How To Select the Gantt Chart Tool for Your Construction Project

How To Select the Gantt Chart Tool for Your Construction Project

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Monday, 19 December 2016 04:21

Everyone who has been in Project Management knows the importance of Gantt charts.
The Gantt chart is the only tool capable of representing multiple events on a time scale, with their duration and time relationship. Thanks to today's computing power, Gantt charts are now easy to make and to maintain but, with so many applications available, what should you be looking for? 

For a long time, Microsoft Project has been the Industry standard for Gantt charting. The first commercial version of Project was released in 1984. At the time DOS it was still the state of the art operating system.
It was not until 1995 that the Gantt chart became something similar to the tool we know today... just about 80 years after its invention (Henry Gantt designed his chart in the period between 1910 and 1915).

Today, according to Wikipedia, there are over 150 pieces of software that implement a Gantt chart tool. It is really overwhelming to see the list for the first time.
With so much choice, how can one be sure to pick the tool that does the job effectively and with the most efficiency?

Here is a short list of rules you should follow in order to pick the best Gantt chart tool for your use.
Have a try at this selection process and let us know how it works for you!

leansite free online gantt chart


1. Interactive Chart

With Microsoft Project being a complicated and expensive tool, many try to go the cheap way and they attempt to implement their own (primitive) Gantt chart using the almighty Excel. For reference here is an example of this self-destructing way to proceed.
Gantt charts are all about clarity and increased productivity, so you should avoid at all costs complicating your life for no reason. Forget Excel.

In 2016 your Gantt chart tool must be fully interactive. The first big requirement you should consider is the possibility to click on the chart and to change it on the fly, by drag&drop. With 150 tools available this is the very least you can look for.


2. Cloud based

Gantt charts are also about keeping your Team on the same page. This means that everyone must be able to access (simultaneously) the very same version of the schedule.
This is impossible on all the software that make use of physical files...starting from Excel and including Microsoft Project, which Server support is given only for a premium price and at cost of complex configuration.

Today you want to choose a Cloud-based software (SaaS).
The software you pick must be simple to setup and very straight forward. Rule number (1) still applies... the software must be extensively interactive and allow you to do every operation comfortably from your browser.


3. Industry Specific

Among the SaaS software for Gantt charting, you still have plenty of options.
Make then sure you pick a software that is specific to your industry. This ensures that any added feature (already present or to be added in the future) will serve your purpose.

Avoid generic multipurpose software (Smartsheets, Wrike, ...). They are generally more flexible but it takes longer to configure them and you'll end up anyway using just a few of the many features, while you might miss out on big BONUS features that are specific to your Industry.


4. On the go

Make sure the software you choose gives you the option to work while not in front of the PC.
Today's lifestyle is mobile and, in many situations, you do not sit in front of a PC but you still need to edit and access your Projects.
This is especially important in Construction Industry where most of the work is executed on-site.

Your software of choice must have a mobile application!
NOTE: a mobile browser-based version is NOT enough. The application must be able to work in absence of connectivity. So it must be a stand-alone application that can save all your changes while you are off the grid.


5. Start-End date and progress

Each Task on a Gantt chart comes with a well-defined Start and End date. Some software allows to specify a Start+Duration or End+Duration but, in general, the result does not change. it is entirely up to you and your application which user interface to prefer.
Just make sure the user interface makes sense and it is not overly complicated to change things when you need.

Also, to increase clarity (and the amount of information packed in the same view) your tool must be able to display the progress on each task.


6. Dependencies

This is a no-brainer.
Every respectable Gant chart tool must have task dependencies and automated rescheduling.
DO NOT consider any tool that misses this two features.

NOTE: automatic scheduling must be able to keep the gaps (buffer days) you setup between two tasks. This is very important, otherwise the system will mess up your schedule most of the times and you will end up in a frustrating battle against the application.


7. Keep in mind

Finally, a short list of thing to keep in mind while looking for Gantt chart tool.
It must be able to:

  • provide clarity on the schedule;
  • provide clarity on the current progress;
  • let you modify the schedule quickly, without messing up on Tasks that should not move (i.e. fixed deadlines);
  • be shared with other members of your Team or Project's Stakeholders;
  • save you time and effectively keep you on schedule.

leansite gantt schedule



Make your choice

The choice is huge but it is very important to pick one as quickly as possible and stick to it. The more time you spend on your decision, the more time you are not working effectively on the things that are important for your activity.
Avoid paralysis by analysis... get a feeling of what the tool does, check it against the list above, then go for it.

If you need any help or suggestion, leave us a comment in the comment box below!

Published in Masterplan/

Read 908 times Last modified on Tuesday, 23 May 2017 09:06

Andrea Bronzini

Brilliant and committed professional.
Andrea has been working in construction industry since 2004 and he was certified as Passivhaus Consultant in 2010.
Among other skills, Andrea specialises in Sales and Marketing and collaborates with Leansite in quality of Marketing Consultant.