Best 5 Free Gantt Chart Templates for PowerPoint

The fastest way to create a Gantt chart and visualize project plans and progress is to use a pre-designed Gantt chart template. Period.

Whenever I have to quickly generate a Gantt chart in PowerPoint for a project review or another upcoming executive meeting, I feel more relaxed knowing that I can count on a ready-made template with editable graphics to help me deliver powerful presentations every time.

And the best news is that since these templates are designed directly in PowerPoint, which most professionals already use, it’s super easy to get my team members to collaborate on my project visuals.


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Top 5 free Gantt chart templates for your next presentation

Here are 5 free Gantt chart templates you can effortlessly customize for your projects:

  1. PowerPoint Gantt chart template
  2. Basic Gantt chart template
  3. Project outline template
  4. Project status report template
  5. Project management plan template

1. PowerPoint Gantt Chart Template

A simple yet powerful template every project manager should have in their management tool kit. This PowerPoint Gantt chart template offers you full customization of colors, fonts, shapes, and designs so that you can make it the perfect match for your projects.


PowerPoint Gantt chart template

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2. Basic Gantt Chart Template

Get a Gantt chart template that includes all the essential elements you need when planning and communicating a project at a high level so that non-project people can quickly check if things are on the right track.


Basic Gantt chart template

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3. Project Outline Template

This template breaks your project down into main stages, steps, and milestones, providing you with a detailed visual sketch to serve as the basis of your strategy. In just a few clicks, you get an easy-to-follow overview of your project that ensures all stakeholders are on the same page.


Project outline template

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4. Project Status Report Template

Summarize the project progress at a glance with this project status report template that lets you keep team members, executives, and clients updated on critical tasks and project milestones.


Project status report template

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5. Project Management Plan Template

Optimize your stakeholder communication strategy with project management plan visuals that help you make things clear for everyone involved. This Gantt chart template enables you to lay out your project plan and monitor progress while presenting only the information that’s relevant for clients and executives.


Project management plan template

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Stunning PowerPoint presentations with little effort

One thing I’ve learned over the years while preparing hundreds of presentations for executives and clients is that Gantt chart templates are a project manager’s best friend.

Using ready-made templates lets you cut your learning curve while enabling you to create eye-catching project visuals in just a couple of minutes. Plus, you get no more death stares from your audience when getting to that Gantt chart slide.

Office Timeline was designed to help professionals like you and me effortlessly create roadmaps, timelines, and Gantt charts in PowerPoint and communicate complex project information in the best way possible. To edit the PowerPoint templates presented above, simply go and install the Office Timeline Pro+ 14-day trial version.

Check out Office Timeline’s entire collection of free Gantt chart templates and pick your favorite.


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Guest post: Why stakeholders regularly ignore your project reports – and how to fix that

by Peter Taylor

The #1 way to improve the success probability of your project is to nail stakeholder buy-in - but how do you do that? The #1 way to nail stakeholder buy-in is to give them uncomplicated visual project updates so they actually understand your project – but how do you do that?

Project Gantt chart

To effectively communicate something requires all four of the following to be correct, providing the right information, providing it to the right person, delivering it in the right way, and delivering it at the right time.

Get any of these wrong, and you will fail to effectively communicate. For example, deliver the right information to the right person, in the right way but at the wrong time, then you have failed to effectively communicate. Or deliver the right information in the right way, and at the right time but to the wrong person, then once again you will have failed to effectively communicate.

I was taught a truth in my early project management days – reporting is not communicating! The fact that the critical facts and important truths are buried somewhere in a report that the right people may be in possession of does not, in any way, mean that they have received the message.

This is a harsh reality all of your busy, busy project managers out there. The fact you can produce the most wonderful 16-page report with graphs and diagrams and every single data point included, designed with beautiful font layouts, a rainbow of colours, and high-definition images, and you email it every single stakeholder (and their best friend) actually means you have probably effectively communicated to absolutely nobody!

Why? Because you have failed to deliver the right information, to the right person, in the right way, and at the right time.

The Project Reporting Challenge

When I was leading some very substantial PMOs, global in nature, hundreds of project managers around the world, leading thousands of projects on an annual basis, we had this fundamental issue of effectively communicating to a whole range of stakeholders but particularly to the executives inside the organisation. All of my project managers were incredibly busy and yet they all had the challenge of how to represent the key aspects of their projects to the business executives, who in turn were busy people who did not have a lot of time and who were overseeing many, many projects at any given time.

Every project manager was being asked to share information with people internally, people externally, clients, sponsors, internal executives, and, of course, the PMO on a regular basis. The risk was that the project managers could so easily have been consumed by regular and disparate reporting demands and had no time to actually manage their projects.

