Be the Project Manager Your Team Needs With Good Gantt Chart Tools
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When you begin working on a complex project, the sheer number of tasks can be overwhelming. Especially if different tasks are assigned to different people on the team, and each has its own deadline. How do you keep track of who must do what and by what date? The answer lies in specialized Gantt chart software.
Gantt charting fundamentals
Gantt charts are a visual way of representing tasks and progress.
To build one, you first need to identify all the tasks in a project. For instance, if your team is working on a website, the tasks can include copywriting, design, coding, adding legal documentation and cookie notice, and so on.
Next, you decide on their rough order and deadlines - and assign a responsible person or people to each. All these changes will be automatically shown on your Gantt chart.
A Gantt chart also includes milestones – events that have no duration, such as “design completed”. In most Gantt apps, team members can attach files to provide updates on their progress.
The evolution of the Gantt chart
We owe Gantt charts to Henry Gantt
– one of the first proponents of the scientific theory of management. He came up with the idea over 100 years ago, though most of this time people used paper, color blocks, and even Lego to make Gantt charts.
Next came desktop software – but it could only be used by the person on whose computer the software was installed. Managers and project leaders were the only ones to update and see the progress for each task.
Finally, the era of online collaboration and data sharing came for Gantt charts, too. Now they are live in a cloud – and there lots to choose from.
Here's a list of 10 popular, powerful, and cheap Gantt tools.
The strength of TeamGantt is its simplicity: you can be up and running in minutes. It's great that you can track the progress for each task in percentage points. You can also view each team member's number of active tasks and availability. The app offers a 30-day trial period, after which it's $50 per month (there is a limited-functionality Free plan, too).
LiquidPlanner is great for beginner project managers who aren't yet sure how to prioritize tasks. It includes a special algorithm that predicts resource availability. It also calculates several possible finish dates for each task. The algorithm also frees you from manually setting dependencies between tasks: the priority is determined automatically. Compared to other Gantt software, it's a bit pricey - $45 per user per month – but it's definitely worth it.
If you are familiar with Trello – one of the world's most popular collaboration tools – then you know that it doesn't have Gantt charts. GoodGantt is an extension that fills this void – now you don't have to leave Trello to work with your charts in another app. The extension is integrated with all your Trello boards – plus, you can connect it to your favorite time trackers. The Standard plan is just $3/month per user. The app won the No.1 Product of the Day on ProductHunt (September 19, 2018).
EasyProjects' scope goes much further than just Gantt: it also incorporates Kanban boards, Scrum framework for software development, and Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) tools. Admittedly, if you want to use all of them, you'll have no time left for anything else. Their Gantt solution, which offers a very easy drag-and-drop approach to task-setting. Setting dependencies between tasks and sub-tasks is also simple. The app is also cheaper than many complete project management systems: the full plan costs $19 per month per user.
Over 350 thousand people already use GanttPro, and this must say something. It also includes a handy workload planner that helps you see if you should reallocate some tasks. You can also set different access permissions for each member. Apart from task dependencies, you can also create user sub-groups, set custom working hours for each member, and forecast expenses. Prices start from just $7 per user monthly.
Wrike works best for complex, enterprise-level projects with large teams. It offers integrations with Salesforce, GitHub, Jira, Adobe Creative Cloud, MS Project, and many other apps. On the other hand, instead of a system of interdependent tasks and sub-tasks, it uses a structure of folders and sub-folders. So if you've used a different Gantt platform before, Wrike can take some time to get used to. Pricing starts from $10 per user monthly.
SmartSheet is used by such global corporations as Cisco and Ogilvy. It integrates Gantt charts and spreadsheets, so that you can manage projects, budget, and inventories in the same app. A very useful feature is being able to add collaborators from outside your company for free. Plans start at $25/user/month.
Celoxis markets its interface as the most customizable on the market. It integrates Gantt charts with budgeting, resource forecasting, KPIs, portfolio management, etc. Importantly, it lets your team collaborate not only with each other but also with your clients. The portal for clients includes file sharing with different permissions, calender, activity stream, and more. The cloud plan costs $25 per user per month.
Paid or free?
Apart from full-scale paid platforms, there are also free Gantt chart apps. Some of the best are TeamWeek
, and Agantty
. If you are working on a personal project or in a very small team, you might want to try them out. However, if your business has an extra $20-50 to spare each month, a powerful stand-alone system like TeamGantt or a fast extension like GoodGantt can make a huge difference for your productivity.
Forget about keeping the whole project in your head. Gantt charts aren't exotic at all – in fact, they will feel very intuitive right from the start. You'll have all your tasks in front of you, see who on your team is busy and who's available, and when each stage will be finished.
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