Project Management Techniques and Tools are an essential part of project management. Project management tools and techniques are precisely what make managing projects easier and more effective. Project managers, project management software and various aspects of project management carry their own toolbox within which lies an array of helpful and useful apparatuses that help projects to save on time and cost. Thus, the importance in Project Management cannot be ignored. The more complex project, the more scope there is for chaos.
Sinnaps, the online project planner possesses its own tools and techniques utilised to optimise the running of your project. Planning tools and techniques in management such as CPM, PERT, Kanban, Task dependencies and the Gantt-chat all form part of Sinnaps’ tools and will be discussed in this article.
Project Management Techniques and Tools
There exist many project management techniques that can be utilised to improve and optimise efficiency of project processes. In project management, everyone is familiar with one of the most basic tools- the Gantt Chart. It is a chart devised to plan the sequence of the activities of your project on its way to completion which also determines its timeline and resources needed. This tool is common and very useful if adapted correctly.
Sinnaps online project management app creates an adapted version of the traditional Gantt Chart to a more modern and user-friendly version along with the incorporation of various project planning techniques and tools. Sinnaps’ ‘Gantt-flow’ is an easy to use, visually appealing and updated tool that helps your project on its road to completion and success. Weeks are presented as 5 day working weeks, Monday-Friday.
With the help of other project management techniques and tools, such as PERT and CPM, which will be discussed in more detail later on, Sinnaps calculates automatically an optimised work path for your project plan based task dependencies, durations, dates and milestones.
Any time a change is introduced or something is added the Gantt-flow will update itself automatically to fit the new project plan and to also notify all those involved in the project with access to its dashboard.
Overall, Sinnaps’ Gantt-flow allows users to understand their project at a deeper level and increases organisation and efficiency dramatically. Although Sinnaps presents itself as a variation of the traditional Gantt Chart, there still exist similarities.
In the same way that is done on a traditional Gantt Chart, one of the classic techniques of project management, Sinnaps’ Gantt-flow lays out activities horizontally according to their start dates. Some activities within a project allow for a range of start dates. Sinnaps places these activities at their earliest start date possible so as to allow the PM to postpone them if needed.
Different to the traditional Gantt Chart, Sinnaps also lays out activities vertically based on their criticality and impact on the Project’s critical path. In this way, users can identify that the activities listed at the top of their project schedules are critical to the project and as they move down, the activities’ criticality decreases. This critical path inclusion is one of the key project design tools and techniques and a feature of Sinnaps’ Gantt-flow.
Overall, one of Sinnaps’ project planning techniques, the Gantt-flow, allows for the easy observation of:
- The project’s critical path on the top line of the Gantt-flow.
- Task dependencies where tasks are placed directly below each other.
- Project bottlenecks where tasks are isolated.
- Comfortable activities that are placed lower on the Gantt-flow allowing for more freedom in postponing them if needs be, which allows for effective prioritisation.
What is PERT?
Project control techniques such as PERT monitor time. Time means a lot when it comes to managing a project. PERT (Program Evaluation Review Technique) is a project management planning tool used to calculate the amount of realistic time it will take to finish a project. This is a tool used in Sinnaps online project management app and can also be utilised to calculate the duration of individual tasks as well as the whole project, which allows for team coordination and organisation to become more effective.
Planning tools and Project Management techniques used by managers often include PERT. PERT was first created in the form of a chart to help with the management of weapons and defence projects for the US Army in the 1950s. Simultaneously the private sector gave rise to a similar method called Critical path, which we have already discussed.
PERT and Critical Path have many similarities for the fact that they are both tools utilised to help visualise the timeline of project work. PERT, however, allows you to create different time estimates. These 3 estimates include:
- The shortest possible time each task will take.
- The most probable amount of time.
- The longest amount of time each task may take if things do not go to plan.
PERT is calculated backward from a fixed end date since contractor deadlines typically cannot be moved.
Sinnaps online project management software includes PERT so that PMs can interrelate tasks according to allocated resources. PERT serves as a warning system of task dependencies. It really comes into play when the project is complex with many tasks depending on the completion of one other task.
When a project is complex, we need to visualise all the activities of the project in a clear manner and each of their interdependencies. A Gantt Chart by itself won’t serve as the most effective tool as it generally just lays out activities in list-form. PERT and CPM included with a Gantt Chart, as is the case with Sinnaps’ updated Gantt-flow allows for these tools and techniques to complement each other and produce a useful and effective visualisation of how your project is to be carried out.
CPM- The Critical Path Method
Sinnaps Gantt-flow is a modernised and updated version of the traditional Gantt Chart for the above-mentioned reason and also for the fact the it includes a project’s critical path. The vertical order of activities in the Gantt flow defines the criticality of a certain activity. Using the CPM tool, teams can understand the criticality of each task by the height at which it is placed. To calculate the critical path, Sinnaps considers the duration, dependencies between all activities, and date constraints that you could have defined in the planning.
