Using Gantt Charts: Teaching Tips

Topics

Gantt chart, projects, team building, marketing plan

Teaching Notes

Note that there is a free Gantt Chart Excel template, which is available for free download on the Great Ideas website. Please see this page for more information on this planning tool, or download the template here: Free Gantt Chart Excel Template-2022

Please note that there is an instructional video at the bottom of this page on how to use this template.


Gantt Chart Teaching Ideas and Activities

For Written Assessment Tasks and Presentations

In most/all marketing plans there is a timetable section (generally related to projects, campaigns, and other key action task). Therefore, students can use the Gantt chart template to add both professionalism and preciseness to their written reports and formal presentations.

In addition to marketing plans, students should be continually encouraged to engage in formal planning, so the template could also be used in other assessments, such as for new product plans and major promotional campaigns.

Teams could undertake this project/campaign planning in class, so they are both learning about project management and have a tangible output that they can copy/paste into their final report and/or presentation – hopefully a win/win outcome.

For Individual Workload Planning

Students are typically involved to multiple units/subjects – and all of which have differing deadlines for exams and assessment tasks. Some tasks require minimal work, while others are more complex and take longer to complete.

Therefore, students could use the Gantt chart template for themselves – to map out and schedule their term/semester tasks – it would also give them some better insight of how much work lies ahead, rather than leaving everything to the last minute.

Group Planning for Major Assessment Tasks

This is probably the most obvious reason. It is quite common for group/team-based assessment tasks to go “off the rails”. This is usually related to poor planning, poor team communication, and missed deadlines by one or more individuals. And, as the instructor, we often have to try and resolve the issues a few days out from the final deadline.

This template is the perfect solution. Early in the task, you could allocate a session where the groups plan out their project and their assessment task. This will help them understand the various components of the task, as well as understanding the sequence of steps and who needs what and by when.

This helps frame expectations, sets clearer deadlines, improves communication, and assigns clear accountabilities – all of which helps minimize the end of term/semester team problems and issues.

This Gantt chart could be submitted to the instructor at that time (helpful for resolving any later group disputes).

Regular Update on Progress on Assessment Tasks

In addition to having an initial planning session (above), you could ask the teams to provide a regular update on progress. As the Gantt chart has been fully built in the first session, any updates are quick (a few minutes) and easy. These could also be submitted (or quickly viewed) to check that each team (and each individual student) is on track.

This update task will also be very helpful for the teams, as they can see if they have time slippage and what they need to do to adjust to meet the final deadline = a great team communication tool, as well as a good learning experience for project management.

Discussion of Key Project Management Skills

Depending on the course/unit, group work can be relatively common, but often there is limited guidance on how to run a team or run a project. For this exercise, you could frame a standard marketing challenge (such as researching, developing, and launching a new product).

You would start by getting student groups to map out this project using the Gantt chart template – where you would also assign the formal start and product launch end dates.

Once the teams have completed this task and it looks logical and generally OK across the groups – then announce that the CEO now wants the product launch brought forward (take off three months or something dramatic). Then tell the groups to reorganize their project and timetable (using the Gantt chart).

After that, you could have a class discussion along the lines of:

  1. Did you need to cut/remove any tasks?
  2. What tasks can you run concurrently?
  3. Is the new plan/timetable realistic?
  4. Should we talk to the CEO and ask for an extension?
  5. How helpful is a Gantt chart in project planning?
  6. How helpful is a Gantt chart for team communication?

How to Use the Gantt Chart Template (video)