There are many tools available to assist Project management. Some require software, while others can be used manually.
A Gantt chart, PERT chart, Logic Network, Product Breakdown Structure and Work Breakdown Structure and Agile are standard tools used in project planning.
Choosing the right tool
Project managers should choose a project management tool that best suits their management style. There are pros and cons in using any particular tool. The tools should be used to minimize the time in completing a project and the project managers should not be spending too much time in understanding the tool.
Gantt Charts and Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) and are two of the most commonly used project management tools and are described below. Both these tools can be produced manually or with commercially available project management software.
Since their first introduction, Gantt charts have become an industry standard. They are an important project management tool used for showing the phases, tasks, milestones and resources needed as part of a project.
One of the first uses was on America’s Hoover Dam project started in 1931.
To draw up a Gantt chart, follow these steps:
- List all activities in the plan
- Head up graph paper with the days or weeks through completion
- Plot tasks on graph paper
- Schedule activities
- Present the analysis
Advantages of a Gantt Chart
- It is easy to understand
- It gives clarity of dates
- It enables time management
- It brings efficiency
- It ensures accountability in terms of timeline
- It expects coordination among stakeholders in order to deliver things as per Gantt timeline
PERT is a method for analysing the tasks involved in completing a given project, especially the time needed to complete each task and identifying the minimum time required to complete the total project.
It is a planning and control tool used for defining and controlling the tasks necessary to complete a project.
PERT planning involves the following steps:
- Identify the specific activities and milestones.
- Determine the proper sequence of activities
- Construct a network diagram
- Estimate the time required for each activity
- Determine the critical path
- Update the PERT chart as the project progresses
The following is a chart for a strategic plan for new business
Advantages of a PERT сhart
- time and resources can be evaluated required for a project.
- assets can be tracked during any production stage.
- different departments can be obtained from diagram analysis
- “what-if” analysis can be performed and activities with high risk can be identified.
A Logic Network indicates the sequence of activities in a project over time. It shows which activity logically precedes or follows another activity.
Product Breakdown Structure (PBS)
In project management, a Product Breakdown Structure (PBS) is an exhaustive, hierarchical tree structure of components that make up a project deliverable, arranged in whole-part relationship.
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
A Work Breakdown Structure is a hierarchical decomposition of the deliverables needed to complete a project. It breaks the deliverables down into manageable work packages.
Agile is a process for managing a project characterized by constant iteration and collaboration in order to more fully answer a customer’s needs.
In this a team can manage a project by breaking it up into several stages.
The following book will be useful in understanding the practical implications of implementing Project Management Tools in a corporate scenario.
It is a business novel titled, Critical Chain, written by Eliyahu M Goldratt.