The role of a project manager is quite critical in any organization. Even a little lack of coordination and communication can completely derail a project and hamper its overall projects. If you look at the rate of companies successfully running projects, you will be surprised to know that the number is quite low. Management of project involves organization of resources, cost, time and quality so there are endless factors to focus on. A project needs to juggle between resources, deadlines, milestones, budget, potential risks and more. Keeping a tab on so many factors can be really nerve-wracking and it is easy to miss out on things. This is the only reason why only a few handfuls of organizations are able to successfully deliver projects.
The key to a better project management is being able to work smartly. There are several tools and utilities present in the market that can reduce the complications involved in project management. Most problems in any project are faced at the initial stage that involves planning and set-up. Once these things are streamlined, the project can flow smoothly. To make the initial phase of the project smoother, a project manager needs to be well versed with chart and diagrams that define project flow.
Here are 10 types of charts and diagrams for better project management:
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1. SWOT Analysis
An analysis of Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threat, SWOT is the best chart for stakeholders of an organization. It gives them an insight into all the potential risks and strengths of the project in the planning stage. By giving an overall picture of the project, it helps project managers plan to fulfill the requirements. SWOT analysis also gives the project manager an idea of what the competitors are doing and how their own strategies need to be competent. It is a simple yet effective process to improve the overall project management. This method can also be used for individual tasks to gain better efficiency.
2. Gantt Chart
It is one of the most popular chart diagrams for project planning and management. Gantt chart is a type of bar chart used to display project schedule activities. It shows all the key stages involved in any project, thus giving the basic breakdown structure. Gantt chart is usually used by project managers to get a rough estimate of the time required for key tasks of a project. It can also be used to show dependencies between tasks and offers a quick overview to project stakeholders. If the project in the discussion is complicated with a lot of tasks and subtasks, using Gantt Charts may become a little difficult. Project managers use Gantt charts to track results, increase communication, forecast timelines and increase productivity. To get a more clear idea, you can check some Gantt Chart templates here.
3. Pert Chart
A PERT, Program Evaluation Review Technique, was designed in the 1950s by the US Navy. These charts are used after the project planning has been completed. After project planning, every module in the project is broken down into tasks. These tasks form the basis of a PERT diagram. The basic objective of this diagram is to organize and manage complex activities by dividing them into tasks. With this diagram, project managers can visualize how long it will take to complete each task and distinguish between critical and non-critical tasks. The best part about PERT charts is that it allows showcasing parallel activities and also recognizes the minimum time required. This is a multipurpose tool and used by several efficient companies across the world.
4. Pareto Chart
Most project managers use graphs to display and interpret data. But sometimes, simple graphs do not help in important decision making as they do not display all information required to make a decision. This is where Pareto graph comes to the rescue of project managers. This graph is a combination of bar and line graphs. This graph can fit well into any kind of project management and is particularly used in Six Sigma analysis. Pareto Chart helps in proper communication between different teams.
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5. Cause & Effect Chart
A Cause and Effect Chart is also known as the fishbone diagram. It is basically a visualization tool that can be used in problem-solving in a project. It categorizes the potential causes that can be responsible for a problem. By identifying potential causes, it becomes easier to identify the root cause. In this diagram, the causes along with the effects are arranged graphically. It can also be used to categorize different ideas collected in a brainstorming session of a team. By getting an in-depth look into the problems, it is possible to generate effective solutions in a lesser amount of time.
6. Control Chart
A Control chart is also referred to as a process behavior chart. This chart shows the changes in the process over time. By getting an insight into the process changes, it is possible to spot problems and correct them. Project managers frequently use this chart in quality control processes. It also gives a way to control ongoing processes by searching for problems and correcting them. This chart is also used to determine the stability of the process. This chart is used to monitor the Schedule Performance Index (SPI) and Cost Performance Index (CPI). Know more how to create a Control chart here.
7. Matrix Diagram
These diagrams are used as a tool for quality management. The diagram represents the sequence of steps involved in a task, workflow or process. The diagram analyses data within a structure and shows the relationship between different information groups. This is one of the best ways to represent many-to-many relationships. It shows the relationship between groups of information, four groups maximum. It is possible to check which information groups are influencing a particular task. Matrix diagrams can be further classified into context diagrams, probability and impact matrix and more. As this diagram allows comparison of information, it plays an important role in decision making.
Improving project efficiency is always a cause of concern for project managers. Flowcharts help them get a clear picture of processes and work to improve their efficiencies. This chart graphically displays the objectives of a project and activities involved in those. The primary objective of a flowchart is to strengthen interpersonal communication required in project planning and monitoring. These charts can also be used to represent a step-by-step sequence of events. The arrows in a flowchart give the direction of flow. Flowcharts can be used independently for project planning for small projects. In the case of complex projects, flowcharts can be used in combination with Gantt charts for proper planning and timeline distribution of tasks. You can check how to create a basic flowchart here.
9. Work – Breakdown Structure
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Every project needs to be broken down into parts before execution is started by the team. This is basically what a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) does. It organizes the work into manageable sections and helps in identifying the deliverables in a project. Large tasks are broken down into subtasks for ease of understanding and give a clear definition of project requirements. In a WBS, there is no provision of defining dependencies and timelines. It provides a hierarchy of tasks so that project managers can create a project plan. It is used to schedule the work, determine the resources required for a project and organize the project into parts.
10. Timeline Schedule
As the name suggests, this chart diagram is used for graphically representing the project timeline. It is one of the tools that simplify complex information and helps teams to visualize it. Any person who is the part of the team can monitor project progress anytime and also track deliverables. If there are any changes in project timelines, it is possible to update the diagram. This chart is one of the most required elements of any project. This chart is extremely useful in synchronizing tasks, identifying delays and setting deadlines. It is also possible to define projects in different timeframes like work-in-progress and planned time. This chart helps project managers in setting expectations for delivery times and deadlines.
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There are many different types of chart diagrams used by project managers at various stages of a project. Few charts are designed according to processes while few works at the task level. The prime objective of any chart diagram is to represent information in a graphical manner and make it easy to understand and interpret. These tools make project management effective and efficient. It allows the project manager to gain an overview of the project and spot problems at an early stage. With a concrete view of projects, project managers are in a better position to set realistic deadlines, ensure quality delivery and execute a project successfully.
In project management, the planning is everything. Even a little lack of planning can make the project unmanageable and result in loss of time and resources. There are many reasons why a project can fail. Project planning needs to include the potential risks faced by a project along with a plan on how to tackle those risks. It is also important to set appropriate milestones and monitor the progress of the project. Presence of chart diagrams makes it easier for project managers to achieve these objectives.
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