When talking about Gantt charts and Kanban boards, most people tend to think you have to choose one or the other. Those practicing traditional project management approaches plan using the Gantt chart, and those more into Agile visualize their tasks on Kanban boards. However, you do not necessarily have to choose between the two tools – you can use both.
Let’s discuss both of them and see how the two popular approaches can be combined creating a Kanban Gantt chart.
Traditional project planning – the Gantt chart
The Gantt chart comes from the traditional project management family. It was first introduced in the 1910s and has since been one of the most popular project management tools.
The most simple-looking Gantt charts feature a list of project phases on the left and a graph bar showing the duration of each phase on the right. This allows for the project manager to plan out the project phases (or sometimes tasks) in a timeline view. Giving an easy way to understand project duration and reestimate if any of the phases are delayed.
Nowadays, most Gantt chart tools also include task dependencies, completion percentages, assignments, and various other important project information. Thus expanding the information provided in the Gantt chart and making this tool even more powerful.
Project planning with a Kanban board
The Kanban board on the other hand is a lot newer to the project management world. This tool gained popularity in the last decade mostly through the Kanban framework. Due to its flexibility and visualization capability, Kanban boards became the new way to visualize your process. Let’s look at their composition to further compare Gantt chart vs Kanban.
The most simple Kanban boards are composed of 3 sections:
- Backlog – for planned work
- Work in progress – for the tasks the team is working on at the moment.
- Output – for all finished tasks.
Depending on the exact process of the team, these sections are expanded with additional steps (or columns), subprocesses (subcolumns), and swimlanes. Thus creating the perfect board for any team. The main benefit of using Kanban boards is the ability to understand the team’s process and quickly react to any changes. Which seems to be lacking with traditional project management approaches.
Kanban swimlanes as project phases
As mentioned above, modern Kanban boards are equipped with a variety of additional features. The one that brings these boards closest to the Gantt chart is Kanban Swimlanes. Essentially these are simply rows on a Kanban board vs Gantt chart. Which can be used in a variety of ways – separating teams, projects, departments, etc.
For those used to Gantt charts, however, Swimlanes are a great way to introduce project phases into the board. Just like with Gantt, they allow to divide the project into clear stages and plan it out accordingly. Moreover, with tools that allow you to use both views at the same time, such an addition offers continuity.
Check out these Kanban board examples to see how different teams use this tool.
Kanban vs Gantt Chart – differences and strengths
So as you can see, Kanban vs Gantt chart discussion seems to be a clash of two different approaches to project management. One helps see the day-to-day progress of the team and the other allows you to plan ahead and manage according to deadlines.
To make sure the differences between the two are even clearer, let’s compare the two tools side by side.
|Gantt chart||Kanban board|
|PM Method||Waterfall or Traditional||Agile|
|Visualization||Based on a timeline||Based on team process steps|
|Work is limited by||Time||Number of tasks/effort amount|
|Focus||Meeting project deadlines||Monitoring individual task progress|
|Best for||Long-term planning, an overview of multiple projects||Daily process monitoring, team task management|
Task dependencies Kanban vs Gantt chart
One last argument for sake of differences between the two tools could be made in the case of task dependency management.
With the Gantt chart, dependencies are visualized with arrows between the dependent tasks. This quickly shows which tasks depend on each other and what has to be finished first.
With the Kanban board, on the other hand, there is no visualization of dependencies on the task board itself. The number of tasks in progress is limited with a WIP (work in progress) limit. However, this does not show the dependencies between tasks. To solve this issue, project management tools add icons to the Kanban cards to visualize if a task is waiting on something to be finished or blocking a task. This is a way to quickly relay dependency information, while more details are found in the task details.
Kanban Gantt chart
By now, you may be wondering, so what is a Kanban Gantt chart if these are two separate tools? Well, a Kanban Gantt chart is not just one view, but rather a project management tool that combines both of these views and allows you to use them simultaneously.
With the current capabilities of project management solutions, you no longer have to choose to use one or the other. Instead, you can freely switch between these views depending on what you currently need. Thus creating your own Kanban Gantt chart. The best part is that you get two different viewpoints on the same data and can make decisions more easily.
This is how the views switch in the Kanban Gantt chart.
Wondering when to choose the Gantt chart vs Kanban board?
Use the Gantt view for – project planning, managing multiple projects or teams, and creating long-term goals.
Use Kanban view for – Daily process monitoring, team task planning, and responding to any changes in the market.
Teamhood – to merge the two views
Teamhood allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds – waterfall and Agile. Thus, all of your data is simultaneously available in List, Kanban, and Gantt views. Each team member can freely choose which of these views to use at any point. There is no choice needed to be made between Gantt vs Kanban.
Moreover, each of these views contains extensive task details, allowing you to monitor any of the required information. Task dependencies, duration, assignments, progress, and even custom fields can be added to provide you with everything in one place. And all of the additional information is stored in the task details.
Here is an interactive example to help you get a feel of Teamhood!
Try Teamhood for a free Kanban Gantt chart application
Passionate content marketer looking to bring better solutions to the project management space.
2020 - Present Marketing specialist at Teamhood.
2014 - 2020 Marketing manager for Eylean.