Monday, 6 June 2016

Manage your projects including dissertations with Gantter (Gantt chart tool)

With dissertations now on the minds of final year university students I began searching for web for a simple yet effective tool to plan a project. 
I recalled from my university days how useful a Gantt chart was to plan out my dissertation. For those of you who are not familiar with Gantt charts, it is one of the most commonly used in project management as a method of showing activities (tasks or events) displayed against time. Along the left of the chart lists activities associated with the project and along the top the duration for completion of each activity. Each activity is represented by a bar, whilst the position and length of the bar reflects the start date, duration and end date of the activity. The benefit of using a Gant chart allows you to see at a glance:
  • What the various activities are
  • When each activity begins and ends
  • How long each activity is scheduled to last
  • Where activities overlap with other activities, and by how much
  • The start and end date of the whole project

I came across Gantter, which is a free cloud-based project management tool that offers a variety of features including integration with Google.
Gantter offers the similar functions as most popular desktop scheduling applications however with the added advantage of being able to access it from a web browser and storing files online. Microsoft Project users will be pleased to see that projects can easily be migrated to the application as well as being able import existing MS Project files into Gantter.


Registering for an account on Gantter takes a few minutes. Start by navigating to then click on the Start Now green button (situated top right of the page):

You will then be taken to the login page. If you don’t have an existing Google, Facebook or LinkedIn account, click on the New to Gantter? Register now! link on the right hand of the page:
If you have a Google, Facebook or Linked in account the process if even quicker, simply click on the icons at the bottom of the Login button. For example clicking the Google icon will pick up my Gmail account (I am already logged in to my Gmail in a separate tab) and will ask me to confirm (clicking the Allow button) that I am happy to share some of my details for Gantter to create the account:
Managing Your Projects

Once your account is created you will be taken to a blank project page:
Start by naming your project by clicking Untitled (situated in the top left):
Enter a project name, then select a start and end date (deadline) of your project:

If you plan to utilise the whole week then I would suggest that you change the default value for Days in a week from 5 to 7 as well as the number of Days in a month.

You will notice from the main view that there are 5 fields:
Name, Duration, Start, Finish, Predecessors, and Resources:

From the menu above I would recommend that you have
Autosave switched on.

Creating activities is quick and easy, simply provide a name and then complete the timescales and any resources you may require to complete the activity:
Where the tool excels is the option to set the predecessors, i.e. activities that need to be completed before you can begin the activity. Very much like MS Project, Gantter automatically schedules out all of your activities based on what you need to do and when you need to do it leaving you to think about one task at a time. For example, my dissertation cannot start until the project proposal has been completed.

On the left hand side under Tasks icon you will see an option for Resources which allows you to insert additional notes for each task.
As Gantter is solely a web-based tool, projects can be viewed by teams or collaborators in real-time without having to meet physically to get a status update on the project.

Saving your project

Gantter offers a number of ways to save or download your project from Google Drive, PDF or PGN. For MS Project users you will be interested to see that you can either save (offline) the file or export it to MS Project.  


To share your project or add collaborators, click on the Share option from the menu above. You can either obtain a web link to your project which you can share or alternatively you can type in the person’s email in the People field and then specify what level of access you wish to grant them:
If you intend to share the link with others it is recommended that you explore the Advanced option in the Share with others window. This allows you to specify how the project can be accessed using the shareable link:
Final thoughts

Over I would recommend that you give Gantter a try if you are considering carrying out a project or starting a dissertation. Gantter reproduces a lot of Microsoft Project experience in a solely web-based application without the need for any installations of applets or plugins, it offers a simple yet feature packed tool all for FREE.

You can find more in depth video tutorials on how to use Gantter -