The key here was to both make sure that the project manager did not waste their time and the executives (and other report consumers) received accurate, up-to-date information that they could act on.

We learned that this could be achieved by visually representing the information in the simplest way possible, and in a consistent format for easy reference and understanding. Most often this format was PowerPoint. Our stakeholders were familiar with PowerPoint, comfortable receiving reports this way and very often they wanted to roll-up our project slides into the information they presented to their executives.

Now, on a day-to-day basis, the project managers were typically working with something like Microsoft Project, so they had a detailed project plan but the executives neither had the time nor the inclination (or often the understanding) to look at such a plan, such detail. The reports were complicated, did not get read, or worse led conversations down a rabbit hole.

What we needed was a more simplified timeline and a much-simplified visualisation of where the project was, what was the progress, what were the challenges, what were the issues, what were the constraints, and therefore, what were the decisions that these executives had to make to support the project managers in being successful. And we needed it in PowerPoint.

Strategic Roadmap

The Picture Superiority Effect

There is a thing called the ‘Picture Superiority Effect’, something that I use regularly in my own lectures and keynotes. Simply put, picture superiority refers to the phenomenon where people remember pictures better than they remember the corresponding words. Put in another way, pictures are superior to words when it comes to recalling and recognising information…they get more attention than text or lists.

Picture superiority effect

Taking this knowledge and acting on the principle in regard to project reporting means that you need to represent your project timeline in a clear, simple, and compelling visual in order to get the attention and understanding of your executives, and other stakeholders.

We learned that it is all about delivering the right information, at the right time, to the right person and in the right way. In this case, the right way is a visual way.

Which brings us back to my opening arguments: It is all about improving the success probability of your project by nailing that stakeholder buy-in, and my advice is to give them uncomplicated visual project updates, so they actually understand your project.

How We Added Picture Superiority to Project Reporting

One solution my team found useful is the Office Timeline add-in for PowerPoint. My project managers found it valuable for quickly creating project slides that our VPs and executives loved. The visuals were uncomplicated and impressive and the automation saved our PM’s lots of time.

In fact, originally it was one of my project managers who started using the tool and shared their positives experiences with the rest of their colleagues, and myself, to the point that we standardised on it for executive reporting.

Try out Office Timeline to improve project planning and communication with clear, convincing timelines, Gantt charts and swimlane diagrams that are easy to follow, but hard to forget.


Peter Taylor
Speaker, Consultant, Trainer and Coach, Peter Taylor is the author of the number 1 bestselling project management book ‘The Lazy Project Manager’. He has built and led some of the largest PMOs in the world with organisations such as Siemens, IBM, and Kronos. In 2020 he was awarded the PMO Global Alliance ‘PMO Influencer of the Year Award’.







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Project Management conferences to look out for in 2021


Best Project Management Conferences in 2021

Like pretty much everything else since the Coronavirus pandemic, project management conferences have been surrounded by uncertainty too. Many live events this year were postponed, some were cancelled, while others have moved online. However, we do have exciting PM conferences to look forward to in 2021, and we’ll tell you what we know about them so far.

We’ve compiled a timeline of major 2021 Project Management conferences that have been announced to date, along with a list of details to help you decide which events would suit you best.

Project Management Conferences 2021 – The Timeline

The Project Management Conferences 2021 timeline can help you get a quick overview of the top events of the year, when they’re scheduled, and where they will take place. The visual was created with the Office Timeline Pro add-in for PowerPoint and is free to copy, edit and share. Click the image to expand it or download the timeline as an editable PowerPoint slide and use it to plan ahead.

Top project management conferences 2021

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We will update the timeline periodically as more conferences are announced or if the dates and locations change because of the pandemic.


Project Management Conferences 2021 – The When, Where & Why


Now let’s dive into the details of the PM events you might want to attend in 2021.


ProjectSummit Business Analyst World (PMBA)

Where and when: Orlando, FL, US, Spring (Date TBA) | Washington, DC, US, May 3 – May 5 | Toronto, ON, Canada, Spring (Date TBA) | Boston, MA, US, Fall (Date TBA) | Vancouver, BC, Canada, Fall (Date TBA) | Chicago, IL, US, Fall (Date TBA)
Why: ProjectSummit Business Analyst World is one of largest training conferences for BAs and Project Managers in North America. The conference is accredited by PMI & IIMA and promises to help you acquire new skills, learn from industry experts and innovators, increase productivity, and expand your network.


New Trends in Project Management

Where and when: Gdańsk, Poland, Apr 19 – Apr 21
Why: Held by the PMI Gdańsk Branch, New Trends in Project Management brings presentations and workshops that will discuss the latest innovations and best practices in project management across various industries. Attendees are promised to gain practical and technical knowledge, interesting contacts and a strong network, while also earning PDU points to maintain their certification.


