Kanban vs Gantt

Kanban Boards vs Gantt Charts: What to use?

12 min read11th of October 2021

Depending on your business practices, your preferences as a project manager, and the types of projects you are leading, it can be difficult to decide which type of approach suits the project the best. 

Keep in mind that the Kanban process is an Agile Project Management methodology, while Gantt charts are associated with the Waterfall methodology. 

However, there has been a movement to combine Agile and Traditional Project Management methodologies into a hybrid approach. To learn more about the two approaches and their advantages, visit our articles on Kanban and Gantt charts in our useful links below.

Let’s dive into the use cases for each of the two processes found in Cloud Coach as separate project methods, as well as the uses for the hybrid approach.

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Kanban Board Use Cases

Following  the Agile Project Management methodology, the Kanban board is a visual representation of a project’s workflow that showcases the statuses of the cards based on the steps each card is located under. 

This methodology is best suited for shorter projects that are not results-driven and tend to undergo frequent changes and iterations. The cards (or tasks) on these projects are not dependent on one another.

Case 1: Software Development

As a piece of code is being developed, it has to undergo requirements review, actually writing the code, testing the code, reviewed and tested by someone else, deployment, and then it can reach completion. 

Sometimes, the code cannot work with the system or it’s on hold or in the backlog. A project manager can quickly scan the board to see the overall status of each user story and requirement. The end-product of the project is a deliverable, which is the code in this case.

Case 2: New Hire Onboarding

When onboarding new hires, an example process can break the steps up by time frames, such as first week, first month, or by knowledge areas. If certain cards have to backtrack due to new hire feedback or scheduling delays, the card can easily be moved to one of the previous steps. The end-product is a trained new hire who’s ready to tackle their assignments.

Gantt Chart Use Cases

The Gantt Chart is a visual representation of the project timeline and task dependencies within the project. A project manager can follow the progression of the timeline based on the completion of the tasks and task time-frames. 

Each phase of the project either builds upon the previous phase or depends on the deliverable of the previous phase to achieve the next steps. Projects that have specific timelines, resourcing requirements, and task dependencies, and follow an established procedure benefit from the Gantt Chart.

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Case 3: Fulfilling Product Orders

Product orders typically have a set timeframe to deliver the order, as well as an established procedure to complete each phase of the order. Using the waterfall method and the Gantt chart can show a clear visual of the product order timeline and progression of each phase of the order. 

As each task is completed, the completion rolls up to the phase and subsequently the project completion percentages. If certain tasks are running behind schedule or failing to deliver the expected results, the project manager can track the changes to the timeline through snapshot and screenshot functionalities in Cloud Coach. 

Case 4: Manufacturing Products

Manufacturing practices generally follow an established procedure and there are many dependencies. If the procurement team is unable to source the right or appropriate amount of materials for a product, the manufacturing of the product cannot occur until an alternate solution is provided. There are also set schedules to ensure that products can be delivered on time and meet customer expectations.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Kanban boards?

Advantages of Kanban boards
 
  • Easy to track progression of tasks
  • Simple to use and more user-friendly interface
  • More flexibility for changes on tasks, such as feedback and backlogs
  • Tasks/Cards can follow any type of established process

Disadvantages of Kanban boards

  • The focus is on the process, rather than results
  • There’s very little emphasis, if any, on the timeframe of a project

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Gantt charts?

Advantages of Gantt charts
 
  • Clear visualization of all of the task and phase timelines
  • Easily see task dependencies
  • Manage timelines and milestones in one place
  • Manage resources more efficiently by seeing which tasks are allocated and which ones need to worked on
  • Critical Path management is simpler
  • Easily visualize the critical path and the progression. If a project is falling behind, it is easier to see how a project can be crashed or fast-tracked

Disadvantages of Gantt charts

  • For large and highly complex projects, the chart can be difficult to follow and become unruly
  • Project managers on very large projects may spend too much time updating tasks
  • Because of its highly structured nature, it is difficult to add flexibility to certain tasks that require more fluid approaches, such as feedback and backlog management

Leveraging the Hybrid Water-Scrum-Fall Approach

Sometimes known as Wagile, the Water-Scrum-Fall methodology combines the Kanban board and Gantt Chart processes into one method. 

Tasks can have sub-tasks with the Gantt Chart approach, or they can have cards associated with them in order to achieve the completion of the task with the Kanban board. This gives you, the project manager, the flexibility to choose between the two types of methods for task completion and leverage the iterative and flexible nature of the Kanban board and the strict, traditional approach of the Waterfall methodology. 

In Cloud Coach, the Water-Scrum-Fall is visualized as a Gantt chart by default. Next to the names of each task, you can easily identify which tasks follow a Kanban board with the Kanban icon. To create a task that is based on the Kanban method, click “Add Task” in the top right hand corner, and as you fill out the details, include which board process you would like the task to follow. 

Once the task has been created, click on the “Kanban” tab in the timelines header, and you will be able to use the Kanban board and navigate between the different Kanban-based tasks in your project. As cards are completed, the completion will roll up to the task completion percentage, and show a progression bar on the Gantt chart.

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Case 5: Developing a Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

In any new product development, there are many subsystems, components, and subcomponents that contribute to an overall product that satisfies the requirements, as well as meeting set deadlines to deliver the final product. 

There are many phases involved in this type of project, such as research and development, manufacturing, and testing. Some of the tasks in each of the phases, such as developing software for the robotic vacuum cleaner, are better suited with Kanban methodologies. 

Other tasks and phases, such as manufacturing and procurement, can follow the traditional waterfall methodology. Kanban-based tasks can have dependencies with Waterfall-tasks, and more types of tasks can be accomplished with a project without needing to create a separate project to complete them.

Case 6: Implementing Software

Implementing software follows a set schedule and some tasks have dependencies as the implementation progresses. For example it is difficult to begin building a requirement if you haven’t collected all of the requirements for the implementation process. Some of the tasks in the implementation are handled more effectively as a sprint in the Kanban board, rather than traditional task or subtask. Reviews are performed and changes can be made, so the Kanban cards allow the project team to easily update the status of the card as needed.

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