8 Project Management Tools You Should Know
A list of 8 effective project management tools that project managers should know, including Gantt chart, PERT chart, WBS diagram, calendar, timeline, status table, HOQ, and mind map. Learn the advantages of each tool and choose one best suit your work.
Project management involves with effective plans and systematically organization of work. It includes defining the project objectives, making schedules and assigning tasks, in order to accomplish a successful goal. There are many tools that make project management more effective and efficient. The commonly used ones are Gantt chart, PERT chart, mind map, calendar, timeline, WBS chart, status table, and fishbone diagram. These tools are all incredibly useful for visualizing the scope of a project. You can choose one best fit your own situation.
Project Management Tool - Gantt Chart
Gantt chart can help in planning and managing projects by breaking a large project into a series of smaller tasks in an organized way. Each task has an expected time duration which is presented by a horizontal bar whose left end indicates the beginning date of the task and whose right end indicates the completion date of the task. Tasks may run sequentially, in parallel or overlapping. During the process, important events can be highlighted as "Milestone" which is marked by a small diamond shape.
From a Cantt chart, you can clearly recognize what the sub tasks are and when each task begins and ends. Presenting a visual overview of the project, you can easily track the progress by seeing what should be happening at any stage in the project.
How to Create a Gantt Chart
Gantt Chart Video Tutorial
Project Management Tool - PERT Chart
PERT is shorted for project evaluation and review technique. It's a primary project management tool used for planning and scheduling entire projects and tracking the implementation phase. PERT chart can also show task division, time allocation, and starting and ending dates. Unlike Gantt chart who uses bars to represent tasks, PERT chart displays information as a network model that uses boxes to represent tasks and arrows to present dependencies between tasks. The layout of a PERT chart makes the relationships between activities easier to see than with Gantt charts. But the disadvantage is it can be difficult to follow when there are many complex dependencies and tasks.
How to make a PERT chart
Project Management Tool - Calendar
Calendar is the date or time based project management tool which is the easiest to understand. It is more suitable for personal time management, to help better manage your daily, weekly or monthly time schedule. The outstanding part of this tool is that it has more space for adding to do lists. It will remind you what to do on each day and make sure things can be finished before deadline.
Video Tutorial - How to Use a Calendar
Project Management Tool - Timeline
Timeline is also a visual project management tool help in tracking project progress. With a time line, you can clearly visualize by what time a task needs to be done. It is a more sequential way at looking at tasks over time. However, timeline is not as popular as Gantt chart since it has limitations in showing task dependencies and the completion state.
Video Tutorial - How to Make a Timeline
Project Management Tool - WBS Chart
WBS, also known as work break down structure, is a common project management tool helps visualize the scope of work by breaking a project into individual components that can be effectively scheduled. The WBS is a tree style structure with the overall task on the top; followed by project sections and further into individual tasks. WBS examples are similar to a flowchart that has its components linked logically. The components may be explained in text, or in boxes.
How to Create a WBS for Project Management
Project Management Tool - Mind Map
Mind map is also a powerful tool to manage your projects. Unlike other project management tools, mind map is less formal, yet more flexible. You can use it to break complex project into smaller tasks, manage to do lists or analyze problems. With a mind map, you can insert pictures, link files and drill down to focus on a specific part, which other tools couldn't do.
Video - Mind Map Introduction
Project Management Tool - Status Table
Status table is an effective tool which is used track project progress. It doesn't contain too much detail of the project duration and task relations, but with more focus on the status and complete progress. A great function of the status table is that it can also include people who take charge of the task, so that project leaders can better evaluate employee performance and know who to reach when there is a problem.
How to Create a Status Table
Project Management Tool - HOQ
HOQ, representing house of quality, is a quality management tool used to define the relationship between customer desires and the product capabilities. It's a tool used in QFD to facilitate group decision-making. Though looks complicated, it's easy to create through Edraw. All the components in the FOQ, including the roof, matrix, legend box, and markers, are already included in the software. You can create a quality HOQ diagram with no efforts.
Video Tutorial - How to Create an HOQ