UMD VIRTUAL Project Management Symposium

Where and when: Online, April 22 – April 23
Why: The annual UMD Project Management Symposium is a blend between industry, government and academics, approaching diverse topics such as Stakeholder Management, Data Analytics, Federal Programs, Change management, Risk & Resilience, and Integrated Program Management. The 2021 edition will be held online, so you can join from anywhere for the opportunity to learn from the best and earn up to 44.25 PDUs.


AIPM 2020 National Conference

Where and when: Gold Coast, Australia, April 27 – April 28
Why: The AIPM National Conference may well be Australia’s largest event dedicated to project management professionals. Details about topics and speakers have not been released yet, but the event is certain to help broaden your knowledge whether you’re a beginner or seasoned project manager.


SPMI Regional Symposium

Where and when: Singapore, May 6 – May 7
Why: The SPMI Regional Symposium is Asia's most sought-after annual project management conference, attended by over 500 Program and Project Managers, executives, scholars and industry experts. The 2021 edition will feature over 20 top-tier speakers sharing their stories, while topics addressed will range from leadership and PM trends to latest technology, tools and techniques.



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HAPPYPROJECTS 21

Where and when: Online, May 27
Why: Usually held in Vienna, Austria, HAPPY PROJECTS has been a platform for national and international PM experts and academics to exchange knowledge on the topics of project, change and process management. The 2021 edition, “It’s Spring Time”, will address topics like: spring cleaning in Project Management, how to deal with increased uncertainty, mindsets in demand in spring, and purpose-driven changes, to name just a few.


Resource Planning Summit

Where and when: St. Luis, MO, US, Jun 7 – Jun 9
Why: The Resource Planning Summit invites you to “learn, network and play” during a 3-day event that promises to make education fun. Join leading experts, practitioners and authors in the world of Resource and Portfolio Management and connect with peers on topics like resource planning optimization, capacity planning, or demand management. “What about the fun part”, you ask? Well, be prepared for special evening events such as scavenger hunts, brewery tours, and other surprises.


CHG MGMT: Global Connect 2021

Where and when: Online, Jun 8 – Jun 11
Why: Organized by the Association of Change Management Professionals, Global Connect is a virtual live event that promises engaging educational content for new and seasoned CM and PM practitioners alike. Attendees can look forward to discovering new tools, learning the latest trends in change management, networking with peers from around the world, while also earning PDU points.


IPMA Research Conference

Where and when: Jinan, China, Jun 12 – Jun 13
Why: The 2021 edition of the IPMA Research Conference focuses on Leadership and Society, studying the interaction between project management and leadership on the one hand, and social, political and economic processes on the other. The event aims to bring together academics and practitioners in Project Management to discuss research ideas and achievements on topics such as projectification, shared leadership, change, resilience, vertical leadership, stakeholder engagement and sustainable development.


PMO Conference London

Where and when: London, UK, Jun 14 – Jun 15
Why: Join 600 like-minded professionals for UK’s largest PMO conference. Focused on project, program and portfolio offices, the 2-day event boasts expert speakers, a large exhibition, and the opportunity to learn about the latest PM trends and tools, while expand your professional network.




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Project Management in Practice (PMiP 2021)

Where and when: Boston/Online (TBA), Jun 25 – Jun 26
Why: Organized by Boston University, the 2021PMiP conference has change management as main theme and will feature three tracks: Agile Project Management, Sustainability, and Project, Program and Portfolio Management. Register to meet star-studded international speakers, up your capabilities as a PM professional, and earn up to 16 PDUs. Note: because of the pandemic, it is not yet certain whether the event will take place in Boston or online.


Agile2021

Where and when: Online, Jul 19 – Jul 22
Why: Reaching its 20th edition, the annual North American conference organized by the Agile Alliance aims to further Agile principles and provide an avenue for people and ideas to flourish. Agile2021 will be held online, bringing together professionals from all around the world to discuss the latest strategies, techniques and practices in Agile software development.


32nd IPMA World Congress

Where and when: St. Petersburg, Russia, Sep 21 – Sep 23
Why: Postponed from 2020 to 2021 because of COVID-19, the 32nd IPMA World Congress expects over 900 participants from all over the world and will feature no less than 140 speakers. The global has as main theme “Project Management in the Digital Transformation Era” and is dedicated to project and program managers in private and public sectors, scientists, and teachers alike. The event program will cover topics such as managing national programs, the evolution of PM tools and approaches, or mathematical methods of project management, to name just a few.


FuturePMO

Where and when: London, UK, Oct 14
Why: The one-day event is one of UK’s most popular project management conferences, featuring inspiring and informative sessions that will push the boundaries of your PMO thinking. Besides top-notch speakers and interactive workshops, FuturePMO promises a day full of fun and surprises.


