Project Management involves a complete documentation and understanding of various aspects of the business like functional requirements, Hardware/networking requirements, identifying right resources, procurement planning, risk mitigation and training requirements. It is an end-to-end planning from conceptualizing to execute and also backup planning. All these key aspects come with their own set of tools. Hence a Project Manager’s toolkit should be fully encompassed with various tools to help plan, deploy, monitor and run the project successfully.
Let’s have a look at some of the critical tools that are required for Project Planning:
Project Charter: When a project is in its conceptualizing phase, there are many disparities amongst people, different departments and even clients sometimes. To make things simpler and easier to understand, the Project manager takes a lead and starts documenting everything from an understanding of the project to Risks involved in any amount of delays noticed etc. Documentation also involves procurement or the creation of SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and SOWs (Scope of Work) for better clarification of all stakeholders.
Network diagram: Network diagram is a very critical tool used in Project Management to represent a sequence of activities that need to be performed and their dependencies on each other. There is certain assumption taken into account during the preparation of the Network Diagram. One – that no activity begins before all pending activities are closed and the second assumption is that the project should have a single start event and a single end event. The various tasks that need to be performed are mentioned in the Network Diagram and each task is allocated 4 dates – the first two dates being the release dates the last two would be their end dates. The allocation of dates will help in tracking timelines.
Critical Path method: The CPM is again a very important tool to gauge if the defined tasks are being performed as per schedule. No Delay can be afforded in the Critical Path activities and a close check is done by the Project Manager to ensure the timelines are met in this case.
Gantt Chart: This tool acquires its name from its designer Henry Laurence Gantt. This is a graphical representation tool displaying the planning, scheduling and tracking progress of the project. It is made in an excel sheet representing bar charts for timelines and different color coding legends are used to identify at a glance the project’s on schedule, under TAT or Delayed activities. Such a graphical and color-coded representation of information can be very visually appealing, moreover, anyone can quickly have a identify the areas which seem to be a concern and need immediate actions.
Work Breakdown Structure: This is a simple hierarchical disintegration or breaks down of tasks. This tool is used to display what are the levels of tasks which need to be performed and allocate it as per respective stakeholders. Breaking up or defragmenting larger objectives into smaller tasks gives a clarity of what ground level activities need to be done; plus when the deliverables are attached to stakeholders, the responsibility quotient seeps in.
Project Procurement and Budgeting Tool: Any project, mostly EPC or Make-to-order projects require materials to complete the project. The project BOM/BOQ needs to be comprehensively identified and budget to be estimated based on historical cost of material costs. Similar costing exercise required for the human resources allocated to the project.
Conclusion: Project Management is an exhaustive task, which involved tying all loose ends and ensuring smooth transitioning from planning stage to delivery stage. And all this is absolutely impossible without having the right tools and the right amount of follow-up.