The features discussed below are only available in Chart Gantt Ultimate, to be released in August 2010

 We set ourselves the ambitious task of re-creating standard functionality in major project planning software tools.  One of the main challenges in building an excel based gantt chart is the use of WBS (Work Breakdown Structure).  There are a number of issues with the use of WBS in excel.

Whilst we have seen other excel based tools that attempt to offer WBS, they do this via a combination of macros and pre-set WBS templates that need to be copied and pasted down.  We wanted to give users the flexibility to create master tasks or sub-tasks wherever they wanted within the plan, to have the numbering automatically follow, and for the summary gantt chart bars to automatically display the earliest start date and latest finish date for all subtasks.  We believe that this feature, combined with the simplicity of the ChartGantt templates enable one "Kick Ass" piece of kit for project planning.

Firstly, WBS numbering.  WBS numbering usually follows the following format (1.0.0, 1.1.0,1.1.1 etc).  Whilst it is easy enough for a user to create this manually, it can lead to errors.  Duplicate WBS numbers would result in the dependencies not understanding which task you would like your task to be dependent on.  We set ourselves the ambitious task of automatically generating task numbers (without the use of Macro's) based on the WBS hierarchy that a user may dynamically create.  We found that the best way to achieve this was to use separate columns for each level of WBS title.  This has enabled us to automatically build the level based sequential number, based on user input of task level titles.

Secondly, automated summary of sub-tasks.  There is not much point having a hierarchy of tasks if you have to manually pick the earliest start and latest completion of its group of sub tasks.  Getting this to work for Chart Gantt Ulitmate was not simple.  The key reason for this is the numerous calculations that have to be performed in order for dependencies to operate.  Obviously if a sub-task is made dependent on its parent task a circular reference will occur.  Hence to enable this function to work effectively, we have elected to limit dependencies to lowest level tasks only (this prevents any circular references, yet still provides users with all the benefits of a dependency based plan.

We are pleased with what we have been able to achieve with Chart Gantt Ultimate.  Many advisors said it couldn't be done without reverting to macros.  Well we have just proved that it can, and can be done in such a way as to provide the user with full control and ease of use.

Why not give Chart Gantt ultimate a go - it now provides a real, alternative to complex planning software.  Whilst it is more complex than Chart Gantt basic and Chart Gantt Dependent, it is far more simple to use than the leading project management software.