Digital PM Summit

Where and when: Online, Oct 25 – Oct 27
Why: Renowned for its friendly and welcoming atmosphere, the Digital PM Summit is a good event to attend if you haven’t been to many large project management conferences and are a bit nervous about the networking part. The summit aims to accelerate your professional development as a Project Manager and help you work through challenges, absorb different perspectives, and find lasting connections.


Global Scrum Gathering

Where and when: Lisbon, Portugal, Nov 17 – Nov 19
Why: A project management conference for all levels, the Global Scrum Gathering in Lisbon offers three days of keynotes and workshop-style sessions to help you learn the latest trends, implementation practices and creative applications of the Scrum framework. Join professionals from around the world, expand your network and get inspired to reach a new level in your agile journey.


Final Thoughts

Even though there’s still a lot of uncertainty brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 looks promising. With plenty of Project Management conferences that have already been announced – and vaccines finally starting to become available – many PMs have started planning for the events they’d like to attend, either online or offline. What are your plans for 2021?



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Top 5 Balanced Scorecard Software

To have a balanced view of their performance and assess their effectiveness, companies need to look at both financial and non-financial measures, along with their short- and long-term goals. One of the best ways to do this is by using a balanced scorecard, which needs to be regularly tracked with the help of an appropriate tool.

Since there is a variety of related options out there, choosing the right fit for your organization can be a real challenge. To help you make an informed decision, we have put together a list of selection criteria and the best 5 examples on the market.


Best Balanced Scorecard Software

Why Are Balanced Scorecards Important?

When it comes to defining what optimal business performance means and determining whether a company’s management is achieving the desired results, nothing works better than a balanced scorecard.

Translating an organization’s mission and values into a comprehensive set of actionable steps set to propel it into success, a balanced scorecard acts as an effective strategy planning and management framework.

To successfully build and implement a balanced scorecard, managers need to:

  • Articulate the business’s vision and strategy;
  • Identify the performance categories that best link a company’s strategic plans and various internal functions to their external outcomes;
  • Outline objectives that support the company’s vision and strategy;
  • Develop relevant standards to be observed in order to accomplish short-term and long-term milestones;
  • Ensure enterprise-wide acceptance of the measures;
  • Collect and analyze performance data and compare actual results with desired thresholds;
  • Create appropriate budgeting, tracking and communication systems;
  • Take corrective action to close unfavorable gaps.

Once a balanced scorecard is created, it is generally used to:

  • Update, clarify and enhance a company’s strategy;
  • Correlate strategic objectives with long-term targets and annual budgets;
  • Track the essential elements of the business strategy;
  • Incorporate strategic measures into the process of allocating resources;
  • Usher and facilitate organizational change;
  • Compare performance of geographically diverse business units;
  • Increase the understanding of the corporate vision and strategy at a company-wide level.

Given the many important purposes that a balanced scorecard can serve, it is critical for companies to regularly monitor and update it. By doing so, they can benefit from a constant feedback mechanism that lays down a clear direction towards achieving their goals. To get the best results, using a dedicated application to manage your balanced scorecard is recommended.

How to Choose the Best Balanced Scorecard Software for Your Organization

To decide which balanced scorecard option is the most appropriate for your business, the following attributes may serve as useful selection criteria:

  • Easy to use – you don’t want to settle for software that is too complicated for your team to use as it can result in frustration and poor results. A good scorecard application should be easy to learn and manage, intuitive, and coming with clear guidelines on how to operate it. Training, how-to support materials, and scorecard templates are a bonus.
  • Easy to customize – each organization has its own unique goals and strategies and, as a result, there are different balanced scorecards that can be used for different profiles. Hence, you should go for a system that allows customization to meet your specific needs. Balanced scorecard software solutions that come with a free trial are preferable because you can thus run a test before purchasing and determine whether it is a good investment or not.
  • Strategy map features – a quality balanced scorecard tool can create strategy maps of your BSC from different perspectives. It should let the user perform various tasks (adding logos, drawing arrows between objectives, moving and resizing objects on the graphic).
  • Visualization of organizational structure – your BSC-specific program should include powerful visualizations of organizational structure and strategy to allow you to communicate the relationship between the organization’s key performance indicators and objectives.
  • Dashboards – with dashboards, users can see the big picture at a glance, add live data in the form of images, graphs and text, monitor their critical data and drill down for more details on performance trends.
  • Annotation, attachments, and collaboration – these features will allow users to engage in discussions on certain items and make the information available from the different visualizations.
  • Reporting features – a good BSC tool should be able to generate figures, charts and relevant analysis so you can get both qualitative and quantitative reports for your company.
  • Export capabilities – the system of your choice should allow you to export data into a clear and organized manner (either in Excel, PowerPoint or .pdf format).
  • Automation and integration – many organizations want to adopt a BSC platform mainly to save time and efforts. Thus, look for software with features that can speed up processes (such as easy data entry and upload) and which integrates with other programs in place within your company.
  • Access rights – ensure that your system is able to limit the users’ access based on their rights and responsibilities so they can focus only on what they are supposed to view and work on.

