It seems like every year there’s a new tool or technique that can “do it all.” While most are discarded just as quickly as they came, there is one method for project and resource planning that has outlasted them all. Of course we’re talking about the venerable Gantt chart. And even though these tools aren’t “disruptive” or “sexy” enough to constantly be in the conversation, they should be! Plus, with new Gantt chart creators appearing online all the time, it’s worth it to take a look at what makes them the best. So here’s some things to look out for and keep in mind when choosing your next Gantt maker.
What is a Gantt Chart Creator?
A Gantt chart is a visual representation of project activities, who’s taking on the job, and the dates involved. It can be used to organize tasks into manageable units, and it can also help you understand how long it will take to complete an entire project.
And a Gantt chart creator? Well, that’s just an easier way to make one of these nifty charts. If you’re working on a big project and have a lot of people involved in its creation, then using an online Gantt Chart creator can be extremely helpful. You can easily see where each person’s responsibilities lie within the whole project and make sure that no one’s getting stuck with too many things at once.
Types of Online Gantt Charts
Gantt charts come in all shapes and sizes. As diverse as your planning and scheduling needs are, you’ll find a Gantt that will do the job. If you take your curiosity to Google here’s some of the options your might see:
- Dedicated Gantt chart software – usually software-as-a-service with a subscription for your project management and resource planning. These Gantt chart creators may be free or paid, but some the features may be “locked” when you go with the free version.
- Gantt chart templates for Excel – a way to turn your spreadsheets into a Gantt. You can find both free or paid templates. Nice shortcut, but lacking some of the best features for project management.
Online Gantt Chart Creators: Best Features
When deciding on a new Gantt chart creator for your organization’s project and resource management, there’s a few things you should be aware of. It’s important to know how the following features can affect your needs and suitability for you.
You may need to consider:
- Visualization options
- Its ability to handle “big data”
- Customizable features
- The cost
- The focus of the software
- Shareability and real-time tracking
- Support and help desk
- Simplicity and intuition
- API availability
Gantt charts are inherently visual. But that doesn’t mean all are created equal. When looking at different software, it’s important to find one with an overview that fits you.
Visuality gives an actual overview of the schedule, shows how resources are busy, and which time slots are empty. You need to be able to see the time frames conveniently and switch between a closer daily or weekly view, to a monthly or even yearly view. Pinpoint the empty sections, note the holidays, and flag it when your team is being overworked.
Moreover, the calendar and working days should automatically sync to the past and future. Such a visual timeline is one of the main reasons to consider specialized software as an alternative to Excel and Spreadsheets.
You may notice that today’s Gantt charts are no longer done by pen and paper. Rather, they are visual graphics that have all the Gantt power with more opportunities to change, reorganize, delete, shift, and see things from different angles.
Gantt chart creators should have great visual options to investigate the plans.
Ability to Handle “Big Data”
If you took a break from this article and Googled “Gantt Chart,” what do you see? I’m willing to bet it’s samples of charts with very few rows of data and limited resources. Everything looks so neat and tidy. If only those Gantt Charts were like real life!
When choosing an online Gantt Chart creator for planning, make sure that your chart will grow with you. Even if you are now only starting with a few rows of data, check that once you have tens, hundreds, or even thousands of rows, that your system can handle it. If your resource planning software organizes all your resources in one messy screenshot, in the same color, or in a random way, it’s not making your life easier. And it’s not made for “big data.”
Ideally, you should see your data based on resource type (location, humans vs nonhumans, team members by their skills, etc.), by project-based data, or at least understand the logic between finished and unfinished projects and tasks. Make sure the software can systematize your scheduling process. Whether this is achieved by having separate views (a systematic, filtered Gantt Chart dashboard you can have next to each other), or by customizable color schemes based on your needs, or both.
Oh and with big data, you may want to be sure that the program has a data import feature. That can come in really handy!
No matter the software you choose, it’s normal to go through the process of filling in your data. The names or types of resources, projects, and timeline are all standard. There are tons of Gantt Chart creators out there that tell you how to specifically fill in your info. And which provides you with pre-planned columns about YOUR resources, projects, and tasks.
But what if these defaults don’t work for you? Or what if your company deals with unusual resources? Or what if these “mandatory” fields don’t make sense?
In that case, you need to ensure that whatever software you’re considering gives you the ability to tailor your chart based upon your needs. Create custom resource data fields or project info fields how you see fit.
You can think of it like Excel columns, easy to personalize with any kind of info:
- project statuses
- project manager
- hourly rates
- even hyperlinks and info from drop down lists.
If you are looking to build your own planning system not based on predetermined metrics, but your own data and available information, this feature is one to keep in mind.
Online Gantt Chart creators usually comes with a fee. However, price categories vary from reasonable to enormous. And price and quality do not always go hand-in-hand. When choosing planning software for yourself, make sure you know what you’re paying for.
Monthly Subscription based on Features
Sometimes there are monthly subscriptions based on the package you choose – where you can choose what features to pay for. “Basic” or “Silver” packages are the most economical and have the least amount of features. “Professional” or “Gold” ones have a few extras, and “Premium” or “Diamond” plans promise to do all the work for you. The plan you choose usually depends on the size of the company, but wouldn’t it be nice to get all the features of a Diamond plan without the price?
Another typical payment approach is to pay-per-user. This, however, tends to be not only more restrictive, but illogical. Ideally plans should be shared with the whole team. But what about shareholders or external parties, such as clients? How do you decide who gets access to the Chart and who doesn’t? And if you do decide to expand your team or take on a new client, you will need to reevaluate your entire subscription.
