By Vanessa Kearney
Project Planning Is The Key To Success
Poor management is the number one reason that projects fail, so it’s imperative that before undertaking any project, a planning stage is undertaken. Being able to visualise the process that a project entails is essential to ensure problems and pitfalls are avoided and the project works to the deadline. That’s where project management charts get their power – because they disentangle varyingly complex procedures and present them in a graphic, easy to understand structure, they ensure the whole team can communicate well and the project will be a success.
The Gantt Chart
Henry Gantt was a mechanical engineer and management consultant, and his namesake chart is an essential tool in project management. Gantt described his chart as a “method of scheduling and recording work” and it gives the easiest at-a-glance understanding of whether a task is on schedule or running behind.
The Gantt chart is a form of bar chart. Each bar on the chart stretches horizontally across an axis that indicates a duration of time – this can be days, weeks or months depending on how long the project, or the component of a project, is expected to take. The bar itself can then indicate a percentage of completion of this particular component.
Walter Hoffman, project manager at Brit student and 1Day2write says that “the chart is essential for efficient project tracking. Because it demonstrates how individual components of any project are processed, project managers can easily understand the interaction of the project’s components, how risks of falling behind may arise, and how to divide time spent on tasks.”
The Flow Chart
Flowcharts are an essential tool for any project manager, and they help to visualise the project in order to reveal ways to increase efficiency. The way a flowchart offers a logical breakdown of tasks and the way these tasks can be ordered.
All planning processes have a logical momentum – from the stages of development and evaluation through to the outcomes. The flow chart’s infographical power to show the relationship between these stages allows resources to be carefully allocated, a budget to be designed and the scheduling of the project to take place. A flow chart allows these processes to be undertaken in the most efficient way possible, and everyone involved in the process can easily see its structure. A flowchart is essential to oil the wheels of project communication, and can be used in combination with a Gantt chart to develop an efficient process.
The Cause And Effect Chart
The analysis of cause and effect is an essential component of project management, the cause and effect chart is a valuable tool for breaking this down. Harold Dawson, business writer at Next coursework and Writemyx, explains “cause and effect is a seemingly linear process, but it often has many hidden elements that need to be clarified for a project to proceed smoothly. The cause and effect chart, also known as the Ishikawa diagram or the Fishbone Diagram (because of how its structure resembles that of a gutted fish) allows for the graphic arrangement of a variety of causes and effects, to reveal the process that lead towards your desired outcomes.”
Working backwards through the use of a team brainstorming session to generate all the possible causes of a problem allows unexpected issues to become clear, and setting these down in a Fishbone Diagram creates an easy infographic on how to avoid these issues as the project develops.
A Work Breakdown Structure
A work breakdown structure (WBS) is an incredibly valuable tool in providing a clear overview of how the hierarchy of tasks that come together to form your project should be assessed. A good WBS entails the division of the project into its individual components, which can then be further divided into their subcomponents. Once this has been done, it’s easy to visualise the project’s development every step of the way.
One of the main bonuses of having a work breakdown structure for your project is how it allows all the diverse teams working on the project to see how their work relates to one another. This ensures streamlined communication that will allow the project to be managed smoothly and efficiently.
All these charts are essential for efficient project management and what they all have in common is that they allow every team member to visualise the process. Whether that’s a hierarchy of activities or a cause and effect identifying certain problems, having this visual element is essential to efficient project management.