Your Ultimate Balanced Scorecard Software List

Based on the key features outlined above, we’ve created a top of the most popular strategy planning solutions that you can use for managing your scorecard. Here they are:

  1. Sisense
  2. Office Timeline
  3. Corporater
  4. ClearPoint Strategy
  5. QuickStore

Let’s now take a closer look at each of these balanced scorecard tools.


1. Sisense

Powered by In-Chip and Stack technologies, Sisense enables even the most non-technical users to access data and build interactive dashboards and business intelligence reports. Providing a single, out-of-the-box interface to process and visualize large sets of variables without IT resources, it simplifies business analysis for complex data. You can use its drag-and-drop feature, one-click formulas and diverse range of dashboard widgets (geographical maps, line charts, scatter plots, gauges and pie charts) to measure KPIs, determine trends, highlight correlations, compare and pinpoint the best representation of your input.

Feature Overview:

  • Joining data from multiple sources;
  • Drag & drop joining of multiple data sources;
  • Creation and sharing of interactive dashboards;
  • Capability to query data in real time;
  • Offers a wide range of deployment options;
  • Access right control;
  • Demo available;
  • Custom pricing based on your business’s profile.

Sisense Scorecard Software

2. Office Timeline

Available as both a desktop add-in (Office Timeline) and online application (Office Timeline Online), it is a user-friendly, ready-to-use tool that helps users to create a variety of strategy management visuals as presentation-ready, native PowerPoint slides. Featuring a diverse gallery of pre-designed templates, an intuitive drag&drop interface and smart layout engine that automatically generates representations of your data, the software is ideal for non-technical users.

Feature Overview:

  • Easy data import functionality and pre-built templates to set you up faster;
  • Rich data management and customization functionalities (task/milestone creation and assigning capabilities, shapes, colors, percentage complete and status indicators for progress tracking, same-row and swimlane grouping of activities);
  • Integration with Excel, MS Project, Smartsheet and Wrike;
  • Flexible export capabilities (as Excel files, PowerPoint slides and PNG images);
  • Share & Collaboration functionality and data access rights option to allow multi-party editing on the same visual with no need for registration;
  • Fully-functional freemium model for both versions (desktop add-in users limited to 10 rows of data; visuals generated with the web-based app being watermarked if the 10-row limit is exceeded);
  • Price: the Office Timeline Online paid plan costs $59/year; the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in Pro edition costs $99/year with a 14-day free trial available as well.

Office Timeline Scorecard Software

3. Corporater

Providing a business management platform that includes all the core elements related to a BSC and which adapts to the user’s unique business model, Corporater empowers medium and large companies to assess, manage and continuously improve their performance. With functions and capabilities that allow you to link multiple management disciplines (compliance, strategy, risk, operations, finance, HR and others), Corporater’s interface lets you create custom management solutions for strategy, KPIs, performance and business dashboards.

Feature Overview:

  • Balanced scorecard and XPP model;
  • Easy-to-use strategy map designer;
  • Perspectives and strategic objectives components;
  • Cascading of strategy and alignment;
  • Data source integrations;
  • Annotations;
  • Goal management functions;
  • Progress tracking features;
  • Pricing quote on request.

Corporater Scorecard Software


4. ClearPoint Strategy

ClearPoint is a strategy execution tool that lets professionals easily manage objectives, measures, initiatives and action items in one place. Its users are able to create and customize a single scorecard or multiple cascading scorecards, as well as to automatically generate and distribute a variety of reports. With features to link and align goals and KPIs and to integrate data from different sources, ClearPoint makes it simple for you to execute on your strategic plan.

Feature Overview:

  • Scorecard and dashboard creation, updating and customization options;
  • Data integration from multiple sources;
  • Automation engine;
  • Reporting capabilities;
  • Notification system;
  • Objective, initiative, measure and action item management functions;
  • On-page editing;
  • Integrated help and tooltips;
  • Demo available on request;
  • Prices ranging from $250/month (Basic Plan) to $800/month (Professional Plan).

ClearPoint Strategy Scorecard Software


5. QuickScore

QuickScore is a flexible cloud-based strategy and KPI management tool that allows companies, organizations and government agencies to user their own strategic model, whether that is the BSC, the Ansoff Matrix, the Strategic Horizons or an in-house strategic process. Officially recommended by the Balanced Scorecard Institute, it automates your BSC once you enter your perspectives, objectives and measures.

