Heike Moeller November 10, 2020 Project Management
Managers plan, execute and monitor all components of a project. They usually need tools to assist them in completing and delivering the project efficiently. Companies rely on key tools in the project management process to ensure that each task is handled satisfactorily. Project management tools are a necessity in any organization. They help keep track of all the aspects of a project to ensure it is completed on time and within allocated budget. With proper management of a project, a desired outcome is produced in a timely and cost-effective manner. And a good project management tool, whether it is a desktop or web-based solution, helps to accomplish this objective. It will define the project`s tasks, costs, scope, schedules and team members.
Prior to creating the project schedule the project manager must have a work breakdown structure (WBS), an effort estimate for each task, and a list of resources with availability for each resource. Once these data are established a project scheduling tool can automatically do much of the tedious work of calculating the schedule. However, before a project manager can use such tools, he should have an understanding over concepts like WBS, dependencies, resource allocation, critical paths etc. These are the real keys to planning a successful project.
To start we will be clear that we are not going to deal here with repetitive implementation / rollout projects where a template plan has been refined over a series of projects and becomes a standard checklist for project management (for example for COTS - commercial off-the-shelf software). This article is about those one off (or initial template try-out) projects. These projects may be within organisations small, medium and large.
Can Project Managers prevent projects from slipping? Ask a techie to come up with a schedule for a specific list of activities, and more often than not, he/she will present a fairly accurate estimate. Some activities might be underestimated, others overestimated, but overall, the plan will be fairly accurate. However, something happens to these estimates between the time the techie writes them down and the time the Project Manager publishes a baseline project schedule. That "something" is why projects slip.
Most larger organisations have well developed and run IT departments. They usually have formal project offices with established plan templates and standards, with project office staff and automated plan analysis systems (for example seeking orphan tasks / missing dependencies and so on to measure overall `plan quality`). Smaller organisations - for example, `IT solutions houses` - may lack this level of sophistication but will certainly use detailed project plans.
Most team members often feel overwhelmed with the prospect of having to worry about timelines and tasks they need to accomplish over the duration of the work effort. Helping them to stay focused and organized is a key skill that a PM must bring to the table when running a project.