Kanban vs. Gantt chart: what to choose for your project
Nikolina Hodak June 23, 2022
TABLE OF CONTENT
- What is the Kanban board
- Kanban practices
- Elements of Kanban
- Benefits of Kanban
- Physical vs. digital boards
- What is the Gantt chart
- What is the Gantt chart used for
- Elements of Gantt chart
- Benefits of the Gantt chart
- Desktop vs. online chart makers
- What have we learned
You surely already heard of the Kanban boards and Gantt charts. But have you ever wondered what are their main purpose and how can you get the most out of both of them?
According to Parabol, 76% of respondents reported that Kanban was “effective” or “much more effective than” other methods/frameworks that they have used.
As far as Gantt charts are considered, they are still the most preferred format of project management, topping the list at 36% of project managers surveyed (ProjectManager).
In this guide, we will explain what the Kanban board and Gantt chart are, discuss the basics, and mark crucial details you need to understand, especially if you are a beginner.
What is the Kanban board
Let’s review the basics first. Simply put, the Kanban board is a tool for workflow visualization whose goal is to maximize work efficiency.
It helps teams establish order in their daily work. It usually uses columns and cards to help companies commit to the right amount of work.
The concept of Kanban originated in Japan in the 1940s by Toyota. It means “visual sign/card” and its purpose was to help improve manufacturing efficiency and facilitate work processes.
According to Kanbanize, there are 6 core practices of Kanban.
VISUALIZE THE WORKFLOW
To be able to visualize your work process, you will need a board with columns and cards. Every column will then represent a step in your workflow and every card will represent a work item.
Finally, the Kanban board itself represents the actual state of a certain workflow with all its specifications.
LIMIT WORK IN PROGRESS
Within Kanban, you can create cards for tasks so you could see how much work you’re taking on. It will allow you then not to overload yourself (and your team) with tasks.
Such limitations will expose interference in your workflow so it can help you identify and resolve them.
This practice lets you assign tasks to certain team members depending on their availability and expertise.
Given that the Kanban system is all about creating smooth flows, your focus should be on managing and understanding how to accelerate the work through the system.
SET PROCESS POLICIES EXPLICIT
By defining clear guidelines for your processes, teams will then have a better understanding of workflows and their every phase.
Well-defined work policies can help each team member improve self-organization. Make sure everyone understands the common goal.
ALLOW ROOM FOR FEEDBACK
By allowing feedback loops, your team can get a chance to identify a mistake or come up with an improvement idea that another team member may have been unaware of.
It’s essential for companies to be submissive about potential changes and to enable knowledge-sharing between people.
ALWAYS LEAN TOWARDS IMPROVEMENT
Based on feedback and metrics, you should be able to achieve continuous improvements and changes within a company. Create a mindset focused on constant improvement to keep things moving smoothly.
Elements of Kanban
Throughout this chapter, we'll list some of the most important Kanban elements.
Kanban board is usually divided into 3 main phases (Forbes Advisor):
- Requested tasks
- In progress tasks
- Finished tasks.
Depending on the company’s area of expertise and size, there can be custom task status regarding their workflow and various processes.
Kanban cards are used to define crucial information about the tasks such as deadline, description, size, assignees, etc.
They represent diverse work items moving through a Kanban board.
The cards are often different colors to help visualize responsible team members or some other item.
Columns are designed to define a different stage of the workflow. The cards then move through the columns to show at what stage the process is.
Every Kanban board has 3 basic columns: requested, in progress, and finished.
WORK IN PROGRESS LIMITS
Work in progress limits represents limiting the number of tasks your team can work on at the given moment to avoid overloading.
Team members actively work on cards that are in this column and the rest are either completed or waiting to be done.
In that way, each team member can concentrate and work more efficiently.
Benefits of Kanban
You probably already got a gist through this blog post on some benefits of using the Kanban system.
But let us summarize what are some key advantages you’ll be getting when implementing the Kanban board.