Feature Overview:

  • Automatically generated scorecards and strategy maps based on data entry;
  • Color-coded customization and update options for objectives, initiatives, KPIs;
  • Live dashboard sharing with non-registered parties;
  • Linked actions and cascading scorecards;
  • Goal tracking function;
  • Drill-down capabilities;
  • Search widget and alerts system;
  • Product tour available and live demo offered upon appointment;
  • Price: $95/month per user (payable quarterly or annually; one month free for the latter payment plan).

QuickScore Scorecard Software


Conclusion

Effectively creating and managing your balanced scorecard heavily depends on the software that you use for this particular purpose. We hope that the options outlined in this blog post will guide you towards choosing the most suitable solution for you.


Balanced Scorecard Software Overview


Software Key benefit
Price Free trial
1. Sisense Simplifies business analysis for complex data Custom pricing on request Test drive available
2. Office Timeline Creates strategy management visuals as native PowerPoint slides From $59/year Both 14-day free trial and freemium versions available with no obligations
3. Corporater Links multiple management disciplines Pricing quote on request On request
4. ClearPoint Strategy Integrates data from different sources From $250/month Free 15-day trial conditioned by a demo
5. QuickScore Automatically generates scorecards and strategy maps $95/month per user Test drive available



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Top 10 Swimlane Software for Project Management

Best Swimlane Software

What are swimlanes in project management?

Swimlane diagrams are an excellent tool for visually organizing a complex project. They achieve this by grouping specific tasks, milestones, business processes and other elements together into “lanes” divided by parallel lines, hence the association with the world of swimming competitions.

Generally, a swimlane diagram will define the employee or department handling certain tasks, the stage of the project when a task should be handled, etc. In the context of visuals illustrating a workflow or processes, you might also find them under the name of cross-functional flowcharts.

Types of swimlane diagrams

Swimlanes can be added to virtually any type of project visual, providing of course that the categories make sense to the PM and are useful in decluttering the layout of the graph. For the sake of simplicity, we have decided to split the applications in three major categories:

At the same time, this post is dedicated to tools that are primarily designed for the purpose of transforming data into visual representations. Find out how to create a timeline in Excel or if you want to learn how to make a Gantt chart in PowerPoint, check out our additional resources.

Related guides:

Let’s now take a closer look at some of the most popular project management solutions that can integrate swimlanes in their repertoire of visualization tools.


  Top 10 swimlane software for project management shortlist:

  Here are the best tools for creating swimlane diagrams:

  1. Kanbanize
  2. Planview
  3. Zenkit
  4. Office Timeline
  5. Monday
  6. Toggl Plan
  7. OnePager
  8. Visio
  9. Lucidchart
  10. Gliffy

Kanban boards

One of the best-known strategies in agile project management for limiting the number of simultaneous tasks and prioritizing them in order to maximize efficiency are Kanban boards. Swimlanes are inherent to their design. The system quickly earned adepts in software development and this helped it make the transition from physical to digital. Before we get started with the apps in this category, here’s a Kanban board example to better illustrate the concept:

Kanband board

Let’s find out who’s on our list!


1. Kanbanize

The company behind Kanbanize, Businessmap LTD, was founded back in 2008 and their vision is aligned with modern corporate values such as scalability, collaboration and automation. The flexibility of the application allows it to easily adapt to any industry’s requirements. This claim is supported by their diversified clientele that includes Bose, GoDaddy, Epic Games, Mozilla and Arsenal FC.

Swimlane made with Kanbanize

The agile project management software features comprehensive boards that can be updated at any point, permissions that can be defined and customized, event triggers, email integration, analytics and time-tracking capabilities. Kanbanize simplifies the job of PMs working with multiple teams via the Management Workspace, which permits distributing and tracking work across multiple projects from a single interface.

With respect to users’ feedback, Kanbanize could be improved by adding integration with external apps and better options for card finding, particularly in environments with numerous pages.


2. Planview Enterprise One

Planview’s mission is to make the transition from strategy to delivery across organizations as painless as possible. In other words, their application is designed to translate high-level objectives into very specific, achievable and actionable steps and deliver strategic initiatives. With tools like roadmaps, Planview bridges the gap between the resources and projects. Vertical swimlanes are used to categorize the cards in each sub-section of the Kanban board for more visibility.

Swimlane made with Planview

What’s more, it also includes analytics and enables you to create presumptive scenarios, then compare outcomes and determine the best course of action investment-wise.

For Planview Enterprise one, the complexity can also be perceived as a setback, because it steepens the learning curve. When the Kanban board grows, the numerous configurable columns on the swimlanes become a bit intimidating, particularly when users lack an extensive experience.


