What tools and techniques are required to be used by a Project manager while execution of a project ?

Project managers can use a number of tools and techniques during a project life cycle such as:-

Verifiable objective setting

This ensures that the objectives for the project can be measured and verified to ensure that they have been accomplished.

Brain storming

This technique is used at all stages of the project to support creative thinking and for solving problems and bottlenecks.

Work Breakdown Structures

This is a technique to analyze the content of work and cost by breaking it down into its component parts. It is produced by :-
• Identifying the key elements
• Breaking each element down into component parts
• Continuing to breakdown until manageable work packages have been identified. These can then be allocated to the appropriate person having appropriate experience and skill sets.

Below is a work breakdown structure for the recruitment of a new person to fill a vacant post.

Project Evaluation Review Technique (PERT)

Network analysis or PERT is used to analyze the inter-relationships between the tasks identified by the work breakdown structure and to define the dependencies of each task. Whilst laying out a PERT chart it is often possible to see that assumptions for the order of work are not logical or could be achieved more cost effectively by re-ordering them. This is particularly true whilst allocating resources; it may become self evident that two tasks cannot be completed at the same time by the same person due to lack of working hours or, conversely, that by adding an extra person to the project team several tasks can be done in parallel thus shortening the length of the project.

Below is the PERT chart of the WBS shown above after the application of the network analysis.

Critical path analysis (CPA)

CPA is used in conjunction with PERT analysis to identify the tasks that are critical in determining the overall duration of the project. In the example above the critical path is shown by the tasks with heavy outline boxes.

Milestone Planning

Milestone planning is used to show the major steps that are needed to reach the goal on time. When several tasks have been completed the milestone is reached. It is often used at senior manager reviews.

What are Milestones? Why are they called Milestones?

Imagine you are walking along the road and you see a milestone that says 20 miles to London so you keep walking and later you see one that says 10 miles to London. Now you know that you are going in the right direction and you have made some progress. That is the principle of project milestones. For example, if the project is to build a house then completing each significant chunk of work could be considered a milestone on the road to building the house. For example the milestones might be:-

• Planning permission granted
• Foundations laid
• Walls constructed
• Roof built
• Fixtures, fittings and services completed
• Garden landscaped
• House inspected and approved
• House sold

For simple projects, a milestone plan may be the only plan required.

Accrued cost and earned value analysis

These measures enable the progress of the project to be monitored in financial terms.

Gantt charts

Gantt charts (named after the inventor) or bar charts, as they are sometimes called, are used to display and communicate the results of PERT and Critical Path analysis in a simple bar chart format that can be readily understood by those not involved in the detail of the project.

The PERT chart above is now displayed as a Gantt chart below .

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