Tag: Project Planning Tool

Must have Project Planning Tool Features

Determining project objectives and goals provides the scope of a project, known as the planning process. This lays the foundation in running a successful project. Taking the planning process seriously is mandatory and using the right tools will assist in documenting project scope and objectives. Once the information is gathered and collated, it can all be communicated to the sponsor and stack holders.

The required tools

There are many project planning software tools available which will assist with the planning process and continue to help with execution and monitoring of the project. Project management software offers a wide variety of features, but it’s the following that will be more important during the project planning phase:

  • Online Gantt Chart
  • Resource Management
  • Task Management
  • Dashboard

The following offers a closer look of each feature.

Online Gantt Chart

A Gantt chart is an ideal way to visualize the schedule across a vertical timeline. If the required tasks to achieve the goals have been written down on a spreadsheet as part of the planning phase, then importing is easy and seamless. Importing can occur from any number of formats, such as Microsoft Project, Excel or CSV files and still keep the original formatting.

Using a spreadsheet initially is a process many Project managers use but is not necessary, it depends on the individual. Otherwise using a Gantt chart directly by inputting data on the left hand side is fine and saves time. This information will then populate the right-hand bar-chart side. If a task list is written on a Word document, it can just be copied and pasted into the appropriate field.

Once tasks are injected in the Gantt chart, next is to assign a due date to each. This will create a timeline on the right-hand bar chart in which the duration of each task is shown across a calendar grid. This will then indicate how long tasks will take against the backdrop of the project time-frame. It is at this point team members can be assigned specific tasks.

Using an online Gantt chart, the project team’s statuses are updated automatically, displaying how the project is actually progressing against original estimates. An added benefit is the use of automation through email notifications when tasks have been updated, so everyone is on the same page.

Resource Management

Defining resources once the tasks are organized, the resources in this instance are the team, space the tools and equipment needed for the project.  A good project tool is going to offer a view of all work across the team on a single page. With this overview scheduling ahead is made easy.  This provides work load balancing among the team.

Using an online tool provides easier insight on any over-assigned resources, and if this is the case then with a click they can be reassigned tasks. Color coding also assist’s in providing a glance on who is over-allocated, unallocated or when holiday and vacation days are scheduled.

When the project has started, this planning tool gets updated in real-time to help view a team’s workload. This allows any further tweaking of the project plan even when the project planning phase has passed into action.

Task Management

The more comprehensive the task plan is the more productive the project will be. Project planning software displays the due dates for all tasks and, provides percentage complete as tasks are executed.

The view can be filtered to display tasks by due date, owner or project if working on a program. This helps in displaying only the information needed when planning to assign the tasks. Notes, files and links can be added to provide comments, production notes and document hand-offs once the project has initiated.

Dashboard

While the dashboard is mostly thought of a way to monitor a team’s progress and the project’s health it is a must have tool. The Dashboard can be used to provide an overview of the project plan during the planning phase. From this one page everything about the project can be seen and if all the pieces are working together.

The dashboard collects all data and displays it in colour graphs and charts that are easy to print out or share online when presenting the project plan to the sponsor and stack holders. It also is a place where budget tracking can occur and make sure enough funds has been allocated to cover the costs of the project.

Project Planning Software provide Control of the Plan

With the right project planning tools it’s easier to manage the planning phase of a project. As there is a way to collect and organize all the data for the coming project and make sure the team has assigned tasks that can be completed within the project time-frame.

Planning a project using the right tools is mandatory, as they allow better management of project work. Look no further than the software tools referenced in projectmanagementcompanion.com, providing insight on cloud-based PM tool; try one of the free software with a 30-day trial.