Project management as a practice wouldn’t be where it is today without Gantt charts. These visual, horizontal bars make project-related information more appealing and easy to grasp for all stakeholders involved. However, how do you know which one to choose?

To help you, we’ve compiled a list of the best Gantt chart software, including an overview of each tool, screenshots, key takeaways, and a chart (no pun intended) to compare Gantt chart software (cloud-based only). At the end, there’s also a bit of theory on how they evolved.

The best Gantt Chart software you should try

paymo

Gantt Chart in Paymo

Paymo is a solid project management platform that couldn’t be so without a robust Gantt chart module.

Its main advantage lies in the fact that tasks with a start and end date get automatically projected on the timeline. Don’t get me wrong, you can still draw your own task durations; yet this is great automation for those who want to ditch Excel for a simple Gantt chart generator.

From a planning perspective, you can link tasks and milestones with the help of dependencies to see which ones need to finish before others start. There’s also the possibility to account for overlap or delay in the project, something project managers working with cross-functional teams will appreciate.

Speaking of visual indicators, Paymo’s got plenty of them. Past due dates and broken dependencies are signaled in red, while a task’s progress - a.k.a. the tracked time vs. the total hourly budget - is indicated by a darker green color over a lighter one. Or a shaded portion in case the budget has been surpassed.

When it comes to course correction, make adjustments manually, or use the auto-scheduling options. Beware though, there’s no undo button so you better be sure about your changes. Pair this up with the critical path functionality that highlights the shortest road to complete a project, and you’re one step ahead of delivering projects with minimal to no risk.

paymo-critical-path_1

Critical path in Paymo

Key Takeaways

  • Project templates with dependencies
  • Automatic drawing of task durations
  • Daily lead & lag time
  • Auto scheduling function
  • Critical path
  • Export to PDF
  • Portfolio Gantt chart

Pricing

  • Free - 10 user (no Gantt chart)
  • Small Office - $11.95/user/month (no Gantt chart)
  • Business - $18.95/user/month

2. TeamGantt

team-gantt

Gantt Chart in TeamGantt

TeamGantt is on a mission to replace desktop-based Gantt charts with a clean and collaborative experience.

Because of this, the interface is quite easy to grasp. You can draw task groups, tasks, and milestones on the timeline with a click and drag action. Even turn a task into a group of tasks or milestones, in case you want to change its scope. Color coding is included as well.

The way you set up dependencies is the same as with any Gantt chart timeline software. Too bad that you can’t edit or remove a dependency once you click on it, you’ll have to open the task details in order to do that. The absence of lead and lag time, as well as the critical path, is a pity too.

Want to read more about lead and lag time? Check this article.

Like Paymo, TeamGantt allows you to set an estimated time budget for a task and track time against it. There’s also a % complete field to signal the task progress, which is independent of the hours tracking mentioned initially. I find this a bit odd, but in some industries, the task progress is not directly related to the tracked time (like agile software development).

Where this Gantt chart drawing software stands out though is the baseline feature. This basically allows you to take a snapshot of the current planning and compare it with the actual progress at different points in time. Meaning you can correctly identify when and where did the project go sideways and by which margin.

Another great feature is the guest user access. People outside your company can view projects and comment on tasks, or just view them if you share a view-only project URL. As a last resort, there’s also the possibility to print the Gantt chart as a PDF.

In terms of the Portfolio Gantt chart, there’s not too much to say about it. You can either toggle between the people or timeline view, with the last one displaying only the projects’ timeline - no more additional details. So I would rather call it a simplified grid view, than a portfolio one.

Key Takeaways

  • Project templates with dependencies
  • Convert tasks to task groups & milestones
  • Percentage complete progress
  • Estimated hourly budgets
  • Baselining
  • Guest user access
  • Export to PDF

Pricing

  • Free - 3 users, 1 project
  • Standard - $24.95/user/month
  • Advanced - $29.95/user/month
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3. GanttPRO

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Gantt Chart in GanttPRO

An online Gantt chart maker that’s gradually expanding into the project management software realm is GanttPRO.

And you can tell. The moment you create a project, you can import it from a CSV or JIRA to make the process much more straightforward. Even define the working days & hours, which will play a role later on when you want to adjust the project schedule.

