If you are in charge of a workplace project, you may be lost when looking at project management techniques. There are plenty of ways to organise your project, some which will be more beneficial to different types of thinkers. Visual thinkers will prefer the more artistic project management techniques, whereas information-heavy thinkers will lean more towards text-heavy techniques.
There are a few options to choose from, and it’s important for project managers to select both one which they will enjoy using and one that is suitable for the task and the team. The project manager might choose to use a few simultaneously, or trial and error multiple techniques until they have found the perfect one that suits their business.
Here, we’ve listed five project management techniques that you should know about when making your next project management decision!
5 Project Management Techniques Everyone Should Know
Developed by the Japanese car company Toyota to keep scheduling organised, Kanban Charts feature a series of lists, each with cards that can be moved between lists.
For example, you might have a ‘to do’ list, a ‘doing’ list and a ‘done’ list. You can move each card from list to list, and can easily visualise where you are with your list. It’s a great way to break down what you need to do and see what stage you are at in the process. It can also be used to collaborate with team members and see where everybody is at, and what is on everyone’s list for that specific day.
If you have multiple projects that all require the same stages – eg. for pieces of writing you could have ‘research’, ‘plan’, ‘write’, ‘edit’ and ‘proof-read’ columns – you can move each project along as you go. Most software that uses Kanban charts offer the option to assign individual cards to specific people. Trello, for example, provides this option in its free version.
Trello only uses Kanban charts, because they prove to be an effective method for simple organisation. Other companies, such as Asana and Monday, use Kanban charts as well as other features.
The Waterfall Technique
For complex projects, The Waterfall Technique is perfect. It breaks down all aspects of a project into sequential phases, so it is easy to see exactly where the project is. The phases might include: requirements, planning, design, implementation, launch and maintenance. Individual tasks can be broken down and used in each of the sections, so it’s easy to see exactly which parts of the project will be the most and least time consuming.
Using the Waterfall Technique, it will be possible for people to see the whole process from start to finish. Project managers will be able to both plan for future stages while working on initial stages, making sure that no stone is left unturned. However, while each phase can be viewed, no phase is to begin until the previous is complete.
The Waterfall Technique ensures that businesses work well in clearly defined phases, and that every stage of the project is adequately organised. It works well for big business projects that need some clear organisation.
Work Breakdown Structure
A work breakdown structure (WBS) chart breaks down the required ‘to-do’s into sections. For example, if you were writing an essay, you’d have a research section including different topics to research, then a planning section broken down into sections including the introduction and conclusion, and a writing section with similar sub-sections. The editing section may include things to look out for, such as punctuation and grammar.
This type of chart is perfect for projects that require different teams of people. They can focus on their individual sections, and as a project manager you can look at the list as a whole and make any necessary adjustments. It’s a clear plan of everything that needs to be done by individual teams or people to achieve a common goal, and is popular with larger projects.
Using a WBS chart is perfect for projects like launching a product or building a house, where the different teams may be working simultaneously on their individual projects.
Visual people find Gantt Charts very beneficial when managing certain projects. The basic Gantt Chart shows all of the tasks that someone needs to complete and the time span that they have to do them. Using Gantt Charts helps people see how long each task is projected to take and how many are left to complete. Project management tools like Asana and Monday make use of Gantt Charts to clearly detail tasks.
PERT stands for programme evaluation and review technique. It helps project managers make time estimates, which can subsequently produce cost estimates. It uses probabilities to calculate how long tasks will take, breaking them down and then using Gantt Charts to display findings.
It will break down estimates into Optimistic Time Estimate (the minimum time to complete an activity), Most Likely Time Estimate (the average time to complete an activity) and Pessimistic Time Estimate (the maximum time to complete an activity). Then a simple equation shows how much someone should be charging for the work.
Project managers need to be organised, business-savvy and be able to designate tasks well. These project management techniques are excellent ways to be able to visualise the whole project and give different people the right jobs for them.
The most appropriate technique depends on the project itself. For example, many people will use Kanban Charts just to keep their individual to-do list organised. The Waterfall Technique and Gantt Charts are great for small or medium businesses who want to keep an eye on the different stages of work.
WBS charts are best for large teams who will work in teams – the idea is that they will look at their individual section and the project manager will consider the chart as whole. And the PERT method is great for project managers to work out schedules and payments behind the scenes.
It’s important to choose the right project management technique for your team, but to also trial a few to confirm that your choice is indeed the right one. Hopefully this list has given you a good idea of what might be best for you!