Project Management is a challenging process from planning a concept, executing it, and meeting specific goals. Doing all this proficiently is no joke ― it involves plenty of dedication and focus. It gets even tougher if accurate information is not available at the right time. Therefore, companies need experienced and certified project managers. In result, there are a high demand for project managers.
Would you like to know the secrets of project managers? Well, all certified experts uses certain project management tools to deliver all the project components successfully and on time. Below are few diagrammatic tools which play a significant role when managing a project.
Visual Project Management
Gone are the days of reading long texts. The use of illustrations and diagrams helps to represent complex data in a simplified manner. It is then easier for businesses and their employees to plan, execute and control projects.
Some modern project management tools focus on integrating themselves with other external business tools to quickly access all the relevant data required for the success of a project. Evidently, it is imperative to understand every detail of the data, before initiating the project, even before its planning.
History of Project Management Tools
Project management dates back to the early 20th century when engineering and manufacturing businesses sought novel and better management methods to improve productivity. Henri Fayol, the Director of a French mining company, pioneered his principles of management. Parts of these were the five management functions that became the foundation of modern project management, thus baptizing him as the “originator of modern project management methods.”
An American productivity consultant, Henry Gantt, pioneered visualizing tools by introducing diagrams as the popular project management tool for designing, controlling and observing the progress of work. Henry Gantt, also popularly known as the “forefather of project management”, his charts are considered as the most valuable tool in project management until today.
Standard Diagrammatic Charts Used in Visual Project Management
Because of the increase in the complexity of projects, various new visual and diagrammatic tools were introduced to help businesses simplify complex project information.
1) Gantt Chart
It is a horizontal bar which is significantly used for illustrating a project schedule. Each activity or task is represented as a block over time; real performance is chronicled in real time and measured up to planned deadlines necessary for achieving completion.
Gantt charts could be used as a tool in the following ways:
- To schedule a time scale for a project.
- To estimate the resources required.
- To graphically illustrate a schedule of tasks to be completed.
- To strategically organize and track specific tasks for a project.
- Suitable for small simple projects.
2) PERT Chart
It is used when the entire project is planned and broken into smaller tasks. They usually illustrate the time required for the completion of each task, thus indirectly helping the project managers visualize the priority of the tasks that have to be executed. PERTs also illustrate which task is critical (critical path) and which one is less important.
In project management, a critical path is the sequence of project network activities which add up to the longest overall duration, regardless of that longest duration has a float or not. It determines the shortest time possible to complete the project.
Advantages of Critical path analysis (CPA)
- It identifies interrelationship between tasks and activities.
- It may be used to plan and allocate resources, e.g., Staff planning.
- It is an everyday communication and planning tool for time management.
3) Pareto Chart
It is an illustration that diagrammatically represents the most important or critical items among a set. This diagram consists of both bars and a line, with individual values on the bars represented in descending order. These are mainly used by the Project managers to visualize the quality control issues and to prioritize problem areas. In fact, it is one of the seven basic tools of quality control.
Advantages of Pareto chart:
- It is used to identify business issues that need quick attention.
- Usage of hard data instead of intuition gives a clear picture about the problems that are influencing an outcome the most.
4) Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a diagrammatic illustration of the entire project broken down into components and subcomponents during project management. It is used to arrange a project team’s work into manageable pieces and for estimating the time and cost associated with each piece of work. WBS produces a detailed list of tasks performed for the project, thus assisting to deliver improved costing, planning and resource designing for a project.
Benefits of using WBS:
- Used to allocate and delegate responsibility to help accomplish different tasks or activities.
- To sequence and schedule the timing of various events to improve effective time allocation.
- It improves resource planning and efficiency of consumption of resources.
- Used as a basis for financial exception reporting, i.e., forecast the project cost more accurately.
- Used to identify and monitor the risks for a project.
They are visuals that show important events labeled in chronological order on a linear time scale. Project Managers use these tools to make their stakeholders recognize what mileposts the project needs to achieve and the delivery date for each one. These timelines are often displayed with a project schedule in Gantt charts. And making a project plan is one of the most valuable skills that are expected of a project manager.
Advantages of Timeline in Project management:
- Timeline helps to quickly understand the temporal relationships and see the progress of a project schedule.
- It is a powerful tool for project scheduling.
An example of the timeline is shown below:
6) Fishbone diagram
Fishbone diagrams are also known as Ishikawa or Cause and Effect diagrams, it illustrates all possible factors that could cause an outcome. Project managers use these Fishbone diagrams to identify the exact causes of problems, rather than assuming the most obvious reasons.
Example of the Fishbone diagram is shown below:
7) Mind Map
As per the name suggests, it is a graphing technique to map the entire scenario of the topic. It helps in outlining the concept which is related to the core idea. No matter how complex is the project, this tool allows you to segregate into smaller tasks and manage to-do lists. You can insert links, pictures, files, and drill into the heart of the project that turns out to be the simplest. This feature of the mind mapping is so unique which other tools can’t do.
This technique is less formal, yet it is super flexible. You can alter your strategy as and when needed, managing the entire project efficiently.
8) Status Table
This report allows you track the progress of the project. It focuses more on the status and monitors the procedure. An added feature of the status table is that it allows you to add as many people who are involved in that particular task.
Apparently, it becomes accessible for the project leaders to evaluate the performance of every employee and be cognizant of whom to consult when there arises a problem. But, the drawback of this efficient tool is that it doesn’t contain optimum details of the project duration and relations between task.
9) HOQ (House Of Quality)
If you’re the one who is seeking for the quality in the project management tool, then with the help of HOQ you can make the most of it. It would help you determine the relationship between the potential of product and customer’s desires. Apparently, it would be easy for you to improve it based on the choice, taste and preferences of the consumers. It is used in Quality Function Development (QFD), which simplifies group decision-making.
Above figure might look complicated, but it is easy to create; as the software includes all the facilities such as matrix box, roof, markers and legend box.
Simplifying the complex task is the best way to find the solution which is done efficiently by project management tools. All the project managers can take a help from it to highlight various important aspects of their project using simple visuals. Get inspired by the aforementioned diagrammatic project management tools to simplify project and manage it like a pro.
Neil Helson is the marketing manager at Blurbpoint Media, SEO and digital marketing company. He is passionate in helping small businesses and startups grow online.
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