Common Supporting Tools For Project Management

November 10, 2010

The Job

The term Project Management is often defined as the science of organizing, planning and managing the available resources of a particular organization to successfully complete a project, which aims to meet the organization’s goals and objectives. This type of system will be useful in ensuring the timely and effective output of a project. Furthermore, the implementation of such a system will give you greater productivity in every project. The productivity that can be achieved is one of great potential and is influential in completing the project from beginning to end. [1]

As with any job and/or project certain tools are needed to complete the task. For example one of the most common jobs performed during one’s lifetime is changing a tire, this unexpected task will happen at some point in time. As with any project unexpected issues and changes will occur, and a way to manage these instances is by having some essential tools in place at the time of concern.

The Tools

Project management software is a term covering many types of software, including scheduling, cost control and budget management, resource allocation, collaboration software, communication, quality management and documentation or administration systems, which are used to deal with the complexity of large projects. [2]

Along with the for mention tools other types of tools that are used by project managers to improve their chances of success include document templates, registers, planning software, modeling software, audit checklists and review forms. Ideally not all projects are the same which give the headway for many different types of tools to be used to reach a project success. [3]

Common Supporting Tools

No matter the project or the goal being achieved there are common tools that are universal and useful to complete the task successfully. One of the most vital tool that can make or break the project that is:

Scheduling\Planning Tools

One of the most common purposes is to schedule a series of events or tasks and the complexity of the schedule can vary considerably depending on how the tool is used. In project management, a schedule consists of a list of a project‘s terminal elements with intended start and finish dates. Terminal elements are the lowest element in a schedule, which is not further subdivided. Those items are often estimated in terms of resource requirements, budget and duration, linked by dependencies and scheduled, dealing with uncertainties in the estimates of the duration of each task. [4]

Cost Control and Budget Management

As with any project, one of the major factors is staying within the financial boundaries of the project. Many times enhancements, unseen foreseen costs and miss management can cause issues surrounding the costs

During the execution of a project, procedures for project control and record keeping become indispensable tools to managers and other participants in the construction process. These tools serve the dual purpose of recording the financial transactions that occur as well as giving managers an indication of the progress and problems associated with a project. [5]

Overruns in particular cost categories signal the possibility of problems and give an indication of exactly what problems are being encountered. Expense oriented construction planning and control focuses upon the categories included in the final cost estimation. This focus is particular relevant for projects with few activities and considerable repetition such as grading and paving roadways.

Communication

One of the most fundamental tools of any project is that of communication. The value that exists is priceless and many times is overlooked.

Fragmentation of project management among different specialists may be necessary, but good communication and coordination among the participants is essential to accomplish the overall goals of the project. New information technologies can be instrumental in this process, especially the Internet and specialized Extranets. [5]

Communication of data and quality assurance has particular significance from the viewpoint of a manager, but not necessarily for individual participants. [5]

Conclusion

Regardless of the software being used and the type of project management style being conveyed three essential supporting tools that are needed are: Scheduling, Cost and Communication. When using these common supporting tools in an effective way the odds of the project being successfully are improved.

References:

1. http://www.webdesignbooth.com/project-management-tools/ [1]

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_management_software [2]

3. www.method123.com/project management guidebook [3]

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schedule_(project_management) [4]

5. http://pmbook.ce.cmu.edu/12_Cost_Control,_Monitoring,_and_Accounting.html [5]

By: Douglas

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4 Responses to “Common Supporting Tools For Project Management”

  1. Paul McGuire said

    This was a good summary article. I would like to be able to use a tool that at least integrates time tracking with the scheduling and budget functions. Ideally, the project artifacts would also become part of the communications tool. Tools that do portfolio-level management are out there also to give the PM a bigger picture look if, like in most organizations, resources aren’t dedicated to a single project. Finally, whatever time or money is spent implementing and learning a tool only brings value to the extent that good processes exist within the organization. All the tools in the world cannot help bad processes.

    • Mike Gann said

      “All the tools in the world cannot help bad processes.” Indeed. The PM space is bristling with tools both free and ‘premium’. However, if you can’t effectively select the best ones and put them together in some meaningful way to best serve your organization’s goals within a project management framework, you have wasted a substantial amount of time, money, and effort.

  2. Joey Beck said

    I’m glad you mentioned a communcation tool as many project teams often communicate on too many tools resulting in lost data and information.

  3. Mike Gann said

    I have to disagree with footnote 5 a little. Communication is quite important to a manager – sometimes to an extreme extent in which you find yourself in a host of unwanted meetings or answering single-line emails that consist of “Thoughts?” However, communication should be just as important between individual team elements. If you can resolve an issue outside of a meeting with your manager by addressing the team directly, then do it – you’ll save time and can get back to actually working on the project. A team functions more effectively if the paths of communication, both formal and informal, are open at all times.

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