I have decided to make a quick list of project planning tools that can help you during the planning stage of a project. Gantt Chart, WBS (Work breakdown structure), PBS (Product Breakdown Structure), PERT chart or Logic Network are some of the most important ones. So let’s take a look at each of them.
Project Planning Tools List
A Gantt chart is one of the most popular tools, and it is a bar chart that can track tasks across time. First developed in 1917, the Gantt chart was lacking one of its most important features: the ability to show relationships between tasks. (I didn’t know that!) Leaving that aside, since then the tool has been improved and now it has become a standard to track both inter-dependencies and time between tasks.
From their introductions the Gantt chart has become one of the most used tools across the industry, becoming an important asset through their proposed features like tracking phases or tasks, monitoring resources and milestones.
The Logic Network presents the sequence of activities over time. It basically shows the order in which activities are to be done. Identifying milestones and pinning down the project critical path are the two main uses. Furthermore it will help with understanding task dependencies, a timescale and overall project workflow. All of this information can be easily overlooked, if it were not for this simple tool.
PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) has been developed in 1958 by the United States Department of Defense as part of the Navy Special Projects – Polaris mobile submarine. This model is used to analyze the tasks required to complete a project. The focus is put on identifying the time required to complete each task, thus identifying the minimum time needed to complete the project.
Product Breakdown Structure (PBS)
A PBS (Product Breakdown Structure) is a complete, hierarchical tree-like structure of parts that make up a project deliverable. Every component is positioned in relationship to the entire project tree.
You would use a PBS to identify what the project is going to deliver, and also as a foundation for building a WBS (Work Breakdown Structure).
PRINCE2 proposes the use of product based planning, part of which is developing a PBS.
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
The DOD (United States Department of Defence) has used a WBS concept as part of Polaris missile program.
A WBS is a hierarchical and incremental decomposition of the project into phases, deliverables and work packages. It breaks deliverables into smaller more manageable activities that can be costed, timed, scheduled and have people assigned to them.
A WBS has become a standard project management tool and is considered to be the basis for much of the project planning.
Hope you will make use of these project planning tools in your projects. Please let me know what other tools you are using to manage your projects.