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Project management tools - a handy guide to better manage

As a manager or business executive, there are project management tools that help you to better manage the different stages of projects.

Project management tools - a handy guide

Credit Photo : MeisterTask

These tools can be grouped according to the needs and responsibilities of each. They have been developed in order to follow the evolution of the project, correct errors, maintain the budget and respect the specifications.
What are the tools to help manage a program?

I- Tools used in the design phase

During the design phase of a project and after the formulation of objectives and goals. The designer can already apply different tools to better understand each person's role, where to start, which tasks to prioritise, use of inputs, etc. In this step, it is necessary to gather as much information as possible to assess the risks that may influence the realisation of the said project. In this phase, there are various useful tools to carry out the feasibility study. Among these tools, we find the Logical Framework matrix, the SMART method, the MS Project software, the working flowchart or WBS (Work Breakdown Structure), to name but a few.

A. The Logical Framework Matrix (LCM)

The Logical Framework matrix is a working document drawn up in the form of a table that displays the evolution of the project from conception to completion. This table can clearly indicate the objectives and goals, as well as the purpose of carrying out the project. It must, therefore, give details of the financing needs and the use of the resources. The matrix can be read in different ways by following a vertical or a horizontal logic. Finally, the MCL can be used as a basic document in all requests for funding from donors.

B. The SMART method

It is a tool used to align the defined objectives so that they follow a SMART logic (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound). By meeting this criterion, the project must be consistent with the funding available and executed by the best candidates while respecting the time devoted to the project.
While designing other tools can be used like Workflow Chart and Trello software.

II- Planning tools

The planning phase is the part where everyone has to take responsibility. This is the phase where the project manager designates everyone's role while respecting the time, deadline and budget allocated for the work. Among the most common tools are the PERT method, the Agile method, the MS Project tool.

A. PERT method (Program Evaluation Review Technique)

The PERT method is a well-known tool for project planning. It allows you to visualise everyone's tasks so that they are consistent and achievable over time with the PERT tool. It is possible to determine the shortest time (critical path) to complete the project. Then the most probable time and the longest time in case other constraints influence the completion of the project.

B. The Agile method

The Agile method makes it possible to break down a project into several shorter stages in which each team can quickly carry out the work entrusted to them. Use information collected from the customer, including the purpose and use of the product. Each team will work together to meet customer expectations. It is mainly used in the design of business software. It allows the manager to replace the failing team in the event of an error.

C. MS Project tool

MS Project is professional project planning software. It allows you to project everyone's tasks and responsibilities and follow up on the next job. By filling in all the requested information (budget, human resources, remaining time, etc.), it is possible to visualise the progress of the project using the Gantt chart, the PERT method, an Excel workbook, etc.

III- Strategic tools

Human resources management is very important in a large project because the slightest error can handicap the completion of tasks. Whatever skills you have, above all else, you must share with your team members fairly. To do this, you can use the most common tools such as the SWOT matrix, the Deming wheel, the Maslow pyramid, Teamwork, Asana and Ntask software.

A. The SWOT matrix (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats)

The SWOT matrix is a versatile tool for identifying a team's strength or a company's ability to achieve goals. It can be used in the launch phase of a product, a service or a production unit extension project. This matrix also makes it possible to identify the risks and circumvent them so that the company can achieve its objectives.

B. Maslow's pyramid

Based on its original concept, Maslow's pyramid is a way to motivate a team. It is applied to avoid performance drops in a team. To maintain an effective sales force, it is not necessary to harden the tone but to play the game of the reasonable manager a little. It can meet the demand of the staff, without however moving away from the objective of the company. In this tool, we find at the bottom of the pyramid the Need for remuneration component, followed by the CDI (Contract for an Indefinite Term). In 3 rd position, the relationship with colleagues, followed by recognition, which ends with training needs.

C. Teamwork software

It is a tool that improves everyone's productivity according to the progress of the project. It is also a monitoring and control tool that allows you to see the achievements of each member of the team and the time they have devoted to their work. So that everyone follows the rhythm, the manager can develop a communication campaign with the members.

Several tools exist in project management. Their uses depend on the needs of the organisation. The advantage is that it is possible to combine the tools and use them in parallel for more efficiency. Thus, each phase of the project makes it possible to use a tool by referring to its needs and according to its budget. On the other hand, there are essential tools in the design of a project such as the Logical Framework matrix, the PERT network, the SMART method, the Agile method, the MS Project, Asana and NTask software packages.

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