Alexandra Faunce October 31, 2020 Project Management
They are a fundamental tool in a project manager`s toolkit. However, an unseasoned project manager can find that they can take over the project and result in reduced control. How so? In this article we will look at their potential pitfalls and provide some tips and strategies for ensuring successful project management. Gantt charts are, after all, just one of many ways of presenting the project planning and actual data that has been input.
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.
A methodology guides an organization or an individual from start to finish. A project management methodology probes deep in the various steps of the project management life cycle. It is a checklist of tasks to be performed in the various steps of the plan. The project management methodology gives the manager a definite control over the scheme, allowing him or her to maneuver the team toward the destination called success. A project without a methodology would be a train running without tracks. It further allows the project manager to standardize the protocols of a plan, thereby providing a general structure of the steps, which can be followed in all other future projects.
Regardless of terminology a company uses, the purpose of the WBS is to organize the project into various deliverables or summary reporting levels. Some of the traditional stage (or phase) levels in IS projects include project definition, analysis, design, development, testing, implementing, and project review. Whether a project has standard levels or not, the main purpose of these higher levels is to group the detail tasks, allowing project administrators to more easily track the project`s progress.
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.