Speaking of structure, projects are formed of subprojects (read task lists), sibling tasks (read tasks), and milestones. Each of them has a start and end date, hourly estimate, status, and priority. All dependencies are covered, including lead and lag times. However, this is only possible at an hourly level; wish there was a daily auto-scheduling option too, like in Paymo.

Baselines are an integral part of GanttPRO and I dare to say are much more intuitive than in TeamGantt from a UX, not necessarily a UI perspective. Adjustments can be automated based on the task durations and project working days, while the critical path will point you towards the shortest project path.

Want to read more about the role of critical path in a Gantt Chart? Check this article.

You can also manually set a % of task completion, a measure that is still not anchored in the actual task hourly budget. GanttPRO addresses this problem through precise cost tracking and budget reports. These show you the total cost of a task (based on the assigned user’s hourly rate or the task’s fixed price) compared to the actual cost (based on the current tracked time), so you can realistically monitor the budget variance.

Sharing-wise, this Gantt chart software allows you to set a secret link to share it with people outside of your team. Or export it as a PDF, PNG, Excel, or CSV file for convenience. If you want to invite stakeholders in, you can add them as a virtual resource with viewing access only.

Creating a Portfolio Gantt Chart is also intuitive, you just need to have more than 1 project and select the ones which you want to be included. This means you can have more than one portfolio, something PMO’s will appreciate. Too bad you can’t unfold each project level by level, GanttPRO redirects you to each project if you want to access these details.

Key Takeaways

  • Project templates with dependencies
  • Hourly lead & lag time
  • Critical path
  • Baselining
  • Cost budget tracking
  • Export to PDF
  • Portfolio Gantt chart

Pricing

  • Individual - $15/user/month for 1 user, billed annually
  • Team - $8.9/user/month for 5 users, billed annually
  • Enterprise - Custom
insta-gantt

Gantt Chart in InstaGantt

Instagantt was initially built as an extension for Asana, but now that the latter has a timeline view as well, they’ve decided to roll out a more complex version of their own software.

From the get-go, you can create as many “workbooks”, a.k.a. workspaces, where your projects and resources will reside; really useful in case you have separate teams. Tasks include the usual details: assignees, due dates, estimated hours, completion percentage. And also a completion risk field that goes from 1 to 5 (1 - lowest risk; 5 - highest risk). In the end, the task list will also get a completion risk grade, based on the weighted average of its children tasks.

I also like the fact that you can mark a task as a holiday with a different color on the timeline, in case you don’t already use a resource management tool. Tasks are by default sorted by date, but you can also manually reorder them or use the critical path function to highlight the most crucial ones.

Surprisingly, InstaGantt comes with an undo function, which allows you to restore past versions of the timeline by a certain number of actions. This means there’s a baselining feature already available. Plus a really neat button called “Changes since you’ve been gone”, that signals all updates since your last visit.

In terms of navigation, project managers can hover over a minimap instead of using the vertical and horizontal scrolls to reach the preferred area inside the Gantt chart. They can also view a project’s health by resorting to the visual dashboards that compare the planned budgeted hours and costs against the actual ones. Too bad you can’t add the actual work hours via a stopwatch, like with all the previous top Gantt chart tools.

When done planning your chart, take a public snapshot of it to be further shared with a client in view mode only. Or export it as a PDF, PNG, or CSV.

Finally, the Portfolio Gantt chart presents itself as quite clunky at the beginning. Luckily, there’s a collapse/expand feature that allows you to unfold or restore all sublevels at once, for all projects.

Key Takeaways

  • Project templates with dependencies
  • Task risk completion field
  • Critical path
  • Baselining
  • Undo functionality
  • Export to PDF
  • Portfolio Gantt chart

Pricing

  • Single - $7/user/month
  • Team - $5/user/month
wrike

Gantt Chart in Wrike

If you’re looking for a project management app with a Gantt chart, then Wrike might be a fit.

For a simplified experience, the tool lets you import timelines along with their assignees, durations, and dependencies directly from Excel and Microsoft Projects (in case you’re still using them).

