Project management tools act as an aid to an individual as well as a team for better project management irrespective of the project size. A project is a series of activities and tasks with a specified objective, starting and ending dates, and necessary resources. In other words, it is a temporary initiative that is agreed, planned, and executed to achieve a specific goal.
Project management includes project planning and implementation to achieve goals and objectives. The phases of project management are
- Initiating: Kick start the process
- Planning: Deciding what to execute
- Scheduling: When to execute it
- Executing: Performing the task
- Monitoring and Controlling: Reviewing and ensuring the desired results
- Closing: Capturing lessons learned and collecting feedback
For effective project management, the organization or project management team should have appropriate tools; those are called project management tools. The project management tools help to standardize the work and make the project manager work efficiently. Many of these tools are part of quality improvement and quality control activities apart from project management.
Following are some of the project management tools
Project planning is one of the critical phases in project management; it comes after the project initiation phase. Project planning describes the objectives or outputs that are expecting from the project to yield.
A good project plan will include project scope, strategy, cost-benefit analysis, project scheduling, major milestones, and complete description resources (including human resources) to carry out the project.
Resource allocation and project scheduling are the two different components of the project plan. A project schedule is important to run or perform the different tasks of a project. Each task has its own start date and end date. Scheduling helps to finish the project within the specified due date.
Project report is documenting all that happing during the tenure of the project. It helps to evaluate the project and also helps in forthcoming projects.
Work Breakdown Structure
In project management and system engineering, a work breakdown structure(WBS) is a decomposition of a project into smaller components. A work breakdown structure is a critical deliverable that organizes the team’s work into a manageable section. In other words, it is a plan which expands the project or statement of work into a detailed listing of activities requires to complete the project.
The concept of a work breakdown structure is very simple. It breakdown complex tasks into smaller activities and then elements until reach a point where it can no longer subdivide the tasks.
Once the workforce, material, and machines ascertain for each activity, the project network can be scheduled. Furthermore, it is a balance between a resource, time, and budget.
Program Evaluation and review technique (PERT) chart is a tool that shows project as a network diagram. The primary purpose of PERT chart is to reduce the time and cost required to complete a project.
Represent events and activities in sequence in the network to determine the critical path. Critical path is the sequence of tasks that requires the greatest expected time.
The PERT chart’s biggest advantage is the critical path analysis can help identify the interrelationship between tasks and the bottlenecks/issues in the process. PERT chart is to used for non-repetitive, unique projects.
The critical path is the longest path of the network diagram:10-30-50-70-80-90.
A Critical path method (CPM) is the longest duration through a project network diagram. In other words, it is the shortest time to complete the project considering all the dependencies. CPM is very similar to PERT; both use overlapping methodologies. However, CPM is activity oriented and PERT is event oriented.
Critical path = 5 days
Critical path shows activities as nodes with arrows to show the logical links between them. If any of the activity in the critical path is delays, then it will impact total project delivery. There can be more than one critical path for a project, but having more than one critical path increases the risk. Because CPM can take cost into considerations, it can be more rigorous than PERT.
A Gantt chart is a graphical representation of the duration of tasks against the progression of time. Gantt chart typically outlines all the activities performed in a project in a systematic order to represent critical information and people assigned to each task. Henry Laurence Gantt developed Gantt Chart in 1910.
Gantt chart depicts both start and finish time of each task showing where it is possible to have things happening simultaneously, which helps to plan resources appropriately.
A Gantt chart is a tool to manage the project, and this helps to make the project schedule visible. Gantt chart presents the connection between activities and also the project flow. Milestone chart, Project bar chart, and activity chart are the other names of Gantt chart.
Project documentation is one of the key aspects of project management. Document the methods of planning, monitoring, and controlling activities using a manual method like plain paper, colored magnetic makers etc or using computer-based tools. However, these help to organize and summarize the data; the ultimate goal is to complete the project on-time.
Milestones are important activities in the project which are planned to be completed at an explicit time period. Milestones need to review and approve by the stakeholders before it moves to the next milestone. Project leads to prepare the document and needs to share with all stakeholders covering any potential roadblocks or challenges.
Project report is the final report card, which covers project performance, benefits, and also captures lessons learned during the project. This will help as a guide for future projects for better planning and to avoid the same mistakes.
- Responsible: These are the individuals responsible for doing the task. There can be more than one individual to perform the task.
- Accountable or also know as Approve: This is the individual who is ultimately accountable for the work being done in a satisfactory manner. There should be only one individual accountable who must sign-off the work that is done by a responsible person.
- Consulted: These are the individuals whose input helps to perform the task. They can also be individuals who have relevant experience that can be valuable to the responsible and accountable.
- Informed: These are the individuals who are kept informed about the status of the task. Unlike other RACI interactions, this is one-way communication.
A process decision program chart (PDPC) is an extension to tree diagram and a planning tool to identify risks and countermeasures for bottom-level tasks. In other words, the tool helps anticipate undesirable occurrences and prepare with plans to neutralize their effect.
PDPC chart is similar to failure mode effects analysis (FMEA). Both identify risks, consequences of failure, and contingency actions. Furthermore, the PDPC tool is useful when one wants to plan all possible chains of events during a project. PDPC uses during the decision making especially for new, unique, and complex projects.
Project Management Tools Videos
Also see Project Tracking tools.