A rarer, but perhaps more optimal payment option is to pay-per-resource. Such pricing options are easier to control and can be more cost effective. Here you only pay for the amount of resources you add, not the people who have access to the plan. This not only ensures that everyone in your company has the ability to view your planning strategy, but so can stakeholders and external parties. Add as many people as you like! Meaning when your company grows, so do your resources.
As a more scalable option, that will ultimately save you money, keep everyone on task, and grow alongside you, definitely consider this kind of subscription.
Make sure you do some calculations to see which of the pricing options would work best for you and your company. It’s always wise to ask the software’s support for recommendations on the best plan.
TIP: You can usually save money by signing up for a yearly subscription. A lot of software also has free trials so you can actually find one that fits your needs before you commit. Right now you can try out Ganttic for free for 2 weeks. You can also get a free demo and 1-to-1, and see how easy and smooth the planning process can be.
The Focus of the Software
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, not all Gantt charts are created equal. Something to keep in mind when picking out your Gantt planning software is the focus of the software. While that may seem obvious, there’s actually a lot to consider…
Is it a detailed, daily checklist which lets you plan activities by the minute? Or is it more akin to a Gantt chart calendar, with a longer planning period which helps you conveniently plan the future.
Is it task-planning oriented software, where the tasks and people who assign them are the focus?
Is it resource-planning oriented software, where the actual resources are in focus, and allowing you to see who is where, doing what, and using which resources.
Or maybe you want a Gantt chart to be your project management schedule, with a higher overview of all the project’s activities and resources.
Shareability & Real Time Changes
Gantt charts are great for projects and planning. And normally the process involves more than the project manager or person doing the planning. Since communication problems are the #1 reason projects fail, it is important to have everybody in the loop. Therefore shareability and being able to track real-time changes are necessary features for your resource planning software.
There might be projects that need to be shared amongst certain people like shareholders, clients, or another team. Maybe there are people who need to be able to make changes and others who only need to view the plan. Sometimes there are also external people who need to see the plans, the tasks, and perhaps the utilization. If this is true for you, make sure your online Gantt planner has the possibility to share project resource plans with a URL link.
To keep your plans on time, also pay attention to how the changes are made in the program. Especially if multiple people are using and modifying the plan simultaneously. It might be worth checking out whether the software enables secure real-time changes or not. And how easy it is to track changes in the plans, as well as notify everyone about them.
Support and Help Desk
Once you choose your Gantt Chart software, you will become dependent on it. While this is great for your company, team members, and your project backlog, it’s super important to know that whatever software you pick, it will have your back. There’s always a chance that something will go wrong, and especially with technology, we should expect things to go awry from time to time.
Before making your decision, ensure there is someone to help you out when you have questions or problems. Make sure they will get back to you quickly and efficiently. Also, lurk around sites like Capterra and see what actual users have to say.
In any kind of software, especially if you are a new one, good customer support is an important feature. A support center that is friendly and that quickly replies can often be a life-saver. They can also let you in on secrets and software tips you might not have known.
Simplicity & Intuition
A scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle of summer. A cold, foamy lager after a stressful day at work. The last streaks of light moments before the sun sets. It’s the simple things that make life great. Modern life has programmed us to always want the most out of what we’re buying, but that doesn’t always mean more is better.
On the contrary, you can have a Gantt Chart tool that is really powerful and has all the aforementioned features plus more. However, that software is ultimately useless if it’s not simple to use and intuitive to its users.
There are hundreds of planners out there, but finding one with all the necessary features AND that’s simple and intuitive can be daunting. Software and technology is supposed to make our lives easier. But if we have to spend hours learning how to input our resources or trying to understand their organizational logic, then that’s time we could have been spending on more productive things. Give up on those sunk costs and get back to enjoying life.
A simple Gantt Chart planner should have intuitive, user-friendly features. One where you can quickly change views, move around, and drag and drop features. Test out the software before you commit, and if you can’t figure it out, consider that a dealbreaker.
Online Software should be easy and intuitive to use. So make sure the one you ultimately choose is easy to use.
Integration and automatization can truly make your life easier. That way you can actually focus on current problems or future plans, make more accurate conclusions, and pay closer attention to the tasks that really matter.
These days, API is widely used among software for a reason! API can link 2 separate pieces of software together. With it, a calendar task will automatically pop-up in your planner, for example. This can really save a ton of time as it integrates with the other programs you use. No need to enter the same information in multiple tools any more. Let them do the sharing themselves!
Proper Gantt Chart planning software should have API. You may not need it today, but you are looking for long-term planning solutions. You need your planner to be reliable down the road and you need software that will grow with you. API is the future of software, so it’s best to choose a product which is also embracing what’s next!
Ganttic: Resource Planning Software + Gantt Chart Creator
Whatever features you decide to focus on, remember why you need planning software in the first place: better resource and project management, to become more efficient, and to grow your company. So keep that in mind, as well as your company’s needs when choosing an online Gantt Chart planning tool. The best one for you is one that will help you achieve your goals and help your company grow.
If your aim is to allocate resources and manage them in the best way possible, maybe consider Ganttic. As a visual tool, it can help you with your resource planning and scheduling and PPM. Our focus is resources and creating the best planner, with the most user-friendly features and flexibility to schedule and manage your resources in.
Ganttic has more than 10 years experience in helping companies all around the world to plan their resources as efficiently as possible. The features and program itself has been developed with the feedback from our users to handle “big data”, hundreds, even thousands of resources and an unlimited amount of users.
Ganttic has the ability to be customized according to the needs of different industries and companies in simple, straight-forward manner. If that’s not enough, check out what our users had to say. Create your Gantt Charts online and start planning!!
There’s no better time than now to start thinking about the future. If you’re sick of researching the best online Gantt Chart creator, then take a break and give Ganttic a try. You can sign up for free.
You can also request a demo to consult with our support who’ll show you how to get started. Start your future growth now!