Drawing tasks is automated as well, just like in Paymo. All you have to do is set start and end dates for each task and the Gantt software will do its job. Still, there’s not too much of a structure, in the sense that there are no task lists or task groupings, so you can’t plan lengthy deliverables under a common umbrella. At least subtasks get displayed, so this might be a fix.

From a visual perspective, tasks take the color of their corresponding task status. Just be sure to mark the “All Tasks” filter, otherwise, you won’t be able to see those who’re completed or on hold. There’s also a toggler right above the chart’s fold to highlight all the overdue tasks.

The dependencies are the 4 classical ones, with no possibility to add lead and lag time. While the auto-scheduling is not automatic, which means you’ll have to manually do the changes yourself, even with dependencies in place. Two big bummers if you ask me.

Wrike does come with a critical path and baselining feature called “Snapshots”, so you can oversee the project’s evolution over time. As well as a history and undo function for proper change tracking.

Speaking of tracking, there’s no progress monitoring in terms of a completion percentage, nor budget cost comparison, unless you add these as filterable custom fields. This might turn you into a mechanical turk, but at least you can account for parameters that are not included by default in a Gantt chart creator.

I was a bit disappointed to see that there’s no PDF export, only CSV, perhaps due to Wrike’s corporate orientation. Nor a Portfolio Gantt chart, although you can group projects under a common space, with the project names - only names - one after each other.

Key Takeaways

  • Project templates with dependencies
  • Automatic drawing of task durations
  • Critical path
  • Baselining
  • Custom fields
  • Undo functionality
  • Export to CSV

Pricing

  • Free - Free up to 5 users (no Gantt chart)
  • Professional - $9.80/user/month, 5-10-15 users
  • Business - $24.80/user/month, from 5-200 users
  • Enterprise - Custom
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toggl-plan

Project plan in Toggl Plan

A simple planning software, although I’m not even sure I should call it like that, is Toggl Plan.

The design is pretty colorful, making scheduling a breeze. You first need to define project segments on the left column (read task lists or groupings), then draw your tasks with a drag and drop action under each segment.

The reason why I said that I can’t really call this a proper Gantt chart tool is because it doesn’t have dependencies. Hence project managers might have difficulty in knowing how tasks should unfold. Milestones still exist, on top of the project timeline, and can even be turned into holidays for the whole team. So at least we have that.

Toggl Plan allows you to also set an estimated duration for each task, as well as the start and end hours for them. This makes it great for workload management, as you can visualize each person’s workload on a daily basis. Unfortunately, there’s no time tracking function, which forces you to consider estimated hours as the actual work hours. This might be solved by Toggl Track, their time tracking solution, but I couldn’t figure out this combo during the trial.

Another cool feature is the Icebox, which acts as a backlog of tasks, ready to be dragged on the timeline. The timeline comprises weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly views to toggle between when you need to go from a micro to macro point of view.

Sharing wise, you can create a public shareable link for each project and decide whether to make milestones visible or not. Unfortunately, there’s no Portfolio Gantt chart available, even though all projects reside literally on the left column under the Plans tab. This again misses the mark for a stacked Gantt chart software.

Key Takeaways

  • Start and end hours for tasks
  • Workload management
  • Holiday leaves
  • Different zoom levels
  • Public shareable link
  • No export available

Pricing

  • Free - Up to 5 users
  • Premium - $9/user/month
agantty

Gantt Chart in Agantty

Agantty is a free Gantt chart maker that benefits from open-source software, and you can tell.

At a first look, the interface looks clean but lacks a few UX functionalities that you might be used to in other Gantt chart tools. For example, you can’t drag and drop a task’s duration once you’ve created it. By the same token, milestones are not represented by the classical diamond-shaped figure, but as a dent in the project; which means you can’t set dependencies between a task and a milestone. And there are no task lists or groupings.

Other than this, you can shift the entire project timeline by dragging its duration. There’s no critical path though, yet you can still sort tasks in their chronological order, status (completed or not), and assigned users.

The task details are the basic ones: assignees, start and end dates, hourly budgets, and dependencies. Time tracking would be a great addition to compare the planned vs actual worked time, a feature that the Agantty team has promised to launch in late Q4 of 2021 (perhaps as a paid add-on).

