Dear Baird’s CMC,
I hear many people talking about how project management can make the difference between a project’s success and failure. My question is, how exactly? What are the tools one uses in the field of project management? How do these tools help in getting projects completed on time?
– Wanting to be Type A
We turned to our project manager extraordinaire, Chris Nial, for some tips on good project management. Chris has travelled the world for a multitude of Baird’s CMC projects, conducting project management trainings with clients as well as putting systems in place that ensure their projects are completed on time and within budget. He says there are several tools used in the art of project management. Some of the important ones are:
- Project charter: The project charter is a static document that sets out the agenda for the project. It confirms who the client is and sets out the budget, time allocated for the project and nature of deliverables to be provided. A project plan is formulated which sets out the course of action needed to successfully complete the project. The project plan breaks down the project into a series of tasks, some of which are dependent and the others independent of each other. For example, the marketing and advertising of a certain product may only be done after obtaining appropriate government licenses. So the marketing department is dependent on the legal department and the government for the start of its task.
- GANTT Chart: The GANTT chart is a visual representation of the project plan. The GANTT chart visually shows the tasks required to complete the project, the time allocated to them and the interdependencies between the various tasks. The GANTT chart helps the project manager determine the status of the various tasks at any given point of time. If the project needs to be completed sooner, the project manager could look at some independent tasks and start work on them at the same time. Unlike the project charter, the GANTT chart is a dynamic document that could change shape everyday by factoring in externalities like holidays, people going on vacations and extra requirements from the client.
- The critical path – The critical path method (CPM) constructs a model of the project including a list of all activities needed to complete the project, the time that each activity will take and the dependencies between these activities. The critical path is the sequence of project network activities that add up to the longest overall duration. This determines the shortest time possible to complete the project. Any delay of an activity on the critical path directly impacts the planned project completion date.
Use these tools and you’ll be well on your way to ensuring a successful and efficient project experience. For more insights and thoughts on project management, you can read a wonderful article by our colleague Aditya Bahadur titled: A Method in the Madness: Why Project Management is Integral to Any Project. He writes, “People from creative fields – journalism, public relations, writing, advertising – can be stunningly innovative when it comes to their deliverables yet disorganised from a project management perspective. This is where the value of project management becomes apparent – project management experts and systems help complete a project satisfactorily, on time and within budget.”