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The Gantt chart is the most enduring project management tool to help you organize actions in a timely perspective. The following post looks at software and online services to be successful with Gantt charts.
Dear reader, you can talk to me, I hear you.
Gantt charts are to us what canvases are to painters. On Gantt charts, we can unleash our attention to details, our planning mojo, our control freakiness. We see Gantt charts as emotional tools. They can assist us in a comfortable and organized journey to the day of the event. They could also be sadistic tyrants, reminding us how we failed at planning.
Gantt is the topic that stimulates dozens of questions daily to your beloved editor, who has now decided to come clean and answer them all in one gigantic post. Brilliant, let's go:
Gantt Chart Tools for Windows
One of the most adopted project management softwares. It is a fairly in-depth tool and requires some training to fully grasp it. It integrates very well with tools such as Microsoft Office or Microsoft Outlook, therefore a must if you run a Windows based system. Microsoft also features a good deal of templates you could use with it. It comes with a price, therefore I would suggest that you experiment with free tools first before purchasing it, it will help maximizing your investment.
Gantt Chart Tools for Mac
AgileAgenda is quite an interesting project management software. It integrates with the acclaimed Basecamp and it has been developed on Adobe Air. It also interfaces with Google Calendar and iCal to control milestones on your favourite calendar solution. I also liked the sharing capabilities within networks; ideal for communicating bits and pieces with external parties and stakeholders. Priced at $79USD, AgileAgenda looks like a good solution for small businesses.
Update: Sadly, AgileAgenda is no longer available
Merlin 2 is a native Mac application. As you would expect, they master integration with tools such as iPhones or iPads. Also worthy of mention is also the integration with Microsoft Project. That is key when sharing schedules with non-Mac machines (ie clients). A single user license costs $199USD, a bit of an investment I think, but give it a go with their free trial and see if it adds some value to your routine.
Check out Merlin 2
Online Gantt Chart Tools
Ganttic positions itself as a better alternative to Microsoft Project and (gosh) Excel. Well, what does it offer compared to the above? They put up a whole section of the website dedicated to the comparison. If that is not enough to convince you, it comes for free for up to 5 users and 10 resources to be allocated. That should fit most small businesses and independent professionals. Try it!
TeamGantt offers the basic functions of most Gantt tools. It is organized in a nice looking interface and features more intuitive drag & drop scheduling. It does come at a price, though, $10USD/month in its entry offering. The best software is the one that works best for you. Therefore start the free trial and let me know if their interface works for you.
Gantter has its strongest selling point in the seamless Google Docs integration. If your business is powered by Google Apps you may want to opt for Gantter instead of MS Project. They also have a nice Chrome plugin. Despite the basic interface, the service is free of charge. Great to experiment before passing on more complex tools.
I love Liquid Planner. OK, it comes at a price ($24USD per month) but it has some quite geeky features I appreciated. Instant project analysis, iPhone interface and clients portal above all. It also takes care about resource allocation in a wise way, generating detailed reports. This is no tool for the beginner, I would suggest you get confident especially with resource management before investing some money in it.
Windows, Mac or Linux (Cross Platform)
Did anyone say PERT? Trust me you want one of these beautiful charts. Gantt Project automatically generates PERT charts for your convenience. Gantt Project is a free, open-source software that can be used on Mac, Linux or Windows.
This is definitely a tool for geeks. It features scripts and command style inputs to create charts. It is in fact based on Python, a quite popular programming language in the developers' community. For those more technical, I would suggest giving it ago, again it is free of charge.
Check out Gantt PV
Open Proj is to Microsoft Projects what OpenOffice is to Microsoft Office. It is the most successful open source project management software on the market. I've spoken through the years with lots of organizations, especially in education, using it successfully. I also made a template for it.