Strict data security is this Gantt diagram generator’s forte. All data is located on servers that reside in Germany and abide by the German data protection regulations (BDSG). They also employ automated patch management with regular backups and have a ISO 27001 certification.

Coming back to the Gantt chart features, you can invite as many team members and guest users as you’d like to view the project schedule. When it comes to exporting, apart from the Excel and XML formats, you can also do it in a G Calendar, iCal, or Outlook calendar link. Something I didn’t see at all Gantt chart tools tested so far.

The Portfolio Gantt chart is by default always open, as all projects reside on a left sided menu. With a keyboard shortcut [Alt + T], you can unfold all task wrappers to view the information in a more granular way. Or use the filters to display only the projects that you’re interested in.

An iOS and Android app is also available, so you could say the impossible has been made possible, given how hard it is to read a Gantt chart on a 5.5 inch smartphone screen. Overall, this together with the free plan can compensate for the lack of vital Gantt chart features.

Key Takeaways

  • Free forever
  • Extend project and task durations
  • Unlimited teams and guest users
  • Enhanced data security
  • Export to G Cal, iCal, Outlook Cal
  • Portfolio Gantt chart
  • Mobile app for iOS and Android

Pricing

  • Free

Top Gantt chart software comparison chart

After so many reviews, you may ask yourself what’s the best Gantt chart software after all? As you’ve probably noticed, we’ve exclusively focused on Gantt chart software features, completely ignoring workload management which is a resource scheduling software feature (even though most of the apps reviewed have it).

So without further ado, here’s the comparison chart to help you out:

paymo-scheduler

Top 7 Gantt Chart Software for 2021

What is a Gantt chart?

A Gantt chart is a visual representation of a project’s tasks over time.

Like any chart, it’s composed of an X and Y-axis. With the tasks on the vertical axis and the timeline on the horizontal one, task durations get displayed as bars at the intersection of these two.

gantt-explained

What is a Gantt Chart

This makes it a useful tool to plan tasks in advance along with their start and end dates, identify who’s responsible for them, and have the project delivery date in close sight.

But wait, this is not all. An interactive Gantt chart will also tell you how tasks relate to each other, what’s the project’s critical path, and also the project’s progress in terms of planned vs. actual work. More on this later.

For now, let’s see how Gantt charts have evolved over time.

A brief history of Gantt charts

Contrary to the popular belief, the first tool of this kind was invented in 1896 by Karol Adamiecki, a Polish economist, engineer, and management researcher. He called this project management diagram a “harmonogram” to illustrate the production of steel more visually.

Unfortunately, he published his discoveries in Polish and Russian which limited both its adoption and recognition.

Fast forward to 1910, Henry Gantt, an American engineer, and management consultant came up with the same idea in the form of a bar chart. The application was more or less the same: to help supervisors in steel mills schedule production in advance.

However, the tool picked up popularity when the U.S. army hired Gantt in 1917 to logistically prepare the U.S. for World War I. By the end of the war, the bar chart spread throughout the whole military, including the aircraft and ship production. Hence the name “Gantt chart”.

Making a Gantt chart though was no easy feat. They were hand-drawn and required revisions every time the project schedule changed. As well as formal project management training in the areas of task estimation, critical path analysis, and baselining; which made it available only to a few select hands, like engineers or architects in the construction industry.

Its mass adoption only became possible in the ‘80s with the introduction of personal computers. In the beginning, project managers used desktop tools such as Microsoft Projects or Excel to draw diagrams never to be updated again (some still do). Thanks to the Internet, Gantt charts have finally moved into the cloud, allowing teams to collaborate on a shared project schedule.

Criteria for choosing Gantt chart software

Gantt chart software has evolved from colored spreadsheets to include lots of bells and whistles, which we’ll delve into in a few lines.

