Learn the Tools & Techniques Employed in Project Planning
No matter how big or small a project is, it must be efficiently managed to make sure its goals are met. Project managers must be well aware of the roles and responsibilities they have, what the need to designate and be acquainted with the tools and techniques of project management by the back of their hands.
There is a wide range of project management tools and techniques project managers employ worldwide to triumph the project. Tools are preferably used to classify decisive activities, prioritise them, allocate them and then view the project progress to ensure successful deliverance.
Here are a few of the most important tools and techniques made use of in project management.
1. What is The Project Plan?
This is the most important implement when it comes to project planning/execution. When you have a plan in place, things automatically pan out the way you wanted them to. Without a plan of action as reference, all plans, no matter how big or small face complexities.
Here’s why you need one:
- Communication with clients becomes easy.
- Work gets transparent when everyone knows what their roles and responsibilities are and how the project is advancing.
- Your life becomes more organized especially when you are multitasking during the course of a project.
- You can focus solely on the project goal – every milestone you achieve, every task you complete and finally concentrate on the end product.
Practices of a project plan
- Scope of work for each person associated.
- Features out the approach of the project, line of attack as defined in the scope and project objectives.
- A project plan also states the strategies that drive the core of a plan. This again varies from project to project and the purpose each serves.
- Resource allocation and delivery schedule comprise two other chief mechanisms of a project plan. The details in this section include each activity by each person and what their respective R&Rs are.
2. Milestone Checklist
One of the most powerful tools a project manager should bring into play is the milestone checklist. This checklist helps a project manager to establish if they are on track as per the plan at hand. This is not an extensive expensive tool. A simple Excel template does the trick. This document is a live document that is updated according to progress of the plan.
Here’s how a typical milestone checklist looks like:
Source- Milestone Charts
3. Gantt Charts
A gantt chart illustrates the project schedule and shows the project manager dependencies of each person and the activities each is undertaking. These are charts that are brought into play for any kind of project, no matter how big or small. Because a project involves a wide range of tasks and responsibilities, while creating a Gantt chart may look easy, it’s one of the most complex tasks for a project manager.
If the project is of a small scale, one can create a Gantt chart on Excel or download a template easily available on the web. If the project is of a large scale and has a lot of risks involved, the project manager should use sophisticated tools like MS Project, SmartSheet, TeamGantt, Tom’s Planner etc.
Here’s how an archetypal Gantt Chart looks like:
Source - ConceptDraw
4. Software dedicated solely toward Project Management
PMI’s Project Management Talent Gap Report has suggested that from 2010 to 2020, as the project management profession grows by over US$6.6 trillion, the global economy is seeing 15.7 million new project management roles created in various industries. The same report suggests that with about 4 million project management roles created in India this decade, employment for these practitioners will increase a whopping 60% by 2020.
With project management growing at such an exponential rate clubbed together with the technology surge, numerous software tools have been developed solely for project management - one of the most powerful being MS Project! This is a standalone tool that helps project progress tracking in a single location or even projects across geographies managed by various project managers.
Here are a few more tools/software for employed for project management:
5. Comprehensive Project Reviews
Having an all-inclusive mechanism for project review is a great tool and a crucial element of project management. All companies, no matter how big or small have stringent project reviews every once in a while.
APM Knowledge says, “A review is a critical evaluation of the quality of a deliverable in a business or a process.” Lessons one learns from the reviews are valuable for everyone associated with the project. When you have a review of something, you can take a step back and evaluate the process/system, isn’t it? If any problems have arisen during the project process, you can fix things and move ahead quickly without further ado.
6. Delivery Reviews
Like the name suggests, this review makes sure that deliverables that have been made by the project team have met the requirements stated by the customer and have adhered to universal guiding principles of quality.
A 3rd party team by and large conduct the review in order not to have a biased opinion and the project stakeholders are a part of the event. The delivery review is very crucial because it can make or break a project in the sense the reviewers can decline the project delivery due to a lot of reasons – not delivered on time, problems with quality assured or non-compliances to instructions.
7. Score Cards
No matter what kind of a project you are handling, a scorecard tracks your performance, just like a report card from school. Each project manager is accountable to gauge the performance of how the team has fared at the end of delivery and report the same to upper management and stakeholders.
The information that project managers share is vital in making future decisions as well as HR developments. An across-the-board scorecard which properly assesses the performance of the team can place teams in the correct position.
No one, not even a seasoned project manager can implement and accomplish a project without the appropriate set of tools and techniques. If you want to learn further about these tools and techniques, here’s a basics of project management program from Manipal ProLearn that may entice you and answer a lot of your queries.