I was recently asked if my Gantt Chart Template could be used to compare actual dates to original project dates. The simple answer is "yes, depending on how you want to show the difference." In this post, I'll explain how you can do this using the new version of the Gantt Chart Template Pro that makes it easy to see visually.
1. Keep a Backup Copy of the Original Project Plan
Keeping a backup is always a good idea, and this is the most basic approach for keeping a record of the original plan. You can view files side-by-side or compare printouts.
2. Make a Copy of the Gantt Chart Worksheet and Rename It
You can make a copy of the Gantt Chart worksheet within the same workbook and rename the worksheets GanttChart-Actual and GanttChart-Plan (see the image below). Of course, these worksheets will be entirely independent, but it's an easy solution for keeping a copy of the original project plan. This still doesn't provide a good solution for easily comparing planned and actual dates, though.
3. Add New Columns for Storing the Original Dates
It's easy to insert new columns in the XLSX version of the Gantt chart. Many people do that to add a budget column, and in this case you could add columns to keep track of original start and end dates.
With the new columns, you can compare dates side-by-side, but that still may not be as visual as you'd like.
4. Showing the Original Dates in the Gantt Chart
The first two approaches don't make it easy to visually compare differences between the planned and actual dates. The third method gets us part way there, but many people have wanted to see the differences in the Gantt Chart itself.
Thanks to Excel 2007+, which provided a more powerful set of conditional formatting rules than Excel 2003, it is possible to show the planned and actual project dates within the same chart. The screenshot below shows a new feature of Gantt Chart Pro that provides an option for displaying original dates as a diagonal fill pattern.
You'll see that this new version includes two new data entry columns: Original (or Planned) Start and Original (or Planned) End. After you create your plan using the normal approach, you can copy the dates from the Start and End columns into the two new columns using Copy and Paste Special > Values.
You can hide the Original Start and Original End columns if you do not want to use them or display them. You can also turn on/off the display of the original dates in the Gantt Chart by unchecking a box or using a drop-down option.
Current customers can return to the download page for Gantt Chart Pro to get a copy of the new version.
Planned vs. Actual in Google Sheets and Excel Online
Update 3/19/2019: Although cross-hatching isn't currently possible as a conditional formatting option in Google Sheets (or Excel Online), I figured out how to implement it using text ("////"). So, the Pro version includes the option to display the original planned schedule, as demonstrated in the image below.
Let Me Know What You Think
If you would like to comment on this feature, or offer suggestions, please do so using the Comments section below.