Back to all posts
Shannon Toe

Beyond Gantt Charts: 5 Alternatives to Visualize Projects

The good old Gantt charts have their disadvantages. Fortunately, alternatives exist to replace Gantt charts when they're too much.

Gantt chart is possibly the most common way to visualize projects, but it is not always the best choice.

Depending on the nature of your project and how complex you expect it to become, as well as the specific needs of those requiring daily visualization, you may need to consider using an alternative to Gantt charts.

In this article, we're going over the limitations of Gantt charts and the alternatives you should consider to make your project planning easier.

Disadvantages of Gantt charts

Gantt charts have become a staple in a project manager's routine long ago. They are detailed, granular, and highly explanatory. Looking at a Gantt chart, you will be able to see all the relevant project data — roadmap, dates, milestones, tasks, dependencies, people.

However, this also means that in order to achieve this level of granularity, Gantt charts require a lot of maintenance and take a long time to get started with, unless you have software to make it easier.

Here are some of the limitations you need to consider before committing to Gantt charts in your project:

  • Setup and maintenance are time-consuming. If you're dealing with a complex project and a lot of resources that need to support it, your Gantt chart might end up looking like spaghetti. Just imagine this drop-down menu of milestones, tasks, and subtasks with dependencies.
  • Keeping it up-to-date is difficult. Unless you're using a tool that does all the updates in real-time, say, if some dependencies, resources, or priorities change, you will need to do all of those updates manually. With complex projects, this is counterproductive. Besides, you can get blind-sided by a project change that didn't get registered in the chart.
  • Priorities are not obvious. One of the first things you need to always know for successful delivery is priorities. While Gantt charts show you a very detailed breakdown of your project, they won't show your team members what project task to prioritize at a specific point in time.
  • Limited visibility. Although it might sound counterintuitive, Gantt charts can actually limit your visibility into projects. If you choose to take just that one angle, you will have a scarce understanding of the visualized dependencies and a simple bar view of your project.

In resource management, it's always the more the merrier so here are the best Gantt chart alternatives you should try for better project management.

5 Gantt chart alternatives

1. Milestone chart

milestone chart - gantt chart alternative

If you are after something simpler than Gantt charts and don't need as many details to manage projects, milestone charts make a worthy choice.

Unlike Gantt charts, Milestone charts will not give you that granular look into the project, but they will also require a lot less maintenance, and can be created in a few clicks with a good tool at hand. For example, if you want to plan out some roadmap and are primarily looking to build timelines, here you can skip all the add-ons.

As the name suggests, Milestone charts focus on milestones in your project and their relation to the horizontal axis of time. They are also a great visualization for stakeholders who want to understand where and how the project is moving yet don't have the time to get into the detail of a Gantt chart.

2. Rolled-up project planner

project management software with gantt charts and project checklist

A rolled-up Project Planner is like Gantt charts on steroids, yet it is much more user-friendly.

With Runn's Project Planner, for instance, you can see almost all the granular things you would generally expect to get from a Gantt chart, and sometimes even more, like extra information about your resources, their availability, clients, workloads, etc. In fact, it's an all-in-one book for project and resource planning. If you don't need some information, you can close the views you don't need.

Another perk of using this Project Planner is the fact that you can try scenario planning. With this feature, you can predict what is going to happen with the project if you place resource A here and resource B there, for example.

3. Project network diagram

A project network diagram helps you depict your project in the pattern of a web. In this pattern, you use a series of boxes and arrows to depict the sequence and the flow of the project.

It's possible to use this diagram to follow project progress and see when each stage gets completed. This diagram might be a good option if you want to visualize the project to your stakeholders but don't have the time (and need) to create that project granularity.

project network diagram

4. Kanban board

Kanban boards are among the easiest project planning tools to get started with as no matter what tool you use, they should look fairly intuitive. As a rule, your project gets visualized in a series of columns, with each column representing a stage, phase, or time period in the project.

When the project progresses, you can drag and drop each item, usually, your tasks which you assign to specific people, from one column to another, indicating that some piece of work is already "in validation", "under review", or whatever you choose to name your columns.

Same to the project network diagram, Kanban boards will not give you a granular view of your projects.

kanban board

5. Sprint board

Often referred to as Scrum boards, these are good for visualizing short projects or fragments of bigger projects, executed in Sprints (which usually last for 2 weeks).

This board is good if you want to make it easy for people to see where they need to place their focus during the upcoming Sprint and easily track the progress of each task.

Final thoughts

There are lots of alternatives to Gantt charts, and the single goal all of them are after is to make your workflows quicker and easier.

With Runn, you can make your projects as granular and complex as you need them to be, all in a few clicks.

Book a demo today to see how you can streamline your projects!

Enjoy the post? Sign up for the latest strategies, stories and product updates.

You might also like

Try Runn today for free!

Join over 5,000 users worldwide.
Start scheduling in less than 10 minutes.
No credit card needed