Modern software includes project monitoring tools and project management techniques. In the Sinnaps app, it is easy to identify the project’s critical path. There is a top line in the activities painted across that says, ‘critical path’ so that you can see your project’s critical path with ease.
A further benefit of Sinnaps’ use of the CPM tool in its project management software is that the critical path is kept up-to-date and updated automatically whenever a change is introduced. Activities and the criticalities are repositioned accordingly at the top of your project’s schedule.
In addition to this, Sinnaps also prioritises the rest of the activities vertically. Using this specific tool will allow you to identify the tasks that have a significant impact on your project’s critical path which will mean a smaller float. CPM is an example of project management planning and control techniques that improves a project’s running.
Certain activities and tasks are vital in a project’s completion. CPM allows for effective prioritisation of such tasks and activities. This helps PMs and team members to avoid bottlenecks or identify bottlenecks, and place specific importance on tasks that cannot be delayed or that need specific resources or that have many other tasks dependant on their completion. Across the various tools and techniques used in project management, the CPM tool is one of project management’s most effective techniques.
Free online Project Management course
Learn to coordinate teams, manage projects, optimise resources and anticipate risks in 15 days.
The Importance of Task Dependencies
Project management principles and techniques are based on the optimisation of projects. The tools and techniques of project management need to consider task dependencies and their impact of a project’s process. In any project, there will exist multiple activities. In some projects, there are more than others. Task or activity dependence is a very common occurrence and something that holds a particular significance towards a project’s successful completion or failure. A linked or interrelated activity or task is one that cannot be started until the activity or task previous is completed.
Task dependencies are mostly common in complex projects. The truth is, most projects will see task dependencies and interdependences and so for this reason, cannot be overlooked as something to be managed. It is important to reflect significantly upon task relationships and to apply appropriate tools to manage them correctly.
Sinnaps uses tools such as PERT and CPM to automatically calculate an optimised work path, considering the duration, date limitations and dependencies of the activities.
An activity that you link to another will always be planned behind. If you link an activity to several others, it will always be behind the last of its dependencies.
First select the activity you want to link. Then click the arrows of the activities to which you would like to link the activity. It’s as simple as that and Sinnaps calculates and updates all the complicated stuff for you!
If activity 11, for example is linked to activity 10, it cannot be planned before the completion of activity 10. A grey strip will show the slack in planning and won’t allow you to begin the activity until the previous is completed.
To be able to move the activity to an earlier date we can do one of three things:
- Eliminate the dependency
- Reduce the duration of activity 10
- Advance the start of the project
Whenever possible, Sinnaps combines fixed dates with dependencies. However, at a time when both are incompatible, dependence will always predominate on the fixed date. When this happens, Sinnaps will show a sign indicating the name of the activity that has gone to automatic mode or that its positioning is such due to its dependencies.
Kanban is a method and tool used in project management that helps to monitor and manage projects with an emphasis placed on continual delivery and avoiding over-burdening the project team. It is a tool used in project management to help teams work together more effectively. Sinnaps utilises the Kanban project management tool to further optimise your projects.
Kanban is one of the techniques of planning in management. It is a process based on three main principles:
- Visualisation of what you need to do today (workflow): seeing activities in context of each other can be very informative.
- Limit the amount of work in progress (WIP): this helps balance the flow-based approach so teams do not over-commit.
- Enhance flow: when something is finished, the next highest thing from the backlog sees its turn.
Kanban promotes continuous collaboration and encourages active, ongoing learning and improving by defining the best possible team workflow. One of the best advantages of software designed for complex projects can also be used for simpler projects, with shorter activity durations and with fewer resources.
Many companies have been using this technique that originated in Japan and is a form of project monitoring techniques. Kanban (from Japanese: Kanban, where “kan” stands for “visual”, and “ban” stands for “card” or “board”) is a complete production tracking technique based on a dashboard displaying tasks that are completed, those that are ongoing and those that are to be completed. Agile methodologies employ Kanban and essentially it is what Sinnaps bases itself upon.
Sinnaps implements Kanban on the home page or the dashboard. Often, a PM may be working on more than one project at once. A quick and clear visualisation of how your projects are doing keeps them monitored and helps not to waste too much time. Project management techniques and methodologies such as Kanban to visually portray how project processes are working.
Overall, tools and techniques for a vital part of any project planning software as demonstrated by Sinnaps online project manager. Tools differ across type, use and usefulness. One toolbox can be very different from another. However, the important thing to remember is that the right mix of tools is needed. Project management tool and techniques can and should complement each other in order to optimise the effectiveness and success of your project.
This is precisely what Sinnaps aims to do with its specific array of project management tools and techniques. Each of the tools and techniques such as PERT, CPM, Gantt or Kanban, is applied to the specific needs of each project and the advantages are numerous, try it today and see for yourself! 😊