Yet, it’s never a good idea to buy a designated tool only for this purpose. Most task management and project management tools these days include a Gantt chart view, so be on the lookout for one that has the following Gantt features:

  • Milestones: Can I be aware of important project events at a glance? Usually, milestones don’t have a duration and mark the end of an important deliverable or project phase. You will spot them as a diamond shape throughout the timeline chart.
  • Dependencies: Can I understand how tasks relate to each other? Dependencies represent links between tasks, signaled by lines and arrows to point out the relationship between them. There are 4 types of dependencies: finish-to-start (FS), finish-to-finish (FF), start-to-finish (SF), start-to-start (SS). Learn more about them here.
  • Auto-scheduling: Does the Gantt chart software adjust the project plan based on the existing dependencies? Ideally, you want a Gantt chart creator that accounts for lead and lag time so you know if there are any intentional delays or overalls between tasks. Learn more about them here.
  • Critical path: Can I spot the most critical tasks? The critical path denotes the longest sequence of tasks that must be completed for the successful delivery of the project. This allows you to properly estimate how long the project will take and where to focus your team’s efforts, without wasting too much time on auxiliary activities.
  • Project and task progress: Can I compare the planned vs. actual work hours? This means you should be able to set a number of estimated hourly budgets at a project and task level, so you can follow their progress. Gantt chart tools do this in different ways, either as certain color shades on the task durations or a completion percentage on top.
  • Export option: Can I export the project schedule and share it with my team and clients? A picture is worth 1000 words for a reason. While not all Gantt charts need to be printed, look for a Gantt chart program that compresses the timeline before exporting it to an image or PDF format. So even lengthy projects can fit in.

Why are Gantt charts important?

When was the last time you heard someone say they love creating “beautiful Gantt charts”? Yes, same here. Despite the transition from paper to online, the debate whether to use or not use them is hot even today.

So rather than projecting our own views (we are pro Gantt charts, btw), we’ll lay out the advantages and disadvantages for you to judge.

Gantt Chart Advantages

  • Visual representation of the project: - This is straightforward. It’s much easier to follow a project’s milestones and deliverables in a visual format, as opposed to a list of tasks.
  • Simple progress monitoring: - On a timeline, the status and progress of each task become more clear, which makes it simple to compare the actual vs planned work. Bonus: everyone is held accountable for their contributions.
  • Real-time adjustments: - Tasks with past due dates and broken dependencies are easy to spot, begging for immediate adjustments that would otherwise be delayed. And dare to say too late for a proper correction of the project plan.

Gantt Chart Disadvantages

  • Not fit for very complex projects: - Having too many dependencies can spell chaos and limit your capacity to go on with your daily routine. It also defeats the Gantt chart’s initial purpose: visualization.
  • Horizontal scroll: - A project that spans several months and years can’t fit on a normal screen. Even though it might not be loaded with too many tasks, the Gantt chart gets out of hand from a technical standpoint.
  • Hard to print them: - This goes hand in hand with the previous example. For lengthy projects, you’ll often end up printing a Gantt chart on several pages, or compress the timeline to such a degree that task names will become barely visible.

Gantt Chart Alternatives

As visual as it gets, Gantt charts might not be the first choice for many teams. However, there are other project management tools that share a few similarities with them but serve different use cases. They are the following:

PERT chart

Like the Gantt chart, a PERT (Program Evaluation Review Technique) chart signals the relationships between tasks. But this time tasks don’t show up as horizontal bars, but as nodes within a network diagram. The goal here is to calculate the weighted average duration of a task rather than its actual duration, in order to determine an optimistic and pessimistic project schedule.

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PERT Chart

Kanban boards

Kanban boards are virtual boards that make it easy to follow the status of a task, a.k.a. how it progresses throughout the project. They usually consist of 3 columns - To Do, In Progress, Complete - where tasks get dragged from column to column depending on their status. This way, project managers can spot bottlenecks early on and keep processes in constant check.

Kanban Paymo

Kanban Board in Paymo

NOTE: In Paymo, Kanban boards are fully customizable, which means you can add, rename, and color code as many columns as your workflow has. Try them out!

Calendars

A common task calendar for the whole team is another visual way to be aware of when tasks should start and end. Like in a Gantt chart, tasks get displayed as horizontal bars on a calendar, but without dependencies. So unless your primary focus is to follow their chronological order, calendars might be a better suite for your daily operations.

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Calendar View in Paymo