SkillSET Blog
Advice For Pros · August 22, 2022 · AUTHOR: Darwin Pelea

4 Tools Every Project Manager Needs To Utilize

The landscape of project management changes as the work world changes. New tools and technologies are designed to make project managers' jobs more accessible and efficient.

From project management software to online collaboration tools, there is a wide range of options available to project managers today. Selecting the right tools for your team can make a big difference in the success of your projects. In this article, we will explore some of the most popular project management tools and their key features & benefits.

Why are Project management tools important?

Project management tools can help you to manage your projects more efficiently. They can help you manage your projects by providing a way to organize your information, such as schedules, deadlines, and budget information. You can also use project management tools to track the progress of each project and ensure that it is on track.

It is not just projected that you can manage with project management tools. Many also have features like emailing your team members or keeping up with the latest industry news. These features make these tools very useful in any business environment.

Some popular project management tools include Microsoft Project, Basecamp, and Asana.

Best Project management tools

Gantt chart

This Gantt chart visualizes your project timeline and the relationships between your various work items. Businesses can keep track of their planned schedule and budget using Gantt charts. They can identify delays, deviations from the project plan, and deviations from the program. The Gantt chart also helps identify the critical tasks that will ensure your project is completed on time if things don't go according to plan.

Project management relies heavily on Gantt charts when planning. They provide a comprehensive breakdown of the work breakdown structure and assist in allocating resources, whether it is time, money, or people. Using this tool, you can map out how work items are interconnected, prioritize critical tasks and reduce scope creep.

Gantt chart features:

  • Team collaboration: Gantt charts are a popular project management tool for team collaboration. They help teams visualize the progress of a project and see who is working on what tasks.

  • Resource management: Gantt charts also help with resource management. You can see which tasks are taking up the most time and resources. It helps you to allocate your team's time and resources better.

  • Task dependencies: Gantt charts allow you to see the dependencies between tasks. It helps understand the sequence of tasks and avoid potential bottlenecks in the project.

  • Deadlines: Gantt charts help to keep your project on track by showing deadlines for each task. It helps to ensure that the project is completed on time.

  • Multiple project views: You can see your project from different perspectives and understand how it fits into the big picture.

  • Progress tracking: The Gantt chart is a powerful tool that you can use to track the progress of a project. Additionally, it can help you identify potential bottlenecks and areas of risk. Additionally, it can help you identify potential bottlenecks and areas of risk.

  • Resource allocation: The Gantt chart can track the allocation of resources to tasks. It helps ensure that tasks are appropriately resourced and that no resources are over-allocated.

Gantt charts Pros:

There are many advantages to using Gantt charts, including the following:

  • Complex projects can be planned and scheduled using Gantt charts.

  • Gantt charts provide a clear visual representation of the progress of a project.

  • You can use Gantt charts to track and communicate the progress of a project to project team members and stakeholders.

  • Gantt charts can identify potential risks and issues with a project.

Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) Chart

PERT stands for Program Evaluation Review Technique, and it is a tool for planning and tracking in project management that helps estimate the amount of time it will take to fulfill a project's objectives. It is used for scheduling and coordinating team members as well.

Project managers use a PERT chart to plan projects when the duration of activities is uncertain. Project management professionals assign three-time estimates for each activity (optimistic, most likely, and pessimistic). The PERT chart consists of two main components: Nodes represent project milestones and are represented by circles or boxes in the diagram. In contrast, arrows represent tasks it must complete for a milestone to be achieved.

Features of PERT chart

  • Task dependencies: PERT charts map out dependencies between tasks in a project. In other words, PERT charts show which you must complete tasks before other tasks can begin. It is helpful because it allows project managers to see which tasks are critical to the project's success and which you can complete tasks in parallel.

  • Task Duration: PERT charts also show the estimated duration of each task. It is helpful because it lets project managers see which tasks will take the longest and plan accordingly.

  • Task Order: PERT charts show the order in which You must complete tasks. It is helpful because it allows project managers to sequence the tasks in the most efficient way possible.

  • Setting milestones: A PERT chart can help you identify the major tasks needed to finish the project. It can help set deadlines and milestones.

