The Gantt chart is a useful tool for visualizing your progress when planning and managing a project. Some people love them and some people… well, don’t.
The reason is simple. Those that don’t love the Gantt haven’t used an online Gantt chart that actually helps save them time. They’re usually the ones stuck trying to create a custom bar chart in Excel, or their current Gantt Chart software just doesn’t have the features it needs. This can lead people (wrongly) to believe that only specialists and experts are using Gantt charts. That would be a mistake.
All you need to do is find the Gantt chart that is right for you. The following are five features you’re going to want in a Gantt chart so that it simplifies rather than complicates your life.
Drag & Drop
Let’s start with the obvious. You need an online Gantt chart. You need to stop using Excel to manage your projects and find a tool that can make your life so much easier. Now, when you’re looking for an online Gantt chart, you want to get one that is interactive, specifically that allows you to change tasks simply by drag and drop.
Normally, you fill out the tasks in your spreadsheet and the Gantt populates to represent how long that particular task will take to complete. But it would be easier if you could go right onto the Gantt itself to change the date of the task delivery.
You want a Gantt chart with the functionality to drag and drop the task bar to extend or shorten its date. This will allow the data change to populate immediately on your spreadsheet, saving time and maybe even your sanity.
You know the importance of milestones for better scheduling, to break up the project into digestible parts. By setting a few milestones throughout the lifecycle of your project you define key project phases or simply the important dates and deadlines. Usually, in Gantt chart tools, the milestones are represented by a diamond shape.
Diamonds are not only a girl’s best friend, they’re yours as well. You want milestones to be able to see at-a-glance when key parts of your project are coming up. These milestones are helpful not only to give you a clear path through the project, but you can also use them to set up meetings and other planning efforts.
Colors are a great way to represent any number of things, from the person you’ve assigned the task to or to indicate a different phase in the project. Maybe purple is for the QA phase, whereas yellow symbolizes client-focused tasks.
That’s why you’ll want a Gantt chart that has a tool allowing you to customize color. It may even free your creative muse, so have fun with it.
Tasks are not islands. They often are linked to other tasks, in that one cannot be started until the other is completed. Therefore, if the first task that the second is dependent on to start is running behind schedule, it can create a problem.
With an interactive Gantt chart that support task dependencies, though, what was hard becomes a simple and easy function of the software. In short, it automatically adjusts your downstream tasks, so you don’t have to.
It’s vital to manage your task dependencies, to be able to accommodate changes to the downstream and dependent tasks to make certain that one task that is linked to another doesn’t start until that first one is completed. So, you want a Gantt tool that allows you to manage tasks as they begin to increase in complexity.
Here’s where the rubber hits the road. You can’t easily share a spreadsheet without managing changes, and even a Gantt chart that is on someone’s desktop is going to be of little help to the team. That’s why you want a Gantt chart that’s online. But even more so, you want a Gantt that can facilitate collaboration.
The other team members don’t even have to know how to use the Gantt chart. Really.
They can simply update tasks in their task list, add photos, videos, notes or documents, and these attachments are immediately added to the Gantt task. This task-level collaboration keeps your whole team on the same page, or Gantt chart, as the project moves forward.
It’s That’s Easy!
Regardless of what you may have thought of Gantt charts in the past, with the right tools in hand, you’ll see how easy it can be to manage your projects. Especially with the collaborative feature, updating automatically whenever a team member updates a task in their task list, you’re sure to find Gantt charts one of your favorite project management software tools.
If you’re looking for online Gantt chart software with all the features mentioned above and more, then look no further than ProjectManager.com. You can see for yourself by taking a free 30-day trial by clicking the banner below.