3. Zenkit

Synergy is the word of the day with this Kanban project management tool. Like the popular TV series character Dirk Gently, the team behind Zenkit believes that ‘everything is connected’, and they apply this principle in terms of tasks, client data, business documentation, etc. Their belief is best illustrated by their import feature, and API that seamlessly integrates with thousands of other apps to bring in external data, hassle free.

Swimlane made with Zenkit

Designed primarily as a Kanban board, Zenkit also has the ability to create Gantt charts and timelines, when this type of visualization would facilitate understanding the project’s next steps. Checklists and to-do lists with flexible labels, collaboration, formulas, offline mode and mobile versions are part of their arsenal as well.

The app does struggle a bit with larger teams, particularly in the free version: there have been some reports of lag and general slowness in this respect.


Timeline and Gantt charts

Gantt charts and timelines are the ideal visualization tools for illustrating the tasks and milestones of a project against the backdrop of timeband, because they allow users to frame everything in context. Swimlanes are not native to them. In fact, here’s a Gantt chart example without swimlanes:

Gantt chart

However, much like adding chocolate sprinkles on icecream, swimlanes give Gantt charts and timelines extra flavour. A swimlane diagram is considerably easier to organize and understand the more tasks and milestones you have. Check out this swimlane diagram example:

Swimlane diagram

Gantt charts and roadmaps created as swimlane diagrams are quite popular in project management because they are extremely visual. Task, for instance are depicted as bars with lengths varying according to their individual duration, permitting you to figure out how all the puzzle pieces fit together. Whenever you’re fleshing out a project, these graphs make the planning and execution less convoluted. Let’s check out the contestants.


4. Office Timeline

A timeline and Gantt chart maker tool developed to synergize with PowerPoint and leverage the functionalities of the popular presentation software, Office Timeline is available as an add-in for it and a standalone, browser-based version. Ease of use, an extensive line of beautifully designed swimlane templates, an intuitive interface and the absence of any serious learning curve are the key points that recommend this application for non tech savvy users in the PM field.

Swimlane made with Office Timeline

Furthermore, the PowerPoint integration allows you to create the Gantt charts and roadmaps with the same software you will use to hold the presentation to your stakeholders, saving time and resources. Office Timeline is compatible with other frequently used project management apps like Excel, Smartsheet, Wrike and even MS Project, so you can import data and sync changes to the source file.

Office Timeline templates

Office Timeline currently only produces Gantt charts, timelines and roadmaps with swimlanes, but the application is in continuous development and extra features as well as new templates are being added all the time.


5. Monday

It may not be anyone’s favorite day of the week, but it’s definitely a cloud-based project management software worth checking out. Monday relies on a unique style of color and placement to organize and manage teams. Color coding isn’t by any means new or groundbreaking. However, Monday makes good use of it to convey information like who’s assigned to a task, due dates, statuses and progress in general.

Swimlane made with Monday

At its core, Monday is not exactly a Gantt chart maker, but it can become one by adding the Timeline widget to the dashboard. Monday also shines in terms of assigning specific tasks to team members, Then, via the Timeline view mode, you can access a comprehensive overview of all projects.

The main challenges of this project management software come from the per-user pricing limitations, limited mobile app capabilities and difficulties with expense and time tracking.


6. Toggl Plan

Similarly to Office Timeline, Toggl Plan is a PM tool designed with simplicity and ease of use in mind. New users will appreciate the fact that its interface doesn’t overwhelm you from the start with a plethora of complex features and settings. The philosophy behind this planner is that micro-management stifles creativity and should be avoided, which is why Toggle is geared towards creating swimlane diagrams as high level overviews, like the one below.

Swimlane made with Toggl Plan

However, this is where the similarities between the two Gantt chart makers end. Toggle Plan is not as design focused and the way visual elements are illustrated border on spartan minimalism, but it does include Kanban Board capabilities and to-do lists.

According to most users, more integrations with external apps and a simplification and the addition of an invoicing system are the main grow points for the Toggl app.


7. OnePager

This application also has something in common with Office Timeline: it is designed as an add-in for a popular Microsoft application, namely Microsoft Project. By taking the task-level data from Project, it can export multiple phases or a complete, simplified schedule as a Gantt chart or timeline, with or without the swimlanes.

Swimlane made with OnePager

Those of your who worked with Microsoft Project before are painfully aware of the tool’s complexity and the lack of simple visual customizations available. OnePager aims to change that by transforming the project schedules into swimlane diagrams focused on the audience, and that can be edited with ease, while preserving the integrity of the original data. Bonus, this project management app also allows exporting the results as Gantt charts with swimlanes in PowerPoint slides.

