To be good at project management, you need to be smart, sincere, hard-working, and multiskilled. However, there’s one more quality that is important for you to become a successful project manager: the ability to use the right tools and techniques of project management.
Among the various tools that you can use to manage your projects effectively are data visualization tools. These tools provide you insightful information about your projects through charts and help you steer projects in the right direction while ensuring better quality deliverables.
In this article, I will tell you about project management charts that allow you to visualize and understand project data easily.
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Table of Contents
What is a Project Management Chart?
A project management chart is a graphical representation of the data related to a project. There are different types of project management charts that you can use to eliminate bottlenecks and make better decisions while developing projects. These charts also come in handy to streamline project activities, manage resources efficiently, and improve time management. The most notable thing about project management charts is that they make it easier to understand the complex project data.
There are several types of charts that project managers use to analyze and monitor different aspects of their projects. While some project management charts like Gantt charts are used extensively, there are many others such as Pareto charts and control charts that have limited usage.
Why Do You Need Project Management Charts?
For simple and small scale-projects, there is a limited set of data that you need to observe throughout their life cycles. However, as the complexity of the projects swings up, you need to keep track of more and more data. This is where project management charts can be of great help.
The biggest advantage of using project management charts is that they allow you to analyze and extract useful project information without undergoing a lot of hassle. These charts arrange data systematically and make it easier for you to evaluate project data.
Here are some key benefits of project management charts that you will find interesting:
- Eliminate the need for moving back and forth to collect project data and thus, saves a lot of time
- Help you to stay updated about what’s happening with the project
- Promote collaboration among team members
- Allow you to have better clarity and understanding of the project
- Project tracking becomes simple and effective
- Assist in making better changes to project plan and cope up with unexpected issues
Before moving further, I want to make it clear that the aforementioned benefits are the ones that are common among most project management charts. However, it’s important for you to know that every project management chart has its own set of benefits that makes it suitable for use in a particular situation or project.
10 Project Management Charts That You Can Use To Develop Projects Effectively
Hopefully, you have developed a good understanding of how project management charts allow you to manage your projects smartly. Now, it’s time to get familiar with the project management charts that are highly popular among managers:
Gantt charts are undoubtedly the most prominent project management charts that modern businesses and managers use to control their projects. A Gantt chart provides you the timeline view of your projects. It allows you to visualize how different tasks/activities of a project are connected with each other and how they fit in the overall timeline of the project.
A Gantt chart is basically a variation of the bar chart and is quite easy to interpret. The vertical axis of a Gantt chart represents the tasks of the project while the horizontal axis represents the time duration.
At present, many leading online project management software like ProofHub offers interactive Gantt charts to help you stay on top of all your projects.
The best thing about online Gantt chart tool is that they are easy to use and allow team collaboration. By using online Gantt charts, you’ll be able to plan projects, schedule and assign tasks, set task dependencies, associate project milestones with tasks, and track progress. Additionally, you can identify the critical path of a project, which lets you estimate the duration of the project.
Gantt charts provide you a subtle way of organizing all the essential project data in one place and increase the productivity of your team. Moreover, you can use these charts to manage your projects using the critical path method (CPM).
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PERT chart is another popular project management chart commonly used for scheduling, controlling, and monitoring the tasks of a project. PERT is the acronym for Program Evaluation and Review Technique and is one of the most popular project management methodologies used in a wide variety of industries.
A PERT chart represents the activities and milestones of a project in the form of a network diagram. Interestingly, the PERT and CPM methods have many similarities and both these methods are sometimes used simultaneously to manage projects.
The most significant difference between the two techniques is that CPM is suitable for managing project activities having certain time durations, whereas PERT is best for managing activities with uncertain time durations.
A PERT chart includes circles and arrows. The circles depict the project activities and the arrows represent the progression among the activities. With a PERT chart, you can identify both the critical and non-critical activities of a project. Additionally, the chart also provides information about parallel activities that you can undertake at the same time to speed up project development without putting excess pressure on the resources.
You may find PERT charts a little complex when using for the first time. However, it will not take much time for you to understand them and leverage their power to organize projects constructively.
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
The work breakdown structure is an organized way of dividing a project into smaller manageable sections. In general, the WBS chart has a level 1 which contains the main tasks. The tasks at Level 1 are then divided into sub-tasks and listed in the downward direction.
While the WBS has no stats or figures to display, it certainly is useful in simplifying the way you manage projects. It allows you to execute a project in a systematic manner and ensure proper resource allocation.
Work breakdown structure offers a practical way of simplifying a complex project by breaking it into several tasks and subtasks. By breaking down the project and creating a task hierarchy, you will be able to formulate a better project plan, schedule and assign work, and ensure that project work gets executed systematically.
One thing that’s missing in this project management chart is that you cannot define the dependencies among the tasks and it is not possible to visualize the timeline of the project.
Projects that have several processes and have a complex flow of activities are difficult to manage. A flowchart is the best solution to simplify such types of projects and make your life easier when you are dealing with complicated projects.
For those of you who don’t know already, a flowchart is a graphical representation of the project workflow. It includes all the activities and processes that happen between the start and the end of the project. Boxes and figures of different shapes along with arrows are used to illustrate the sequence of events and the way they are connected.