  • Reporting: A PERT chart can be used to generate reports showing the project's status and the tasks that have been completed.

  • Gantt chart: The PERT chart can be used to create a Gantt chart. This chart can visualize your project timeline and ensure that all tasks are appropriately scheduled.

Pros of PERT chart:

  • can help reduce project risks.

  • can help improve project coordination.

  • can help improve project scheduling and planning.

  • can help improve project estimation and cost management.

  • can help enhance the quality of project control.

Work Breakdown Structure

Project planning starts with the Work Breakdown Structure, which breaks your project goal into actionable steps. Using a WBS, your end goal is broken down into stages that can be further subdivided into tasks and subtasks. Doing so allows you to plan every aspect of your project without leaving anything to chance. As a result, you can set the planned constraints for your project based on the required breakdown of time and resources.

You can accomplish your project's planning and execution phases in less time with a WBS. The work is divided into parts that make up a whole, which makes tracking and managing the work easier.

Work Breakdown Structure Features:

  • Hierarchy: The work breakdown structure is organized into a hierarchy, with each level representing a different level of detail. It allows you to see the big picture and then drill down into the details as needed.

  • Work package sizing: The WBS can be used to size the work packages, which can help estimate the project's overall size and scope.

  • Sequencing of work packages: The work breakdown structure features a sequencing of work packages, which helps to ensure that the project is completed in a logical order. It ensures that all necessary work is completed before moving on to the next work package.

  • Mutually exclusive: It is essential that elements in a WBS at a particular level be mutually exclusive, i.e., their deliverables and work must not overlap in any way, which reduces the likelihood of miscommunication and duplication.

  • Outcome-focused: Beginners need to understand that WBS is based on deliverables, not the activities they need to complete to get there. Moreover, every element should be described as a noun, not a verb.

  • 100% rule: The 100% rule is a crucial feature of work breakdown structures. This rule states that the work breakdown structure must include 100% of the work required to complete a project. It helps to ensure that no job is overlooked or forgotten.

Work Breakdown Structure Pros:

There are several pros to using a work breakdown structure, which include:

  • Improved clarity and understanding of the project.

  • more efficient use of resources.

  • better communication between team members.

  • more accurate estimation of project timelines.

  • reduced risks of project failure.

Lessons Learned Reports

Feedback from previous clients can provide valuable insight into how the project went and what went wrong, allowing project managers to plan more effectively. Regular lessons learned in meetings are equally important to written reports. Lessons learned reports mean nothing if they cannot be implemented without discussions and proper implementation. The team can brainstorm on mistakes and implement any changes as they arise.

Lessons learned are divided into three phases: analysis, storage, and retrieval. After collecting data, It must identify a root cause for each lesson. As a result, the team can determine how you can make improvements. A shared drive or cloud-based solution should be used to archive all lesson-learned reports. You should use keyword search capabilities to make retrieval easier. Furthermore, you can use kick-off meetings to take advantage of them.

Features of Lessons Learned

  • Contact information and Project information: This is basic information about the project, including the project name, sponsor, manager, and team members. It's also important to include contact information in case anyone needs to follow up on the lessons learned.

  • Background and context: This section gives some background on the project, including the problem or opportunity that prompted the project, the project goals, and the project timeline. This information helps provide context for the lessons learned.

  • Project's summary: a brief overview, highlighting the main objectives and goals.

  • Lessons learned: This is the essential section of the report, as it details the key lessons learned during the project.

  • Recommendations: This section guides avoiding or mitigating the risks identified in the Lessons Learned section.

  • Action items: This section outlines the actions that need to be taken to implement the recommendations from the previous section.

Pros of Lessons Learned:

There are several key benefits to writing and reviewing lessons learned reports.

  • It allows organizations to document and share best practices within the organization.

  • It can help to improve performance and avoid repeating mistakes.

  • It can help to identify potential improvements or changes that you should make.

  • It can help to build a culture of continuous learning within the organization.

Final Thought

There are various tools available to project managers to help them plan, track, and communicate the progress of their projects. Some popular tools include project management software, Gantt charts, Lessons Learned Reports, Work Breakdown Structure, and PERT charts. By utilizing these tools, project managers can improve the efficiency and quality of their projects.

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