written by: Eric Stallsworth
• edited by: Michele McDonough
• updated: 5/19/2011
In this article, we'll examine how to utilize PowerPoint 2007 to create Gantt charts. The integration and use of Visio 2007 and PowerPoint 2007 will also be discussed, as well as the pros and cons of using either method.
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Gantt charts are often a useful reporting tool in project management. Microsoft Office Powerpoint 2007 is widely known as an effective resource for presentations, so it makes sense that the two together can be instrumental in creating impressive reports and presentations for any project.
There are a couple different ways that a Gantt chart can be created or imported into Powerpoint 2007, so its best to examine the various options and decide which is best for you. Let's examine these methods of Gantt chart creation in-depth and find the optimal path for each scenario.
There may be an instance where you wish to create the Gantt chart directly within PowerPoint. The Microsoft Office Suite provides lots of integration between the various applications, and PowerPoint is no exception. By clicking on the Insert Ribbon in PowerPoint, you can choose Object. Then you choose to create a new object and in the list, choose Microsoft Project Object.
The newly inserted object will be a standard Gantt chart like you would expect to see within Project 2007. You can edit the Gantt chart just like you would in Project, and once you're through editing the chart, it becomes much like any other image object. You can drag it around the PowerPoint slide to position it where you want it. If you need to edit the data, you merely right click on the object and choose PowerPoint Object -> Edit. When you're done, you click anywhere outside of the object and it reverts to an image again.
From here you can dress up your slide by adding a Title banner, maybe a company logo, or even a descriptive text box if necessary. One thing PowerPoint provides in abundance is tools for effective presentation. Using the Shapes button on the Insert Ribbon gives you a multitude of options for dressing up your report. You can even add animation or sounds via the Insert Ribbon to enhance the document further.
Creating a Gantt chart in this manner is nice and easy, but it does require that you have both PowerPoint and Project installed. This can be a significant investment, so this is definitely a downside. But using this method, you can create your PowerPoint presentation as well as your Gantt chart without switching between applications. This also allows you to easily integrate your Gantt charts into a full-blown PowerPoint presentation, which is a very effective reporting tool for stakeholders.
An alternate method involves using Microsoft Office Visio 2007. Basically you would create your Gantt chart within Visio, highlight it and choose Copy. You then go into PowerPoint and choose Paste, dropping the chart into the current PowerPoint slide. The chart will become an image on your PowerPoint slide. The downside of course is that you can't modify the chart (other than size of the entire image) at that point. It's a static image, so the expectation is that the chart is ready for publication. But on the good side, you can move the chart around without worrying about the data inside being affected.
Another method is to insert an existing Visio chart via the Object button on the Insert Ribbon. You can either create a new Visio chart or insert one from an existing file. If you're creating one from scratch, you can scroll down until you see Microsoft Office Visio Drawing. Once you choose this option, PowerPoint lets you choose what drawing type (based upon the templates available from Visio). Nicely enough, there is a Category called "Schedule" which has templates for Gantt charts. You choose the various details regarding your project, like the number of tasks and what timescale to use. Then when you click Okay, the chart is created and inserted into your PowerPoint slide. You can edit the look and feel of your object at any time, and PowerPoint opens the object in a "Visio-like" window for editing. Add logos, images and whatever else you feel is appropriate using PowerPoint's resources to finalize your presentation needs.
The great thing about either of these methods is that you get the best of both worlds - the impressive functionality of Visio inside the presentation power of PowerPoint. The functionality of a Visio Gantt chart isn't a perfect mirror of what can be created within Project, but its pretty close. The downside of course is that you have to have both PowerPoint and Visio installed, which could be a significant investment. But, the output you can create with them is well worth the effort and cost. If you'd like to read more on how to create Gantt charts using Visio, check out this article.
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PowerPoint 2007 and Visio 2007 are useful tools for creating Gantt charts, whether its merely to document a project schedule or create a presentation for your stakeholders. There are definite pros and cons to using one or the other - or even in combination - but they both can be an effective project management resource. So my advice is to check out these applications, take them for a test run and see if they fulfill your needs. I'm sure you'll find them to be a useful tool in helping you complete your projects successfully.