Project management is the core functionality of any business or enterprise. In modern organizations, it is considered to be the highest responsibility task. Project management is used in any and all forms of projects, ranging from software development to developing hybrid robotic technologies.
All project managers and teams use certain highly efficient tools to manage projects. These tools can be specifically designed tools or customized productivity tools that can be adopted for project management work. These tools help managers plan, manage and track their projects more effectively.
Here is a list of the 4 most widely used project management tools:
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
WBS is generally used at the start of the project to break the project down into individual tasks and group these tasks logically. At a root level this is more of a deliverable-oriented decomposition of a project into smaller components. It represents tasks and resources more like a tree structure, with clear subdivisions of effort required to complete a project. This structure also provides the essential framework for detailed cost estimating and control along with providing direction for schedule development, management and control. One should treat creating WBS as a critical step in the process of project management.
One of the most popular and widely used projects scheduling tool, Gantt charts are used when the project is up and running to monitor project progress. A Gantt chart shows you what has to be done (the activities) and when (the schedule). Gantt charts illustrate the start and finish dates of the terminal elements and summary elements of a project. They also show dependencies of tasks and relationship between activities. It is used on a day-to-day or weekly basis to show current schedule status using percent-complete shadings.
These kinds of network diagrams are more like flow charts and are used to show the start of the project to chart how the work should flow and estimate how long each task will take to complete. Also known as the project network diagram, these diagrams are drawn from left to right to show the project chronology. The diagrams are more popularly used to graphically show a high-level project snapshot. In comparison to the Work Breakdown Structure that shows the “part-whole” relationship, network diagrams show a more “before-after” relationship for a project.
Earned Value Analysis (EVA)
This is more of an analysis of the “planned” to the “actual”. It is used when the project is up and running to compare budget forecasts with actual costs, and compare estimated progress with actual progress. With the help of this analysis, project teams can forecast future effort and cost estimations. With the help of this analysis, managers can create risk mitigation plans that are based on actual cost, schedule and progress of the work. It is an “early warning” project management tool that enables managers to identify and control problems before they become big risks.
Apart from the above, there are many more tools available on the web that can help in better project planning and management, but they all have their core function and methodology built around the above mentioned tools. The unique features about these tools are that they can be created on a simple Microsoft platform i.e. word, excel, projects etc. and can be customized based on any project requirements.
As a budding entrepreneur your focus should be to start slow and keep costs low. The last thing you need to worry about is excessive infrastructure or expensive overhead. Your focus should be on bigger issues like generating business and making enough money to keep you afloat in the competitive marketplace. There would be times when you would desire that plush office space with a city view and a staff that reports to you, but in the real world an entrepreneur should always think practical and start small. In the last several years there have been a multitude of virtual business services that have become essential to millions of business owners.
Here are 5 effective virtual tools to keep you lean and productive:
1. Cloud Computing: As more and more business go virtual, cloud computing is becoming the most essential tool for businesses of all sizes and shapes. The intrinsic value of the cloud is that it can be done anywhere and anytime. Google Apps Premier is an apt example, apart from being and excellent substitute for an exchange server, it also includes the ability to store and share documents, create groups, and share a calendar.
2. Outsourcing it right: Well, working virtually, doesn’t mean you are alone! Whatever kind of business you are into, you have to keep in mind that people are your most valuable asset. Elance.com or oDesk.com can be a virtual entrepreneur’s human resources department for hiring and managing people who can offset your strengths. Consider using it to hire designers, programmers, website developers and even virtual assistants.
3. Project Management: Every entrepreneur needs to deal with the principles of project management such as planning, initiating, managing and closing. If you are working with a virtual team then a virtual project management platform is of utmost importance. BaseCamp is one such tool that gives you the ease to manage your projects virtually. It is inexpensive and easy to use because once you’ve subscribed, anyone, e.g. your clients, vendors, and employees, can simply join in via web without downloading or signing up.
4. Skype: Its by far the most important tool for an entrepreneur. It helps you connect with anyone through videoconferencing and/or video calls. It’s quick to download the software and calls to other Skype users are free. You can essentially have an in-person meeting with anyone anywhere as long as you have an internet connection.
5. Move into a Virtual Office: After you have your essentials all setup, consider moving into a virtual office space. A space that is conducive to day-to-day business functions, a place where you don’t have to worry about phone or internet services. All you do is pay a monthly rent and utilize an office environment. Consider using virtual office services such as Stark Office Suites or Regus, which will keep your overhead to a minimum and also give your business a professional look.
