Last week I needed to do some proactive project estimating for a prospect, and so I busted out my old gantt chart spreadsheet. This is a nice quick-and-dirty visualization tool that doesn’t require quite as much mucking around with resources as Microsoft Project, but one drawback of my spreadsheet was that I have to redo the dates at the top every time. This has always sucked, but I have new Excel tricks from the 2009 Compact Calendar tucked beneath my sleeve. Now, I can just enter the starting date and the weekend shading will be drawn automatically. It even marks the beginning of the month now in tiny letters, which isn’t ideal but it looks unexpectedly cool.
Now I can print out blank versions of this spreadsheet to create gantt paper, which is helpful for visualizing how threads of work intertwine. The document is set up by default to print gridlines on 1 landscape page, so if you don’t like this make sure to change it. Also new are some instructions in the worksheet itself, with hints on modifying it for your use.
You can download the new version at the newly-updated Manual Gantt Charting in Excel post. Note that it still doesn’t do automatic calculation of resource usage or anything remotely useful like that, but it’s useful for a quick ballpark visualization of a project that the Compact Calendar can’t handle.