Flowcharts are a great way to define the logic that your projects will use and share it with other people that can be your team members, clients, stakeholders, etc. A flowchart provides a clear idea about the objectives of the project and also gives an overview of what will happen during the different project events and phases.
As a manager, you should know that flowcharts are highly effective when used for small projects. However, creating flowcharts for large projects that have too many processes and sequences is not feasible. For large-scale projects, flowcharts are used in combination with Gantt charts for better project management.
One of the key responsibilities of project managers in almost all organizations is problem solving. As soon as a problem or issue arises during the project development, managers have to figure out the causes of the problem and take corrective actions to eliminate it.
The cause-effect chart allows managers to highlight all the potential causes that give rise to a particular problem. In general, the chart contains information about various causes and their effects that can lead to problems in a project. While creating a cause-effect chart, it is important that you include all the potential causes of an issue otherwise, it will become difficult to resolve the problem during the actual project development.
Cause and effect charts are also known as Ishikawa diagrams or fishbone diagrams. The latter name is due to the fact that these charts look somewhat similar to fish endoskeleton.
Managers from different industries prefer using causes and effect charts to resolve problems in their projects. One main reason behind the significant popularity of cause and effect charts is that they are easy to understand. You can use them to perform a comprehensive and thorough analysis of the problems occurring in your projects and develop feasible solutions without wasting much of your time and effort.
Apart from problem solving, you can also use cause and effect charts to conduct brainstorming sessions that can yield innovative ideas and solutions.
The next chart on this list of popular project management charts is the Pareto chart. Project managers use this type of chart when they need more information about their project than what a typical graph has to offer.
A Pareto chart is the combination of a bar graph and a line graph. By using this chart, you can highlight some specific factors of your project. Typically, Pareto charts are used for the identification of problems and complications in a project. It helps you to identify the most common reasons for the occurrence of a problem and thus you can take appropriate actions to eradicate the problem.
Pareto charts provide you vital information about your projects that you can use to make better decisions. Additionally, these charts are suitable to use for almost all the project management methodologies and are of great aid while performing six sigma analysis.
Bar charts are very common in project management all due to the fact that they are simple, versatile, and easy to interpret. In project management, these charts are used for visualizing a wide variety of project data ranging from the billable & non-billable work hours to the number of completed & pending tasks.
A typical bar chart has two axes with one axis depicting the different categories to be compared and the other axis representing the parameter of comparison. Although the bars can be plotted both horizontally and vertically, the horizontal bar charts are more popular.
While you are managing a project, you may need to visualize some data like how your team is distributing their work hours across different projects. Bar charts allow you to quickly access important information about your project.
Almost all the leading project management software employs bar charts to visualize some part of the project data. These software automatically create and modify bar charts as the project progresses and new project activities occur.
Pie charts are also very simple and quite popular in project management. Just like bar charts, they are flexible and can represent different types of project data. These charts are circular in shape and act as an ideal tool for data segmentation.
The main purpose of using a pie chart is to illustrate the numeric proportions of different categories that form a collective whole. This type of chart is among the most basic data visualization tools that you can use for managing projects for all levels of complexities.
While Pie charts may seem perfect to use under any conditions, there’s one particular limitation that restricts its usage. These charts are specifically good for displaying proportions of a limited number of categories, preferably less than 10. When the number of categories becomes too large, the pie chart becomes cluttered, and also it becomes difficult to understand the proportions just having a mere look.
If you want to use pie charts for your projects, then you can find them integrated into the best online project management tools & software. Also, you will be able to leverage the power of modern pie charts to understand your project data with ease.
Tracking progress is quite essential to assess whether the project will be completed on time or not. A burn-up chart makes it easier for you to monitor project progress and also provides information about the pending work.
By using a burn-up chart, you will be able to visualize the total amount of work and the completed work altogether. Usually, the vertical axis of the chart depicts the number of tasks or amount of work, whereas the horizontal axis represents the time duration that may be in hours, days, or weeks.
As a manager, you will find burn-up charts extremely useful for assessing the speed at which the work is being executed. Furthermore, the data will help you to make adjustments to your project plan and make it more effective.
There are two key benefits of burn-up charts: they help you to determine if the project development is going at the right speed, and they can easily accommodate any changes in the project scope. The latter means that if there is an addition of new work or tasks in a project, it can be included in the burn-up chart without any trouble.
Although burn-up charts are not available across many project management tools, there are certain software, like ProofHub, that lets you create interactive burn-up charts for your projects almost instantaneously.
If you want to monitor a certain project process, control charts are the best way to do it. This type of project management chart is popular for observing any erratic change in the process behavior, which makes it possible to identify problems at the early stages.
Control charts offer a reliable way of determining the stability of a process. By ensuring the stability of various project processes, you can make sure that the project executes as smoothly as possible while facing minimum hindrances.
A control chart is more like a graph having an upper control limit, a lower control limit, and a centerline or average process output. The process behavior is considered fine as longs as the graph line remains in between the upper control limit and the lower control limit. If the graph line touches or crosses the market control limits, it means that the process behavior has become undesirable.
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Summing it Up
Project management charts can help you to manage different phases of project development in a systematic way. The information provided by these charts is easy to comprehend and is of great help for finishing projects successfully.
As a manager, you can use different types of project management charts according to your personal preference and make your life easier. The charts discussed in this article are the ones that are highly popular among managers to improve the quality of their project work and ensure timely delivery.