If your organization is into offering project management services then sooner or later you would need to setup a PMO (project management office) within your business. A PMO is a department, division or a group within an organization that defines, executes and maintains the standard process and procedures that are related to project management.
Project Management is getting popular among many small businesses. In simple terms it is the planning, organizing and controlling of resources and manpower to achieve a desired outcome or a specific goal. Anything that involves a defined beginning and an end and is usually time and money constrained is called a project, and to ensure the smooth delivery of this project you need to follow basic project management principles.
A PMO is more like an umbrella entity within any organization that overlooks such project management activities. This division strives to standardize and introduce economies of repetition in the execution of projects. The PMO is the source of documentation, guidance and metrics on the practice of project management.
With increased globalization, industry certification programs, such as ISO 9000 and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, as well as government regulatory requirements, have propelled organizations to standardize many processes. Businesses of all sizes and shapes are defining, borrowing and collecting best practices in process and project management and using it within their PMO office.
However, there are many small and medium sized businesses that tend to overlook the importance of project management office due to resource constraints often common within organizations. Many businesses tend to find a qualified project manager and/or software and then hope the pieces all fall into place.
A well organized PMO office is very necessary within any form of Project Management practice. It is important to streamline PMO functions first by standardizing Project Management tools and techniques. This will help in avoiding overall project risks and failures. Eventually, how a project management office (PMO) is designed and staffed for maximum effectiveness depends on a variety of organizational factors, including targeted goals, traditional strengths and cultural imperatives.
Small Business Pool also offers project management and business consulting services to Small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The objective is to partner with clients to deliver customized solutions that create a lasting competitive advantage.
The tag line “Business-Web-Media” signifies the core areas of the services i.e. in the field of Business, Web & Media.
Business: Management Consulting & Planning, Strategy & Change Management, Digital Transformation, Human Resource Management, Statistical Analysis, Market Research & Surveys, Sales & Lead Generation, Virtual Assistants, Customer Service & Support.
Web: Web Programming & Design, E-commerce, Online Game Development, Scripts & Utilities, Web Plug-ins, Mobile Apps Development, Application Interface Design, Email Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Online Advertising & PR, Media Analysis, Web Analytics, Website Content Development, Blog & Article Writing.
Media: Graphic Design, Illustration, 3D Modelling, Animation, VFX, Presentations, Corporate Video Production, Bio Videos, Commercials and Viral Marketing Videos.
Managing projects has always been a challenge for managers that look for easy planning and productivity. With changing technologies, project management has become a more comprehensive and planned activity. It is necessary for a manger to plan, manage and track his projects on a single platform that helps in tracking deliverables and timelines on a real time bases.
Project Management made easy: Basecamp is a web-based project-management tool developed by 37signals. It offers to-do lists, wiki-style web-based text documents, milestone management, file sharing, time tracking, and a messaging system. Millions of managers, entrepreneurs, freelancers, small businesses, and departments inside big organizations, rely on web based project management apps. Basecamp helps making collaboration productive and enjoyable for people every day.
They are one of the most dominant, prolific brands and collaboration tools in the Web-savvy world. Its proprietary software is available in English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Finnish, Portuguese, Danish, Dutch, Polish, Swedish, Greek, Russian, Hungarian, and Japanese.
The quote off their website: “Our products are built for small businesses and individuals (we call this group the Fortune 5,000,000), but companies of all sizes use them every day. From 1 person to teams of 3-5 people to companies of 5000.”
Microsoft SharePoint is a popular web application platform developed by Microsoft for small to large organizations. It is designed as a centralized replacement for multiple web applications and supports various combinations of enterprise website requirements. It is typically associated with web content management and document management systems.
SharePoint’s multi-purpose platform allows for managing and provisioning of intranet portals, extranets and websites, document management and file management, collaboration spaces, social networking tools, enterprise search, business intelligence tooling, process/information integration, and third-party developed solutions. SharePoint can also be used as a web application development platform.
SharePoint is designed to be highly scalable. It is capable of supporting multiple organizations on a single ‘server farm’. Microsoft provides SharePoint as a free product, sells premium editions with additional integration and functionality, and also provides SharePoint as a cloud computing solution as part of BPOS and Office 365. The product is also often sold as a cloud solution by local third-party vendors.