Data Visualization

Battle of the Charts: Gantt vs. Kanban

Samantha Pratt Lile
 | 
January 28, 2021
 | 
8
 min read
Battle of the Charts: Gantt vs. KanbanBattle of the Charts: Gantt vs. Kanban
"Whatever we do must be in accord with human nature. We cannot drive people; we must direct their development." -Henry Gantt

Our love affair with infographics goes all the way back to the earliest cave paintings, and for good reason. After all, the visual cortex is the largest part of the human brain. Studies even indicate that while the average person remembers just 10 percent of what they see after 72 hours, but when images are added they can recall 65 percent. Thus, people have developed infographics perfect for illustrating practically any type of data.

Schedules and processes are both concepts that are easier to communicate visually, so it only makes sense there would be infographics to display them. Two of the most common ways to illustrate a process are via Gantt charts and Kanban boards.

Just what are Gantt charts and Kanban boards, and when should they be used? What’s the difference between them, and which is better? We delved into these questions and more in our latest Battle of the Charts:

Round 1: Gantt Charts

  • What is a Gantt chart, and how do you use it?

A Gantt chart is a type of infographic used for scheduling that displays the timeline of a project across two axes. The horizontal axis illustrates a project’s schedule, and the vertical one lists each task involved in the project. Each task is then highlighted as a colored bar that aligns with where on the schedule it needs to be completed.

Anyone looking at the Gantt chart can easily see each task and how long it takes, as well as the progress of the overall project as it moves toward the deadline or end date. A Gantt chart accomplishes this by displaying:

o   A project’s start date and finish date

o   Each task involved in the project

o   Who is assigned to each task

o   When each task should start and finish

o   How long each task should take

o   How tasks are dependent upon one another

  • When should you use a Gantt chart?

A Gantt chart should be used to illustrate a project’s schedule when it becomes beneficial to visualize tasks and track their progress across a specified time. The visualization is beneficial for project managers, workers and those outside of a project to quickly scope their progress and understand its status. A Gantt chart also helps project managers set more accurate deadlines by visualizing the schedule and interdependencies of tasks involved.

More specifically, a Gantt chart can be the ideal choice for projects with the following qualities:

o   A hard deadline

o   Multiple people or teams to coordinate

o   People who need to see a visual timeline

o   Tasks that need done in a specific order

o   Tasks that are dependent upon one another for completion

  • What type of content works best for a Gantt chart?

Gantt charts are great for illustrating projects, processes and schedules in a variety of industries, including construction, marketing, design, manufacturing, software development, event planning and so many more. If a project involves a set start and end time, a limited number of tasks and multiple people or teams, then a Gantt chart likely is a good choice for displaying the data.

Round 2: Kanban Boards

  • What is a Kanban chart, and how do you use it?

Kanban is a Japanese word that loosely translates to “sign” or “visual signal.” Like a Gantt chart, a Kanban board is a type of infographic that illustrates a project, its process and involved tasks. A Kanban board, however, focuses on efficiency rather than schedule.

A Kanban board provides a way to manage workflows visually with multiple columns representing each stage of a project. It could be as simple as, “To Do,” “In progress” and “Complete,” or it could break a complex project down into multiple phases. 

Each task involved in the project is placed on a card, and the cards are moved through the process as completed from start to finish. Cards can even be color coded to more quickly reference various teams or individuals assigned to them.

Work-in-progress limits also can be added to columns in order to improve project efficiency. By limiting how many tasks can be placed in each stage at any given time, project managers can avoid overcapacity and concentrate their resources on whatever tasks are more needed at any given time.

  • When should you use a Kanban board?

A Kanban board is a good choice for project managers and teams that need to quickly reference the status of their tasks:

o   What tasks need done

o   What tasks are in progress

o   What tasks are already complete.

A Kanban board also boost efficiencies since team members won’t be waiting around for one task to finish before they can start the next. Instead they can focus on whatever task needs done next to get one step closer to finish, no matter what time they begin.

  • What type of content works best for a Kanban chart?

Projects that involve a great number of tasks are suited for a Kanban board since they can be placed in groups of cards instead of a vertical listing that could grow to encompass several screens of data. Likewise, a Kanban board works well for ongoing projects and processes that don’t rely on a set start or end date.

A Kanban board is also a great option for teams that can benefit from a physical visualization that can be simultaneously seen by all. At the same time, Kanban boards have also been adopted by remote teams because their simplicity helps to ensure everyone is on the same page.

The Verdict

Both Gantt charts and Kanban boards can be extremely useful in illustrating a project, its tasks and its schedule, but both aren’t equally suited for all types of projects.

If your project has a set start and end date and not too many tasks to fit on one or two screen lengths, and if certain tasks can only be completed by specified team members, then a Gantt chart might be ideal to visualize your workflow.

If, however, the project isn’t based on set dates or if it’s ongoing, and if it involves complex steps and a great number of tasks, then it might be better suited to display as a Kanban board.

The good news is both infographic options are available as Beautiful.ai’s smart slide templates. Just enter your data, and let our AI create the perfect chart for your next presentation. 

Beautiful.ai’s Gantt chart template and Kanban chart template are just two among our library of free, easy-to-use smart slide templates. Every presentation slide template is customizable, with endless variety and design options.

Samantha Pratt Lile

Samantha Pratt Lile

Samantha is an independent journalist, editor, blogger and content manager. Examples of her published work can be found at sites including the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, and Buzzfeed.