Now, on the downside, Microsoft Project is a pretty great application, but it’s not always the best option, especially if you’re going for a high-level overview. Therefore, OnePager’s limitation comes from the platform this Gantt chart maker was built on.


Flowchart makers

Flowchart diagrams can be used to represent an operation or a process visually, and rely on logical steps. This is why, in addition to project management and the development of business plans, another practical use for them is the design of mathematical algorithms. They can have just a few steps or can grow to be incredibly complex, which is when you can introduce swimlanes to organize them more easily. Here’s a swimlane diagram example of what a flowchart might look like:

Flowchart example

Now, onto the apps!


8. Microsoft Visio

Visio is often listed as the go-to application for flowchart design, thanks to the wide variety of diagrams it can produce. Featuring templates for networking, floor plans, data processes and much more, this Microsoft application is part of the Office 365 package. However, according to users, that can be a double-edged sword because you don’t always know what version you’re going to get; it really depends on the type O365 package you purchase.

Swimlane made with Visio

In addition to the templates, Visio also includes an extensive shape and stencil library, which make it a great interdisciplinary tool. Another plus for Visio is that it’s very easy to showcase the relationship between multiple elements on the flowchart without cluttering the visuals too much. Because it’s part of the Microsoft suite, it also boasts integration with other applications like Excel or Access, allowing you to pull data directly from the databases.

What most users struggle with are the publishing and sharing of the flowchart diagrams, and the lack of a browser-based or Mac/Linux version.


9. Lucidchart

According to some users, Lucidchart is a far superior flowchart maker compared to Visio from several standpoints, but the one most often noted is the ease of use. We have to agree here. From the first steps you’ll notice that the learning curve is virtually non-existent and the interface – in Lucidchart’s case a web app – is very intuitive. Bonus points for having an offline mode in spite of this.

Swimlane made with Lucidchart

Lucidchart can produce cross-functional flowchart diagrams to keep even complex plans nice and tidy. On the same note, it allows working on separate layers and containers, for easy categorization. Once you’re done, you can use the Presentation mode to showcase the work, but you can also publish it or share it as an URL.

There aren’t many complaints around Lucidchart as a whole. One of the things users would like to see in future updates are the ability to auto-expire links. Some tweaks around the snap-to-grid which is thrown out of balance when the canvas size changes would also be welcome.


10. Gliffy

Are you looking for a solution that allows you to quickly draw a swimlane flowchart without installing a single thing? There are moments when speed, ease of use and simplicity trump all other factors, and that’s exactly Gliffy’s time to shine. This application also seamlessly integrates with popular platforms such as Slack, Trello, Confluence, WordPress, G Suite and many others. Collaboration and templates for all the basic styles of flowchart diagrams are what Gliffy excels at.

Swimlane made with Gliffy

Speaking of basics, there’s only a handful of formats supported for exporting your newly drawn swimlane diagrams (JPG, PNG, SVG, and Gliffy), but on the other hand they are the most frequently used. Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that this flowchart creator is by far one of the most inexpensive alternatives around, although most users describe the available plans as slightly awkward.

There’s scope to grow for Gliffy, and it’s by no means as comprehensive as Lucidchart or Visio.


Conclusion

Before picking a project management software with swimlane capabilities, it’s advisable to determine what type of diagram would work best with your organizing style and context. The list here is by no means exhaustive; let us know what your favorite application is in the comments!

If you favor timelines and Gantt charts, check out this blog post for a list of the best Gantt chart apps on the market that are worth exploring.


Best Swimlane Software for Project Management Overview


Rank Type
Software Description
1 Kanban Board Kanbanize An agile project management tool with time tracking, email integration, automated events and analytics
2 Kanban board Planview Enterprise One A complex and comprehensive Kanban Board for designed for actionable plans capable of analytics and what-if scenarios.
3 Kanban board Zenkit A simple but powerful PM tool that leverages synergies and integrates with many external platforms.
4 Gantt chart & Timeline maker Office Timeline An intuitive and easy to use timeline, Gantt chart and roadmap maker that relies on beautiful, professionally designed templates, aimed at the less tech-savvy user groups in PM.
5 Gantt chart & Timeline maker Monday A more complex application that leverages color coding to simplify the project overview.
6 Gantt chart & Timeline maker Toggl Plan An easy to use timeline maker with minimalist graphics.
7 Gantt chart & Timeline maker OnePager A Microsoft Project add-in that can render easily editable Gantt charts based on the source file data.
8 Flowchart maker Visio Microsoft’s flowchart creator that boasts extensive templates, shapes and customization options.
9 Flowchart maker Lucidchart A simpler and easier to use alternative to Microsoft’s Visio.
10 Flowchart maker Gliffy Out-of-the box minimalistic flowchart maker with no installation required.


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