Physical vs. digital boards
Today there are two basic types of Kanban boards – physical and digital boards (Kanbanize).
A physical board is a type of Kanban board where team members usually use sticky notes (tasks) and a classic physic board.
Work phases are shown as columns and sticky notes are getting through stages.
A digital board is a software solution, meaning it’s much easier to use than the standard physical board.
You can manage your work processes from anywhere and get a clear visualization of current progress. Some solutions allow team leaders to track multiple workflows and rearrange their work in different categories.
Many companies are today using digital Kanban boards as it’s easier to manage and keep track of various workflows.
What is the Gantt chart
A Gantt chart is a project management tool that provides a visual presentation of project tasks scheduled over time.
On the left side of the Gantt chart, there is a list of the activities and at the top, there is a proper time scale. Every activity is displayed by a bar; the length and position of the bar point out the start date, duration, and end date.
Gantt chart was named after Henry Gantt who popularized this project management chart in the early 20th century.
And if we’re going to talk about numbers…
According to ProjectManager, over 60% of respondents said that they still use a Gantt chart for 50% - 100% of their projects, suggesting that tight scheduling with dependencies and milestones remains critical for project planning.
What is the Gantt chart used for
According to Atlassian, there are three main reasons why teams use Gantt charts.
MANAGE A PROJECT
Gantt charts help organize tasks into smaller, more manageable ones.
Those small tasks are then scheduled on the timeline, along with dependencies between assignees, tasks, and milestones.
DETERMINE LOGISTICS OF A PROJECT
Gantt charts can be set to retain the logistics of a project. Task dependencies ensure that a new task can start only when another is completed.
If a task, in any case, is being delayed, then dependent issues are automatically rescheduled. This can be helpful when multiple teams are working across projects (and often that is the case).
KEEP UP WITH PROJECT PROGRESS
Gantt charts allow you to monitor the progress of your projects and make adjustments when needed. It can include milestones, release dates, and any other crucial metric to track your project’s progress.
Elements of Gantt chart
In the next chapter, we’ll describe three main elements of the Gantt chart (Monday.com)
The duration of each task is often displayed in days/weeks/months, but you can also set it up in minutes or hours.
The current time is usually highlighted and the length of each rectangle shows you how long a task is expected to take (task duration).
In the Gantt chart, there are individual tasks, also known as activities, that are placed at various stages of completion.
On the project task, the team member who is assigned as the responsible person is the person who is currently actively working on the task or is responsible for the ongoing implementation of the activity.
Benefits of the Gantt chart
As well as the Kanban method, the Gantt chart has similar benefits it provides you with.
Desktop vs. online Gantt chart makers
If you’re interested in implementing the Gantt chart method into your business, there are various available software solutions.
It’s hard to manage multiple projects within spreadsheets or desktop Gantt chart makers.
Project management software provides you with easy sharing and collaborative project planning. Given that software solutions are 100% online, you can assign anyone to see the project and even update tasks, comment, or attach documents direct to tasks they’re currently working on.
Another great thing about project management software is the reduced cost, unlike desktop versions. It’s because there are no costly server installations, integrations, or associated license costs for each user (ProjectManager).
What have we learned
And what have we learned throughout this blog?
We can conclude now that Kanban boards can be used for items that don’t have dependencies with each other, whereas Gantt charts are useful when dependencies are the main driver for the schedule.
Also, Kanban boards are more suited for repetitive work (with similar steps), while Gantt charts are suitable for a combination of different types of work (Management Plaza).
By using these tools together, you can see a much more detailed picture of a project and possibly detect some issues along the way. Also, Kanban boards are useful for tracking individual tasks and at the same time, Gantt charts will give you a comprehensive insight into the timescales and progress of the project (Kanbachi).
These two are a clever combination and what’s more important, they are suitable for any type of project and teams of any size!
We’d like to now introduce you to Gauss Box Projects! Among many other features, it has an integrated Kanban board and Gantt chart so you have the possibility of combining each other and getting the maximum out of your project planning. Feel free to contact us anytime!