Looking to expand your project management tooling beyond the well-known Gantt charts? You are in luck because I have collected and reviewed multiple Gantt chart alternatives that could be used in various situations.
From simple upgrades to tools used by specific methodologies, this list of the best Gantt chart alternatives will surely help you locate the right option for you. Before we dive into each option separately here is a short reminder about the origins of the Gantt chart.
What is a Gantt chart?
A Gantt chart is a bar-type chart used to illustrate project phases and schedules.
The Gantt chart is usually composed of two main sections:
- There is a list of project phases that can be further divided into tasks on the left.
- There is a timeline-type graph that visualizes those phases and tasks based on their schedule on the right.
Depending on the chosen Gantt chart software, you may also be able to draw dependencies, track milestones, establish a baseline as well and perform other task management actions.
Advantages and disadvantages of the Gantt chart
Gantt charts have been amongst some of the most used project management tools for a long time now. And there are good reasons for this.
With Gantt charts, you can easily:
- Visualize and understand project phases
- Understand dependencies
- Track the progress that is being made
- Understand what happens if a particular task or project phase is late
At the same time, the Gantt charts were first introduced over a hundred years ago and the processes we manage right now have changed in their intensity and pace. It has become much more important to be able to quickly react to changes in the market and focus your attention on the tasks that will deliver the most value.
As such, some feel like there are other tools better suited for different aspects of project management efforts. Here is what they say is lacking in Gantt charts:
- Visualization of individual task progress
- Daily effort and issue tracking
- Overseeing the progress of multiple projects to see where to place your attention
Regardless of the mentioned drawbacks, many continue to use Gantt charts for their projects. However, it has become more common to combine this use with the Gantt chart alternatives we will be discussing further.
This allows the user to select which tool is right for their specific situation and continue working with fewer interruptions. Let’s look at those tools next.
Gantt chart alternatives overview
|Visualizing schedules of multiple projects, and understanding their dependencies.
|Visualizing schedules of multiple projects, understanding their dependencies.
|Tracking daily task progress within your team, and identifying bottlenecks.
|Analyzing different task data, prioritizing tasks for planning, or holding a checklist of what should be done.
|Creating a custom view of the data you need to track regularly.
|Checking the status of multiple projects in the most efficient manner.
|Tracking the daily progress of items for the Scrum team.
|Understanding the overall progress and speed of a Scrum team.
|5 Whys Template
|Looking for root causes of complicated problems within a company or your processes.
|Visualizing your ideas and exploring new possibilities before the project begins.
|Visualizing the processes of the selected team/company/product.
The first Gantt chart alternative on this list is also the one closest in form to the original. Timeline is a tool that allows you to visualize your project tasks on a calendar-type view.
Just like with the Gantt chart, here you can easily understand the schedule of project phases and tasks, draw dependencies between them, and mark important milestones.
Unlike Gantt charts, Timeline allows you to visualize several projects at once. Since the visualization of phases/tasks is more simplified, you can easily fit more information into such a view. Thus, it becomes increasingly useful when managing several projects with shared resources.
You can find a further comparison of the two tools below.
2. Kanban board
Talking about Gantt chart alternatives, we must mention Kanban boards. As one of the main reasons for using one often comes from the wish to stop using Gantt.
Kanban is a framework that visualizes your team’s process with the help of statuses on a Kanban board. Then, team tasks are added by using item cards. Once you start working, the progress of each task is tracked by moving it to the appropriate status on the board.
Kanban boards can be used to track and manage larger projects, but they are ideal for focusing on the daily efforts of the team and executing the plans that were set in motion.
3. Task list
Task lists are another Gantt chart alternative, used in those cases when you need to visualize more of the task details.
Here, what you get is initially an expanded left side of the Gantt chart. Listing out projects, their phases, and tasks as well as various chosen details of these items.
Again, depending on the selected tooling, you can add multiple levels of subtasks, add in various values, and sort the items based on them.
Task lists are most commonly used for planning, task prioritization, and tracking of what was accomplished.
Dashboards are a tool that provides us with summarized data on the projects.
Here, you can compile and check various information that is important to track and use it to make further decisions related to your teams efforts.
The beauty of dashboards is that you can shape them in a way that is most beneficial to you and your team. Depending on your chosen solution, you will be able to see:
- Lists of tasks that meet certain criteria
- Add in embeds
Thus creating a space to quickly get the most important data without having to go into each project and analyze the progress separatelly.
Portfolio is a similar tool to the previously discussed dashboards. However, it is more focused on easily tracking the status of multiple projects.
As such, in Portfolio you will usually see a list of projects and be able to analyze data such as – schedule, progress, budget, earned value, and related metrics.
Most project management tools will allow you to manage the portfolio report to some extent. Ensuring you can concentrate on the most important metrics easily.
6. Scrum board
The Scrum board is similar to the previously discussed Kanban boards. As they allow teams to visualize the progress of the Sprint items.
Such Gantt chart alternatives are usually used by Scrum teams and refreshed after each sprint is over.
The first status of the Scrum board holds all the items planned for the current Sprint (iteration). The other statuses reflect the progress of those items.
Ideally, the Scrum teams aim to finish all those items during the Sprint and then hold a new planning session before the next iteration begins. As such, the Scrum board is cleared after each iteration is completed, whereas work in Kanban is continuous.
7. Burndown chart
Talking about Agile Gantt chart alternatives, it is also worth mentioning the Burndown chart.
While the Scrum board helps the team track individual item progress, the Burndown chart visualizes the overall progress and compares it against the ideal trend.
As you can see in the chart above, the team in question has 232 items to complete before the end of September. The diagonal line visualizes the ideal path, and the blue dots map out how many incompleted items remain at each time.
If the blue dots are above the diagonal line, it may indicate the team is behind. Allowing you to investigate what issues they may be facing.
8. 5 Whys chart
The 5 whys chart is a tool used to delve into the issues the company or team is facing and understand their real cause.
For this, the teams can use a 5 whys template like the one visualized above, or create their own set of questions. The important thing is to ensure the same question is repeated 5 times thus having a deep enough discussion to understand the cause and effect of their issues.
If you are after a template, you can download one below.
9. Mind map
A mind map is a tool for those looking to better understand the links between the things they are working on.
As such, it can be used for various things, like creating a communication plan, go-to-market strategy, project schedule, and many others.
This one of the Gantt chart alternatives will allow you to freely explore ideas and goals before setting them into a clear plan with schedules and commitments.
Last but not least on this Gantt chart alternatives list is the Flowchart. it is a tool used to depict the process of the project via using various symbols.
Such tools are especially useful when you need to understand the processes in place and visualize this information for the other team members.
Thus, you will often see Flowcharts being used in software development and related areas of business. However, they can be applied just as successfully to depict a process in sales, engineering, or any other team.
Gantt chart alternatives summary
As you can see, there are various alternatives to choose from when it comes to replacing the Gantt chart. The question is – what do you want to use the alternative for?
- Visualizing daily tasks? Choose Kanban or Scrum boards.
- Tracking multiple projects? Timelines, Dashboards, or Portfolios all could be a great fit.
- Want to understand the process? Check out Mind maps and Flowcharts.
Teamhood – Your Gantt chart alternative
The good news is that multiple of these Gantt chart alternatives are usually available in project management software. And it is just the case with Teamhood, a free project management software that offers:
- Gantt charts
- Kanban and Scrum boards
- Timeline and List view
- Dashboards and Portfolio
The beauty is that you can simply switch between all of these reports depending on the information you need at that moment. Curious how? Get started for free and find out.
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.