start entering the data that will make your Gantt chart come to life.
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Select a task, then under the Duration tab for that row, enter the number of days it takes to complete that task (Figure H).
Then select the Start date tab and enter when this task should be started. Clicking the little calendar icon brings up a calendar dialog box to make things easier (Figure I). Note that the chart will automatically fill in the end date based on your previous entries.
If you now look at the right panel, you will see that the Gantt chart is starting to take shape. Your tasks are now displayed on a timeline, showing their length and time to completion (figure J).
Create dependencies in your Smartsheet Gantt chart
Choose a task to start creating dependencies. Then, under the Predecessor tab, enter the line number of the task you want to make it dependent on (figure K).
This makes that task dependent on the row you chose earlier. If you look at your Gantt chart on the right, you will now see an arrow indicating that dependency (Figure L).
The default setting for these dependencies is a Complete-Start relationship. There is also a standard lag time of one business day between the end of one task and the start of another.
Customize your Smartsheet Gantt charts
Once you’ve entered your dates, dependencies, and completion times, you can customize it further with simple drag-and-drop gestures.
From the right panel that shows the Gantt chart timeline, you can drag each bar to change the dates or lengths instead of manually entering them into the individual cells as we did before. Smartsheet automatically adjusts the rest of the entries to reflect the new changes.
You can also modify dependencies this way. Click the line that already connects two tasks (Figure L) and simply drag it to another task. This action can be a bit finicky as you have to click directly on the line.
You can edit dependencies further by clicking the little pencil icon in the cells under the previous tab.
Click on this pencil and a new dialog opens (figure M). Here you can choose to change the dependency settings for each element. For example, you can change from Ready-Start to Start-Start.
You can also change the default delay time in that same dialog.
How to manage your Gantt chart
As your Gantt chart grows and becomes more complex, Smartsheet provides a Critical Path view to help you discover key intersections and other issues with your project.
To access this, go to the top right corner and click on the Critical Path view icon (Figure N).
With this button activated, you can now right-click on a toolbar in your Gantt chart and then select to see the row path, which shows what affects a row start date.
You can also right-click on a parent task and choose the Summary path. This shows all child tasks that affect the parent task. This is a useful tool for keeping an eye out for potential issues that could keep your project off track.
With that last step, you should now have all the knowledge you need to create your first Gantt chart within Smartsheet. Using the steps above, you can create a graph of any complexity to suit your next project.
For more ways to improve your project management skills, take advantage of these courses of the TechRepublic Academy.