Gantt Chart Software - How to Choose the Right One
Firstly, I think it would be wise to go over what a Gantt chart is. In addition to the fact that it was invented by a dude named Karol, it’s a little magic maker for planning. If I would have to be as brief as possible, I would say that Gantt charts are bar charts you can use for making resource schedules, reporting or budgeting. Gantt charts are usually really straightforward and self-explanatory. Setting up your plans might be a bit tricky in the beginning, but once you get used to them, and have all your planning preferences set, they will make your life easier. Although planning might be tricky at first, there’s nothing complicated in understanding the plans made with a Gantt chart tool. Which means it takes a bit more effort for you as a project manager but it's a no-brainer for your team.
To choose the right tool, I would recommend sitting down (or standing up, doesn't really matter) and asking yourself some questions before actually starting to look for something. The first ones should be general. What is the problem you would want the tool to solve? Why do you need it to be Gantt chart tool? Once you have answered those two, and you are sure that Gantt charts are the one that you want (Oo-oo-oo, the one you need; Oh, yes, indeed), you should go more specific.
Do you want to plan resources or manage projects?
All the Gantt chart software on the market is basically divided into two - the ones that are focusing on planning resources and ones that are for managing projects. So the ones that are resource planning software at their core and those that are project management software. And then there are also the tools that allow matrix planning. Meaning you can view your tasks from resources’ point of view and projects’. If you don’t have a strong preference, we would recommend the latter. Matrix planning gives you a more wholesome overview and thus might outweigh the others. This is where the resource management software Ganttic really shines.
Web-based or installed version?
Well, there are some safety concerns regarding web-based software, similarly to cloud-based software. However, usually, the people behind the web-based software put a lot of work into making sure those concerns stay concerns and don’t turn into safety issues. Web-based is definitely the more comfortable option, especially if you have a big team that all needs access to the software. Still, if you don’t trust anybody else to keep your data safe, choose a software with an installed version.
Are you dealing with several projects at once?
Since there are so many options, you should be certain that the software that you are choosing is meant for project portfolio management if that’s what you are looking for. The same thing applies if you have a small team that deals with one project at a time. A tool that is meant for managing several projects at once will be uncomfortable, and you will probably feel lost in it.
How many of your tasks are recurrent?
If your tasks are often recurring, you should be on the lookout for a tool that allows you to copy tasks or set an automatic recurrence. You wouldn’t want your daily or even weekly or monthly planning sessions to be tedious and have more to do with typing the same thing over and over than with planning.
Do you need to collaborate with others?
Most of the Gantt chart tools offer you a chance to collaborate in some way. But keep in mind what your collaboration needs actually are. Do you need to share files? Do you need to chat while planning? Do you need to brainstorm in the application? Or are simple notes enough for you and anything other than that would be just overwhelming? If you need the option for syncing with Google Calendar or Outlook, make sure they offer it.
Finding a right tool can be really bothersome and time-consuming. It can be even more time-consuming to find a free Gantt chart software. Keep away from those that claim to be a good fit for everyone’s needs. Because - believe me - what’s good for everything is good for nothing. Unfortunately, you have to be ready to let some of your smaller expectations or requirements go for the very same reason. There probably isn't a tool on the market that's perfect for you but there are some that are close. Sign up for product demos, and ask for help from customer support if you are not sure what they are selling you. That’s basically the core of finding the right tool for you. Ask the right questions!