Project management involves effective planning and systematic work. There are many project management tool that can help with that. It includes defining project objectives, developing schedules and arranging tasks to achieve specific objectives.
There are many graphic tools to make the work of project management more effective and efficient. This article introduces the most popular tools for project managers to increase efficiency of project management.
1 Gantt chart
Gantt chart helps to plan and manage projects. It divides a large project into small parts and presents them in an organized way.
Each task has an expected completion time, represented by a horizontal bar, the left side represents the start date, and the right side represents the completion date. Tasks may be gradual or parallel, parallel means there is overlapping time. In the course of a project, important time points can be marked as milestones with a small diamond.
From a Gantt chart, you can clearly see what subtasks are and when each task starts and ends. Visualizing a project also makes it easy to understand what’s going on at each stage and track the progress of the project.
2 PERT charts
PERT is the abbreviation of project evaluation and review technique. It is one of the main project management tools used to plan and arrange the whole project schedule and track the implementation phase.
PERT Chart can also show task division, time allocation and start and end dates. Unlike Gantt charts, which use bars to represent tasks, PERT charts use relational models to represent information, boxes to represent tasks, and arrows to represent relationships between tasks.
The layout form of PERT Chart makes the relationship between activities more obvious than Gantt chart. But its disadvantage is that the task is more difficult to follow up, because there are too many connections and tasks.
Calendar is a time-based, easy to understand project management tool. This is more appropriate for personal time management and can help you better manage your daily, weekly or monthly time schedule.
The beauty of this tool is that it has a lot of space to add to-do lists. It will remind you of what you need to do every day and make sure it’s done by the deadline.
Timeline is also a visual project management tool to help track project progress. Through the timeline, you can directly see when a task needs to be completed. This is a more orderly way to understand the task time. However, the timeline is not as popular as the Gantt chart because it has limitations in showing task contact and completion status.
Diagram WBS, namely work breakdown structure, is a common project management tool. It helps to visualize the work by decomposing the project into components that can be arranged effectively.
WBS is a kind of tree structure. The total task is at the top, decomposed into sub projects, and then further decomposed into independent work packages. WBS is similar to flow chart. And the components are logically connected. The components of the work packages are explained in words or shapes. And these also known as WBS dictionary.
Map Mind maps are also very useful for project management. Unlike other project management tools, mind mapping is less formal and more flexible. You can use it to break down projects into small tasks, manage to-do lists, or analyze problems.
With mind mapping, you can insert images, link files, hide branches to focus on a certain part, which other project management tools can’t do.
7 State table
The state table is very effective for tracking project progress. It doesn’t include the details of project duration and task relationship, but it pays more attention to the project status and completion process.
The excellent function of the project state table is that it also includes the head of the task, so that the project leader can better assess the performance of the staff and know who is responsible for the problem.
In summary, this article introduces 8 most popular and useful project management graphical tools for project managers, and I hope it would benefit some project managers who are reading this article in their real life project managements in some degree.