step 10

The Best Gantt Chart Software

Whether you’re planning an event, creating a strategy for a project or creating a site audit and plan, a Gantt chart is one of the most useful project management tools you can apply.

The next stage from a to-do list, a Gantt chart allows us to clearly see what tasks we have to complete and the exact timing of each task, so you can visually see the order of events. Having one in place can remove the confusion about which task takes priority and which needs completion by a set date.

There are a number of ways which you can setup a Gantt chart, while there is also a large amount of software, both free and paid, which you can test out. Before going any further, I will detail exactly how I build a Gantt chart, created in Microsoft Excel.

Excel – How To Make A Gantt Chart

The first task you need to do is to list all the jobs that have to be completed within the project. You want to make sure this is 100% complete before taking a step forward, as sometimes it can be a bit messy when adjusting a Gantt chart.
Once you have your complete list, sort them in excel into the order they should be taken, from start to end. If a task will take longer than the job below, don’t worry, just focus on the order which they should be started.

You then need to include separate columns on the start date, duration and deadline for completion. Fill in these details for each task, just like below:

Step 1

The next step is to transform your table into a bar chart. Along the top screen on Excel, click on ‘insert’ and then click on the bar chart icon, like the image below:

Step 2

You need to select the middle flat one (2D). You should then see a blank chart open up. You should then right click on the empty chart and then click on ‘select data’.

step 3

When ‘select data source’ loads up, you need to input the data. On the left hand side you have ‘legend entries’, you need to click on ‘add’ which will take you to the edit series box.

step 4

Under ‘series name’, you need to click and then click on the table header titled ‘start date’. This should add a bit of formula to the ‘edit series’ box.

step 5

Under ‘series value’, you should have ={1}, you actually need to click on the button to the right. This will open up a separate box. You then need to click on the first start date and then drag down with your mouse till you reach the final start date and then let go. This will select all the dates.

step 6

You then need to click on the button on the right of the ‘edit series’. Your chart should then update, so you can see all of the different bars. As you return to the earlier view, click ok.

You now need move onto the duration column, using almost the exact same procedure as you have just completed. Right click on the chart, select data, add on legend entries, then click on the empty series name. Then like before, you need to drag down on the column. Once you have pressed ok and exited the series editor, your chart should have orange bars to the left of the existing bars.

step 7

Now, head back onto the ‘select data source’ screen. On the right hand side you have the ‘horizontal category axis labels’, these are currently in a number format, which doesn’t detail the actual task. Press edit, then drag over the list of tasks from your table. Be careful, don’t include the column header.

It is starting to take shape, but we are still some way off. Firstly, you might have noticed that all of your tasks are back to front, with the final task at the top. This is one of those odd things in Excel that we work around. On your chart, you need to right click on your task list and then click on ‘format axis’.

step 8

Once you’ve pressed format axis, a panel should be loaded up. On this panel, you need to look for ‘categories in reverse order’. Tick this box and all the task will swap the order they are in.

I then like to stretch out the length of my chart, so the dates aren’t so squashed, as you can see above. The length is completely down to you and what looks easier to read.

Now, I know a lot of you are looking at the chart and are wondering why we have the blue bar. This is the time to delete this section. Right click on one of the blue bars and then press ‘format data series’.

Click on fill and then select no-fill. You will still have a border, so click on border colour and then select no-line.

It is starting to look good now, right? One issue which you have no doubt noticed is that there is a fair amount of white space at the start, which isn’t needed. To remove this area, head over to the table and then click on the first date under ‘start date’. Right click, then select ‘format cells’, then ‘general’. You will see a number come up, you need to write down this number and then exit out of this screen. Remember, don’t press ok, press cancel as you don’t want it to change the date, you just needed to learn what the number was.

step 9

On the chart, you need to click on the dates along the top and then right and select format axis. You will see a panel come up with a number of options, look for the minimum bound and then input the number you previously saw. This will change the start date on the chart.

Beyond this, you might also want to experiment with the Major Unit, as different amounts of time can work for different project lengths. Normally people recommend setting it to 2, but this makes the dates quite unclear for me, so I prefer 5, however this will be dependent on your data and the formatting used for illustrating dates.

Well, you know have a Gantt Chart! But it could still look a bit nicer, so here are some ways to enhance the beauty and clarity of your chart. Click on the first orange bar, right click and then select format data series. You then need to change series overlap to 100% and gap width to 0%. Obviously, this is based on personal preference, so it is another area you can muck around on, but I like no gaps between, so you can see the smooth transition from one task to another.

step 10

Well there we go, my complete walkthrough on how to build a Gantt chart. However many people prefer it to look a lot more presentable, so rather than going into deeper levels of design, I will highlight some great software you can try out below.

 

Gantt Project

This is a free tool, which you download and has further functionality such as with arrows. You don’t need any licencing for use, making it a great option on a tight budget, while it also works very well for creating hierarchical structure to your tasks. It isn’t always the most straight forward piece of software though, so it has received mixed responses from users.

Website: http://www.ganttproject.biz/

Team Gantt

This software is much more presentable, making it a much better option for people who want to impress clients or top figures. I also found the functionality to be relatively simple to get my head around. You can take a trial for free, however the actual costs if you were to sign up aren’t the cheapest. The most basic option is $29 per month, which will allow up to 10 projects at once.

Website: https://teamgantt.com

Smart Sheet

This option almost mirrors Microsoft Excel, but with more optimised functionality specifically for Gantt charts. You can also attach notes and messages to each task, which I quite like. This one was quite confusing when first giving it a try, so it would require a decent amount of ‘learning time’ just to get your head around it. The fact that it is drag and drop is great for many who seek this style of use, while being able to import and export from google spreadsheets is a great touch.

Website: https://www.smartsheet.com/gantt-chart-software

 

Ganttic

While this tool has many different pricing options, they also allow for free use on up to 10 different resources. I haven’t tried this one yet, but a colleague highly recommended this tool, so if you have any comments on it, please do let me know.

Website: http://www.ganttic.com/

Published by

Tom Bourlet

Tom Bourlet is the Senior Digital Marketing Executive for Eventa. Event management has always been a popular topic for Tom, having run a number of events throughout his working career, as well as speaking at conferences a vast number of times.

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